#ARTMOMENT: The Six-Legged Dog


The ubiquitous logo of the oil and gas company Eni (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi) was the result of a 1952 nation-wide competition and brainchild of sculptor, artist, and designer Luigi Broggini. He did not take credit for the design as he deemed it beneath him to participate in a commercial competition. But compete he did, and with the help of Giuseppe Guzzi, who formally presented the design, this mysterious creature became an instant sensation, symbolizing energy, past, future, power, and myth. Or as the Eni website puts it, “Metaphorically, the six-legged dog explores the relationship between man and nature with power, courage and nonconformity.”

Whatever that means. Broggini himself did not explain his creation, leaving it to the rest of us to interpret it through our own lenses of time and culture. Poet Emilio Tadini wrote a thoughtful piece on “The fable of the dog,” which you can read here.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: The Parte de Sotto Suffers

Sotto Wallow

Time to wallow. The Parte de Sotto is having its communal dinner following its bitter defeat in this year’s #calendimaggio2018. The origins of “May Day” go back to medieval times and are linked to pagan customs that celebrated the return of the spring season and the renewal of the cycle of life.

In Assisi,  the city was divided into “Parte de Sotto” (Lower City) and “Parte de Sopra” (Upper City), ruled respectively by the rival families of the Fiumi and the Nepis. In Ancient times these rivalries would result in deadly clashes; however, the ceremonies now simply reflect a joyful (though still fiercely competitive) event which lasts for several days, featuring flame-throwing, dancing, singing, cross-bowing, and lots of men in tights. #MagnificaPartedeSotto

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Fountain for the Faithful

Medeci Fountain

Outside the walls of Assisi, and down the hill, lies a beautiful little chapel which was one of St. Francis’ favorites. He had rebuilt it with his own hands, like many others in the area. Around 1211 the small chapel and surrounding area was given to Francis by the abbot of Saint Benedict of Monte Subasio on condition of making it the mother house of the new Franciscan Order. This little “Portion of Land” (La Porziuncola) was to become one of St. Francis’ most treasured places, and when he knew he was dying, he asked to be brought there.

After his death, the little chapel on the little portion of land attracted so many pilgrims that a larger church (actually, basilica) was built over it, and a long fountain was built on one side of the church to provide cool drinking water to those waiting in line. The fountain was donated in 1610 by Cosimo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany and decorated with his family’s (the Medici) coat of arms.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Festa di Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia

Every December 13th, Italy (and the rest of Europe) celebrates the feast day of Saint Lucy. She died in 304 A.D. during Winter Solstice when Italy was still using the Julian calendar, and because of this people say “Santa Lucia, il giorno più corto che ci sia” (Saint Lucy, the shortest day there is).

In southern Italy the saint brings gifts to children while the grandmother prepares a special dessert of wheat and hot chocolate, consumed only during that time of year. In the rest of the country the saint rides on her donkey distributing sweets, the children leave carrots for the animal. Across Europe, especially in Scandinavia, the saint is loved and celebrated in many different ways. #saintlucia

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Assisi is the City of Peace

Francis Feast Day

The small town of Assisi is the “City of Peace.” Millions of people from around the world make a pilgrimage here to honor the life and teachings of St. Francis, one of the patron saints of Italy. After sundown on October 3, 1226, St. Francis died. That night is marked by medieval drumming, flag-throwing, and fire. A solemn procession is held in nearby Santa Maria, and sacred oil from one of Italy’s regions is brought to light his tomb in the Basilica.

The following day Masses are held in Santa Maria and in the Basilica in Assisi, his final resting place. Finally, on the 5th, a large market is held on the streets of Assisi.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.