Coffee Table Book
Italy has long been at the top of my list of countries to visit if ever given
the chance. Sadly, budget and vacation time are currently prohibitive factors
for such a trip. That’s the beauty of books such as Joe Bauwens’ and MaryBeth
Flower’s PIAZZA: ITALY’S HEART AND SOUL – they can transport you
to places you’ve dreamed of, through the splendor of their photography and the
descriptive footnotes teaching a bit of that region’s cultures and traditions.
When you open the book, you are immediately captured by the colorful flags born
by the sbandieratori of Gubbio, and can almost feel their movement as they run,
proudly bearing their flags.
You can feel the press of the crowds when you turn to the depiction of the Ceri
Marathon. Then a castle in Vernazza seems to be carved from the seaside bluff
it tops, rather than being built upon it by mere men.
As exciting as some of these photos are, still others convey a solemn peace and
stillness, such as the picture of the Santa Maria della Salute church in the
dark of night, with lights spotlighting its majestic dome.
Mr. Bauwens and Ms. Flower miss nothing, including pictures of citizens in
traditional costume as well as people in modern dress. We find children
laughing and playing, and other people from all walks of life, who through the
very normalcy of their pictures, depict everyday life in Italy more surely than
mere words. From the pink-haired woman on her cell phone to the pony-tailed man
on his unicycle, we experience it all.
I can almost taste the rich cappuccino when I see the pictures of this dark
treat decorated with whimsical chocolate designs atop the foam. I can imagine
sitting at an outdoor cafe quietly watching all of these sights go by as I sip
my own cup, careful not to burn my mouth.
But the creators of this coffee table book don’t rely on just pictures to
deliver the Italian experience – they draft prose as picturesque as their
photographs to completely immerse you in the details of the event, the town, the
feel of the place.
I’d expected PIAZZA: ITALY’S HEART AND SOUL to assuage some of my
wanderlust, but instead I find I want even more fervently to wander through the
rainbow town of Burano. I want to coast through the watery streets of Venice in
my own gondola, with a gondolier pointing out spots of interest in a thick
Italian accent. I want to dance in the street to the beat of the street
musicians on the Ligurian shore.
Italy is a country steeped in history and this beautiful tome clearly shows this
in everything from the architecture to the people to the traditional
celebrations. It’s the next best thing to being able to visit Italy yourself.
For a taste of Italy sure to fuel a few daydreams, pick up a copy of
PIAZZA: ITALY’S HEART AND SOUL.
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