Travel Plans, Cultural Tourism, and a Date with Giotto
In just a few weeks I’ll be headed to Italy! I was very honored to be invited on this trip and could not pass up the opportunity to connect with professionals in the travel industry, catch up with fellow bloggers, and take an art pilgrimage to see one of the greatest pieces of Western Art.
TBD-Italy, Rimini, and Cultural Travel
First off, I’m excited to announce that I was selected as a Top Culture Blogger and invited to participate in Travel Blogger Destination Italy (TBDI2014)! This conference which includes writing and social media workshops is being held in conjunction with TTG Incontri, the biggest travel industry trade fair in Italy. This will be a great opportunity to meet regional and corporate travel representatives and discuss the importance of bloggers today for communicating and exploring destinations. The three day event starts October 9th in Rimini, Italy in the northeastern Marche Region.
I’m really impressed with TDBI’s organizers. In selecting the top bloggers to bring to the conference, they have recognized writers with unique voices and niche interests and thus have invited Culture, Food, Travel, and Fashion Bloggers to participate. Fundamentally, culture is why I travel, whether to see local life or ancient ruins, folk crafts and brilliant, historic art, and I am so happy to see culture included in this event.
To me, cultural travel is seeking out and exploring those elements that make a place and its people unique and special. This encompasses art, traditions, cuisine, and most importantly a community’s history. Culture evolves so it’s critical to understand that what a region once was, still influences and contributes to what it is today.
As a someone who focuses on art and history when I travel, I can’t imagine a better destination than Italy. I’m looking forward to discussing the future of cultural travel, meeting new people, and exploring Rimini. (They do have an ancient Roman triumphant arch after all.)
Giotto’s Masterpiece and Me
After the conference, I plan on spending a few days in Padua, in the Veneto Region. In addition to seeing the historic university and the Basilica of local hero St. Anthony, I am excited for an incredible Art History Pilgrimage to Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel.
In 1300, Enrico Scrovegni commissioned the construction and decoration of a large chapel which many believed to be an act of penance for his family’s involvement in business and usury. A mature and established artist by this time, Giotto di Bondone created 40 square frescoed scenes depicting events from the life of Mary and Jesus, plus a massive Last Judgement on the back wall.
While the frescoes, in the Scrovegni Chapel (or Arena Chapel as it is also known) are still shallow and rigid like the prevailing Gothic style of the 13th century, there are intense flashes of emotion and sophistication in the images which firmly establish this chapel as the first piece of Renaissance Art. For this reason, Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel is widely considered to be one of the finest pieces in Western Art.
While I hope to find new insights and appreciation standing in front of these paintings, let me at least give you an example of how amazing this chapel is. The “Arrest of Christ” is a chaotic scene. Disembodied hands menace violently with clubs, pikes, and axes. Layers of grey helmets suggest a large group of soldiers. Amid the noise and activity we find an intense, emotionally charged moment between Jesus and Judas as he delivers the kiss of betrayal.
In the center of the painting Jesus stands rigidly. He is almost completely enveloped by Judas’ orange, brown cloak and outstretched arms. Beneath this, I imagine Jesus with his hands immediately at his side, neither welcoming nor resisting. His eyes are not furrowed in anger, nor raised in surprise. Jesus just stares directly into Judas’ face. This is a significant turning point theologically and in the story of Christ’s life and you can read the magnitude of the moment in Jesus’ fixed gaze. While it doesn’t show up well in reproductions, it almost looks like Judas is looking up and away – like he just can’t look Jesus in the eyes.
Where Judas is actually looking is just one of the many details I will be watching for when standing in front of these incredible frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel.