35mm B&W Film
These images were captured on 35 mm black and white, color and infrared film in 1996 and 2001. Images will be added as more negatives are scanned (Nikon 5000 ED scanner) and prints completed. Click the image to open a gallery.
This location in Umbria, close to the Tuscany border, was our home in Italy. We made daily visits to nearby hill towns,cemeteries, and other locations.
Hill towns, built for defense, were surrounded by massive defensive walls or cliffs, with sturdy gates and watchtowers. They all have interesting, turbulent histories. These hill towns in Italy have been studied for their inhabitants and preservation of Medieval and Renaissance Art and architecture. They are also studied to learn why some have withstood earthquakes. I felt a unique presence in each hill town and wished to share a little about each one.
Castiglione del Lago
This Umbrian town, located on the southwest corner of Lake Trasimeno, has been continuously occupied since Etruscan times. Thru the ages the towns strategic position, fertile soil in a favorable micro-climate made this town disputed by dominating powers. It was defeat by Chiusi, contested by Arezzo, Orvieto and Cortona plus many other conflicts. Today it is a thriving modern day resort.
This Tuscan hill town, located on a steep hill rising from the Arno River floodplain, is believed to be one of the 12 most important Etruscan cities.
Roman pottery from Arezzo from the 1st century AD found in India shows Roman trade thru Persia. Arezzo endured many conflicts over time, being demolished, dismantled and rebuilt.
During WWII city buildings were heavily damaged but the medieval center of the old town has been preserved. Frescos in the church of San Francesco by Piero della Francesca (1300’s) have been restored. The photos in Arezzo were taken during an antique fair.
This Umbrian hill town first occupied by the Umbrians (1000 BC), conquered by the Etruscans, occupied by Romans (295 BC) and under the jurisdiction of various rulers, is famous as the birthplace of St. Frances, founder of the Franciscan religious order in 1208, and St. Clare, founder of the Order of Poor Sisters.
The Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, the Franciscan monastery, il Sacro convento, and the lower and upper churches of St. Frances (one on top of the other) were begun in 1228, and completed in 1253. The lower church (1228-1230) has late medieval Romanesque-Gothic frescos, and the upper church (1230-1253) frescoes of the life of St. Frances. Two 1997 earthquakes devastated Assisi, but much, including damaged frescos, has been and is continued to be restored.
This Tuscan hill town was one of the most powerful among the Etruscan 12 city confederation. Like all Etruscan towns it was conquered by Romans (3rd century BC). Chiusi was later occupation by Ostrogoths (540 AD), eleventh century rule of local bishops, contended by Oriveto (1231) and Siena (1415), annexed to Grand Duchy of Tuscany (1556).
The museum in this medieval town, rated among the best in Tuscany houses important objects of Etruscan culture. (Images 1 and 2).
The Romanesque Cathedral of San Secondiano (black and white image 3) was built over Etruscan and Roman remains. It dates back to circa 560 AD, with a 13th century renovation and major restoration in 1775 to 1822. 1887 to 1894 reconstruction combined architectural structure of Roman PreChristian styles to Bysantine-Ravina motives. The interior is unique and the altar displays the remains of a saint (image 4).
Tours of an underground passage, Labyrinth of Porsenna, probably an Etruscan water duct winding beneath the town, are available.
Citta della Pieve
A small, ancient, Umbrian town, along a hilly ridge between the rivers Chiani and Nestore was probably built in Etruscan times as a dependency of Chiusi. It was conquered by Romans, Lombards, donated to the church and acquired by the papacy in the 12th century.
In an area famous for clay soil no natural stone was available. The churches and plazzi were built of brick from the Middle Age thru the Renaissance giving the town a unique style. There are still houses plastered to resemble stone, and a few buildings of imported stone.
Originally an Umbrian city this medieval Tuscan hill town is surrounded by Etruscan walls. Streets are steep and narrow. It has a complex history. Cortona holds annual festivals from late May to June celebrating the marriage of Lord Francesco Casali and noblewoman Antonia Salimbeni of Siena (1397). This commemorates the alliance between Siena and Cortona after occupation and pillage by Arezzo. In 1411 Cortona was sold to the Medicis. The Girifalco Fortress of the Medicis is a dominant feature.
Cortona is famous for art and wine. The city has produced quality wines since Etruscan times. Annual Tuscan Sun Festivals celebrate art and music.
This ancient Umbrian hill town, occupied since the Bronze Age, is located on the lowest slope of Mt. Ingini, a small Apennine mountain. Powerful in the Middle Ages, famous for pottery in the Renaissance, it also has a turbulent history. In 1860 Gubbio was incorporated into the kingdom of Italy. It is a fascinating vibrant town to visit today.
The second largest and only inhabited island on Lake Trasimeno, has a population of 35.
St. Frances of Assisi lived on the island as a hermit from 1211. The Church of Saint Michael the Archangel was built in the 12th century on top of the hill. In the 14th century the town flourished after the establishment of a Franciscan Monastery in 1328. Most buildings date from this period.
A castle built on the monastery in 1880 fell into disrepair. In Feb. 1944 the castle was an internment camp for Jews who were rescued June 1944 by island fisherman. The island’s priest, don Ottavio Posta, planned the rescue. It was turned into a luxury spa (for sale 2010).
The mild climate permits growth of Mediterranean vegetation. Rare and exotic plants grow wild and in gardens. Many of the olive trees are hundreds of years old.
Today the town depends on fishing, agriculture, tourism, and traditional Irish lace making introduced in the 1900’s by Irish nuns. The women, accustomed to mending fishing nets, learned lace making easily. The art is handed down from mother to daughter.
This Tuscan Medieval and Renaissance hill town sits on a narrow limestone ridge encircled by walls and 15th century fortifications. With Etruscan roots (occupied in 4th-3rd centuries BC it) has a complex and turbulent history reenacted in festivals August 14, 15 and 16. In July and August there are arts festivals. The streets have Renaissance style palazzi and churches.
It is most famous for food and wine.
This medieval Umbrian walled hill town on the border between Umbria and Tuscany overlooks Lake Trasimino. In the 13th century it was recognized as one of the most livable village in Italy and recently designated one of the most beautiful.
This natural terraced Umbrian town overlooking Lake Trasimino dates back to 2000 BC. Population changes from Umbrians, Etruscans, Romans are reflected in the town. Panicale’s three main square are enclosed within a series of medieval concentric ellipses.
The first compilation of a communal state dates to 1316. Several images show buildings from this time period still occupied today. The Renaissance was a time of economic, urban and artistic development. Today embroidery and wrought iron are main handicraft industries of the area.
Rome and Florence
Our visit to these very busy cities was relaxed. I took few images in Rome and Florence enjoying the cities and visiting with Italian photographers. Film images from 1996 will be posted later.