Part I: Italians–Their Heritage and Contributions

Chapter 3: The Mosaic of Italian Culture

Italians have impressively filled Europe and Western Civilization with many of their accomplishments. Italian architects built part of the Kremlin in Moscow and the Winter Palace in Leningrad. They have decorated the Capitol in Washington and designed the dome for that edifice. All over Europe and South America monuments of famous heroes have been produced by Italian artisans.

On a somewhat smaller scale Italy has made her mark. We would have no pistols but for the city of Pistoia, no millinery but for Milan, no blue jeans but for the city of Genoa (Genes) where the blue cotton was first produced. We could not request Neapolitan ice cream, bologna sausage, Parmesan cheese or Venetian blinds. As Luigi Barzini has observed in his book The Italians, children of Italy discovered America, gave poetry to the English, cuisine to the French, acting and ballet to the Russians and music to the world.

Yet it is strange that for all of her genius these men never created a great Italy. In fact few of these recognized leaders in world culture exercised any influence at all at home. It seems that with determined regularity those who would lead in cultural pursuits have been systematically neutralized throughout the centuries, in their homeland. Galileo and Veronese were hauled before the Inquisition, Galileo for his “radical” theories, Veronese for his “scandalous” art. Dante, Petrarch, Machiavelli and Mazzini were exiled while Savonarola and Bruno were burned at the stake.


The creation of art during the period referred to as the Renaissance brought about significant changes in attitudes and approaches to the subject. Between the careers of the two Florentines Giotto (1240-1302) and Michaelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) Italian artists retreated from the unrealistic and symbolic art of the Middle Ages to an art form which described the essence of the real world. We may divide these centuries into three distinct ages, that of Giotto, the generation of Masaccio and Donatello, and the era of Leonardo and Michaelangelo. While the early painters tried to capture reality with varying techniques and styles Leonardo and his followers not only achieved a semblance of perfection but attempted to go beyond nature into the deeper forms of personal reality.

Giotto was perhaps the first Italian to achieve an art form which was less symbolic and more realistic, and to consciously break from Medieval tradition. According to Vasari, “Giotto deserves to be called the disciple of nature . . . for nature was to him a never failing source of inspiration.”[1] Giotto was a revolutionary because most of his techniques rejected the symbolic representation of man and painted the natural reality he perceived.

Giotto provided his frescos with space and fluid movement, although crude in comparison with later artists.

Following Giotto was Masaccio (1401-1428), whose name literally means “sloppy Tom.” He was the first artist to use mechanical perspective and assume that human anatomy existed under the clothing of his figures. The idea of perspective, the creation of the illusion of depth on a flat surface, was a style most obsessively mastered by Paolo Uccello. His preoccupation with this technique was so overwhelming that he would refuse to eat or sleep for days, telling his wife repeatedly, “Oh, what a delightful thing is this perspective.” The architect Brunelleschi stumbled upon this principle after he had studied the proportions of classical architecture, while the artist Piero della Francesco wrote a manual for artists on the mathematical principles of perspective.

The use of chiaroscuro (shading) and of sfumato (a smoky haze) were pioneered by Masaccio and Leonardo respectively, permitting the artist to create a mysterious appearance in his art. Another interesting technique, used by the adventurer-artist Benvenuto Cellini, was the “lost wax” technique of bronze casting.

Luca Signorelli (1441-1523) of Cortona, an artist relatively unknown to most readers, is important in the evolution of Italian painting for his emphasis on the nude which closely approximates the titanic element in Michaelangelo. We know that at least one of his works hung in Lorenzo de Medici’s home while the young Michaelangelo was employed there.

The meaning behind the appearance of objects became increasingly elaborate as the Renaissance waned. Indeed, as with the technique of perspective, artists like Botticelli and Raphael became obsessed with the possibilities of symbolic art. Yet no other Italian artist has generated more attention and interest in the idea that art has various levels of meaning than Michaelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). In virtually every sculpture work he created there are hidden meanings, purposely implanted, expressing his personal vision of reality and delivering his philosophical message to those who wish to seek them.

With Michaelangelo’s works we begin a new level of artistic genius, of art as an external expression to the world while whispering to the individual the inward struggle of man in subtle but meaningful symbolism.

Italian art in the Renaissance came to represent not merely a chapter in European history but an essential factor in the ideological and cultural formation of modern Europe. The ideas, techniques and inspiration spread throughout Europe and have had far reaching application in art forms today.


The creative talents of Italy can be found in all artistic media but especially in the field of architecture. It is interesting to realize how much of an effect climate and regional differences have had upon the architectural structures of the peninsula. In a relatively mild climate no special structural adaptation was needed.

There is no country in the world where the past serves the present so dutifully as in Italy. Frank Lloyd Wright suggested this relationship between simplicity, tradition and essence in his volume entitled On Architecture:[2]

Of this joy of living there is greater proof in Italy than elsewhere. Buildings, pictures, and sculptures seem to be born, like the flowers by the roadside, to sing themselves into being. Approached in the spirit of their conception they inspire us with the very music of life. No really Italian building seems ill at ease in Italy . . . The secret of this ineffable charm would be sought in vain in the rarefied air of scholasticism or pedantic fine art. It lies close to the earth. Like a handful of the moist, sweet earth itself it is so simple that, to modern minds, trained in intellectual gymnastics, it would seem unrelated to great purpose. It is so close that almost universally it is overlooked by the pedant.

One of the most impressive edifices of the Renaissance was the vaulted dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, executed by Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) in Florence. The very idea of a dome or cupola of such height and weight was more than any architect dreamed possible. Even if such a dome could have been constructed it would have been aesthetically burdened by supporting columns and high scaffolds, but Brunelleschi suggested the impossible — no external framework whatsoever!

According to Vasari, Brunelleschi sought to improve the practice of architecture, “and brought it to a perfection,” for the Florentine proposed to build for eternity. Today as in the 15th century the Duomo rises like a benediction over the city on the Arno. It is strong, enduring, the symbolic spirit of Florence. Indeed, Florentines still claim that when they leave the city they are not homesick for the urban community but rather long for their Duomo.

In 1506 Pope Julius II decided to demolish the old Basilica of St. Peter’s and have it rebuilt in a non-traditional style. Donato Bramante (1444-1514) was selected for the task of creating this monument of the Church. Bramante never completed the task because of a lack of funds.

Bramante’s idea for the church was to be innovative. It was not to be oblong, in the traditional sense, but square with chapels symmetrically arranged about a cross-shaped hall. This hall was to be capped by a cupola rising on huge arches. The boldness of this undertaking is inspiring for its ambition but really confirmed the Renaissance ideal that for man nothing is impossible. Thus, majestically rising 452 feet about the Piazza, St. Peter’s Cathedral stands as the architectural achievement of the Renaissance. However, St. Peter’s as we know it today has little in common with the plans of Bramante except for its gigantic dimensions. It is ironic that Michaelangelo, who had an almost paranoid hostility toward Bramante, was chosen in 1546 to complete the structure.

The construction of St. Peter’s was then a cooperative effort, first by Bramante in 1506, later by Sangallo in 1539. Finally Michaelangelo’s plan, executed over a twenty-year period, began in 1546. Clearly Michaelangelo wanted to be master of the entire operations and erased all traces of the previous architect’s work, to the point of pulling down the work already produced by Sangallo.

Although another architect, Giacomo della Porta, modified Michaelangelo’s plans somewhat in 1588 and actually finished the dome, the design was Michaelangelo’s. It is the greatest dome and largest cathedral ever built and not only has symbolized religious belief but was also adopted by the men of the Enlightenment and afterwards to crown their secular capitols. As James Ackerman pointed out in his The Architecture of Michaelangelo (1970): “If Michaelangelo had not reluctantly become an architect the domes of St. Paul’s and of the Washington Capitol could not have been the same.”

It was Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) who relied on the attitudes of the High Renaissance to achieve the mingling of the symbolic and the grand, and pointed to the Baroque. Trained as a sculptor, this Neopolitan towered over all artists of his age, and dominated architecture for the next fifty years.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born in Naples in 1598. He was perhaps the only artist of the period to enjoy the gift of longevity and the fortitude to carry through a project as vast as St. Peter’s. A pilgrim coming to Rome in 1600 would have seen little of the grand Basilica, except for the dome. The architecture was disjointed, fragmented. Bernini organized and polished the scraps of uncompleted genius found throughout the city and gave his own audacious grandeur to the scheme.

At the age of 26 he was commissioned by the Barberini Pope Urban VII to build a great canopy over the tomb of St. Peter’s, the Baldacchino. To have achieved this feat in bronze (it is nearly 100 feet high) required engineering mastery. To complicate the task he discovered that there was not enough bronze available to complete the work. Urban ordered the roof of the most famous ruin in Rome, the Pantheon, to be stripped of its bronze for the Baldacchino, prompting the quip “What the barbari (barbarians) dared not do was done by the Barberini.” But one might quickly add, for the glory of the Church, pagan antiquity must pay.

In 1642 Bernini began plans for the completion of St. Peter’s, especially the vast piazza in front of St. Peter’s with its encircling colonnade. It was his crowning masterpiece, which gives the observer the impression that he need no longer be burdened by the weight of his problems, but can lose himself within the immensity and ethereal greatness of the Church. In an age of doubt and uncertainty the effect was immediate and profoundly felt by Italian and non-Italian visitors to the holy city. This architectural device was to be emulated throughout Europe for 200 years by secular powers as widely separated as England and Russia.

During the 18th century Italian architects often took their talents to the New World in search of commissions. The Italian traveler and patriot Philip Massei, the intimate friend of Thomas Jefferson, was requested to search out and bring Italian architects and sculptors to America to design a figure of Liberty for the new nation’s “Chamber of Representatives.” He sent Joseph Franzoni and John Andrew to Jefferson and they combined their talents and planned monuments and sculpted works in Washington. Most important of these early Italian artisans was Antonio Meucci, who planned the dome for the nation’s Capitol, basing his construction after St. Peter’s in Rome. In 1814 Washington was destroyed by fire and with it the constructions of Franzoni and Meucci. However, other Italians were imported to replace those art objects destroyed by the flames.

Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-) is considered the most important modern Italian architect, working almost completely in reinforced concrete. His works are internationally known and recognized, combining aesthetic value with functionality. It is interesting to observe that Nervi has been awarded most of his commissions not only on the basis of their daring and beauty but because of the relative inexpensiveness of their construction.


If there is one universal medium which the Italians can take the most pride in, it is their creative artistry in music. Like any art form music transcends national and ethnic distinctions and is enjoyed and appreciated by diverse peoples. Every Italian region, city and almost every rural village has provided composers artists, craftsmen and performers whose music has flowed through Italy and outward to the world.

Indeed the city of Palermo may have the worst slums in all of Italy, yet it boasts of the third largest opera house in Europe, the Teatro Massimo on the Piazza Verdi.

Sicily has had a rich musical past, reaching back almost 2500 years to the Greek colonization of the island. The great age of music in Sicily comes in the Middle Ages when their poetry was put to song and usually dealt with love, some religious music and, interestingly, one or two protest songs against the Crusades! In the following centuries the composer Alessandro Scarlatti (born in 1660) was born in Palermo and composed over 115 operas. However, his great claim to immortality was his son, Domenico Scarlatti, who became opera composer for the Queen of Poland, musician of the court of Portugal, chair-master of St. Peter’s. From 1728 to 1758 he devoted all his attentions and genius to the harpsichord.

In Naples music is synonomous with opera and rightly so. In the 17th century Naples produced in rapid succession composers who monopolized the opera houses of Europe for the remainder of the century. In Naples is the Teatro di San Carol, the oldest opera house in Italy, built in 1737.

The composers of opera in the 18th century were Neapolitan by either birth or training or style. In England Neapolitan opera was represented by Handel and Bonocini, in Germany by Hasse and Jommelli, in Venice by Vivalid and Gasparini. Neapolitan opera was brought to America by a company of French musicians in 1790, the first Italian opera produced in America being Pergolesi’s “La Serva Padrona.”

As one moves northward the variety of musical interests increases. Tuscany, the region which contains the cities of Florence, Lucca, Pisa, and Siena, has offered the world some of the greatest composers. Lucca was the home of one of the most prolific of Italian composers, Giacomo Puccini, whose works include La Bohêeme, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut, La Tosca, and La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West).

In Florence the earliest opera for which music is preserved, Euridice, was presented on October 6, 1600 in the Palazzo Pitti. Under the Medici musicians from all over Europe were brought to the city to perform and compose.

The names of Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti and Stradivarius are internationally recognized for their brilliant contributions to the world of music. Each of these individuals was from the northern provinces of Italy, cities virtually unknown to Americans but each nevertheless possessing a cultural heritage of musical excellence.

Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) was born in Bergamo, and is credited with the composition of some 71 operas. Some of his works include Anna Bolena (1830) and Don Pasquale (1843), reputed to have been written in only eight days. His name now graces the new theater in the city.

The city of Cremona is not famous for her composers although Monteverdi was born there in 1567. Cremona does have the undisputed reputation of having brought forth the finest stringed instruments in the world. In the city the Amati, Guarneri and Stradivari families lived and created instruments of unsurpassed excellence.

The supreme master of the art of violin-making was Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), whose craftsmanship became legendary. The sounds from the violins of Cremona radiated throughout the world but it wasn’t until 1961 that the city fathers realized that they had no Stradivarius instruments left in the town. A drive was launched to raise money to purchase a violin for 3,000,000 lire or about $50,000. The instrument now rests in a glass case in the Palazzo Communale, facing the city’s cathedral.

Milan has been the cultural center of Lombardy for centuries, drawing upon a musical tradition dating back to St. Ambrose in the 4th century. It was in Milan during a religious controversy that the form of antiphonal singing known as the “Ambrosiani” was created. In this musical form the choir is divided into two groups, each responding to a repeated refrain. The Ambrosian chant, with its emphasis on melody and simple language, preceded the Roman Gregorian chant by some 200 years.

The monument which is synonomous with Milan is the Teatro alla Scala which opened on August 3, 1778. From the first it has enjoyed a unique reputation among opera lovers. Unlike the houses of Naples, La Scala has strictly regulated behavior in the theater, forbidding overly enthusiastic applause, signs of disapproval, dogs in the boxes and encores. The conductor Arturo Toscanini, unable to continue his presentation of a performance because the audience demanded an encore from a tenor, threw his baton at the crowd and walked off the stage. He did not return to La Scala for another three years, and then as artistic director of the opera house.

The music of Rigoletto, Il Travatore, La Traviata and Aida are well-known compositions from the pen of Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). Verdi has been characterized as the major musical exponent of patriotism during the 19th century. Although none of his operas specifically refer to the contemporary political situation, the themes of freedom and liberty are the resounding chords in his works.

In 1869 Verdi was commissioned to write an opera for the Khedive of Egypt to celebrate the opening of the new Cairo Opera House and the Suez Canal. With his wife and a friend he composed Aida which was performed in Cairo in 1871 amidst a “circus” atmosphere. Six weeks later the opera was again performed in Milan and was very well received. During his lifetime and in the years since his death in 1901, wherever there is an opera house Verdi’s music is performed and enjoyed.

No discussion of Italian musicians can be complete without including Il Maestro, Arturo Toscanini. Toscanini’s name still retains the enduring mark of greatness. Born in Parma in 1867, Toscanini was educated as a cellist and had his first professional experiences in that role.

In 1898 Toscanini was made artistic director of the Teatro alla Scala, the highest honor awarded to an Italian performer. La Scala had been closed for a year prior to his arrival because of poor management and with Toscanini’s guidance it was once again restored. His residence there would be a consistent source of strife and turmoil for the artist.

In March of 1948 Toscanini was visually introduced to the American public on television. He conducted the NBC Symphony until 1954 when network officials decided that he was too old to continue as conductor. In April of that year the 87-year-old conductor gave his last performance at Carnegie Hall. Briefly returning to Italy, the nearly blind Maestro soon returned to America.

The incomparable magic which was worked by Toscanini ended on January 16, 1957, when Il Maestro died at the age of 89. Although his music lives on through numerous recordings (which he personally disliked) nothing can reproduce the vision of Toscanini mounting the podium and transforming an army of mere musicians into an illusion of vibrations and visions. That was his mastery, for which he is lovingly remembered.


What follows is a short and briefly annotated sketch of the most noteworthy literary works produced in Italy over the last 700 years. Rather than present lengthy passages from Dante, Leopardi or Pirandello, a listing of their major works is provided. Whenever possible a standard biographical work is also listed.


St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1126) Il Cantico delle Creature (Canticle of the Sun) — famous collection of poems of Thanksgiving to “brother” sun, “sister” moon, “sister” death.
Biography: Maria Sticco, The Peace of St. Francis, 1962.
Jacopone da Todi (1236-1306) Stabat Mater and Laudi — in contempt of this world; Lauda della Malattia for example (In Praise of Disease).
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) The most widely read and analyzed Italian literary figure. Absolutely essential reading for anyone wishing to understand Italian literature.
La Vita Nuova — a book of memories and romantic confessions.
De Vulgari Eloquentia –– a treatise on the vernacular tongue, establishing Italian on an equal footing with Latin.
De Monarchia –– treatise in favor of a universal secular monarchy.
The Divine Comedy — three books depicting a spiritual journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven; written in the vernacular.
Biography: Michele Barbi, The Life of Dante, 1960.


Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) Thought to be the first great literary figure of the Renaissance, prolific writer and scholar.
Africa — epic poem in praise of Scipio Africanus.
De Viris Illustribus (On the Lives of Famous Men) — biographical studies of ancient heroes, chiefly Roman.
Epistolae (Letters) — interesting letters to Seneca, Quintilian, Vergil, Homer.
Biography: E.H. Wilkins, Life of Petrarca, 1961.
Dino Compagni (1255-1324) Early historian and sometime poet of Florence.
Chronicle of the Events of our Time — impressionistic history of the city of Florence with general references to other Italian cities in the 14th century.
Biography: Ugo Balzani, Early Chroniclers of Europe: Italy (London: 1883).
Giovanni and Matteo Villani (1276-1348) Cronica di Fiorentia — the most widely read source for the social and political history of Florence in the 14th century.
Biography: Louis Green, Chronicle Into History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972). R. Selfe and P. Wicksteed, eds, Vilani’s Chronicle, Selections, (London: 1906).
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) Poet, scholar, compiler of ribald tales, biographer of Petrarch.
The Decameron — Collection of 100 tales told by traveling companions fleeing the Black Death.
Il Filocolo — the young romances of Boccaccio described in some detail.
Vita di Petrarch — account of the great poet whom Boccaccio met in 1350.


Leonardo Bruni (1374-1444) Civic humanist, champion of Florentine and Italian liberty.
In Praise of Florence — title is self-explanatory; Florence is the “New Rome” on the Arno.
History of the Florentine People — early history which searches for human cause and effect in events rather than Providence.
Biography: Hans Baron, The Crisis of the Italian Renaissance, 1955.
Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) Multi-talented writer and theorist in many aspects of life and culture.
On the Family — interesting work which gives insight into the mind and character of 15th century humanists as applied to the family; his attitudes and advice concerning women is most interesting.
On Architecture — important work used by architects to set the composition for necessity, convenience and aesthetics.
Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533) Perhaps the most popular of the Italian writers of the 16th century.
Orlando Furioso — a fantasy epic poem of the Crusades.
Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) “The Prince of the Italian poets” of the Cinquocento.
Gerusalemme Liberata — a tale of the freeing of Jerusalem during the first crusade with many supernatural devices.
Lorenzo de Medici (1448-1492) Virtual ruler of Florence; also the creator of many carnival songs and religious Laudi.
Canti Carnascialeschi — songs and poems to be read to the crowds during carnival.
Biography: Cecilia M. Ady, Lorenzo dei Medici and Renaissance Italy, 1955. Maurice Rowdon, Lorenzo the Magnificent, 1974.
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) “Old Nick,” politician, historian, astute observer of 16th century affairs.
The Prince — “handbook” for the new heads of state; “the end justifies the means.”
Discourses — based on the Roman historian Livy, attempts to draw parallels between the past and present political situations.
History of Florence and the Affairs of Italy — a history of despair questioning why Florence had not met expectations.
Art of War –– treatise in favor of communal militias.
Mandragola — a play of sexual seduction through deception.
Biography: Ralph Roeder, The Man of the Renaissance, 1933.
Francesco Guicciardini (1482-1540) Historian, politician, governor of Modena.
Recollections and Maxims — anecdotes about his life and experiences.
History of Italy — the first really great history of Italy; on a wider European scope than Machiavelli’s work.
Biography: Felix Gilbert, Machiavelli and Guicciardini, 1965.
Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) “The Scourge of Princes,” notorious scandalmonger, poet and most energetic pornographer of the 16th century.
The Courtesan — play mocking Castiglione’s The Courtier.
Ipocrita — the Italian Tartuffe.
Vittoria Colonna (1472-1547) Poetess, friend of Michaelangelo, to whom he dedicated many of his poems.
Rime Varie — poems on the memory of her husband.
Biography: J.A. Symonds, Italian Literature, 2 Vols., Volume 2, 1964.
Michaelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) Painter, sculptor, architect, poet, transitional figure of the Renaissance.
Poems/Letters — his poems number about 300 with numerous letters to friends such as the Medici family, Vittoria Colonna and Giorgio Vasari.
Biography: Creighton Gilbert and Robert Linscott, Complete Poems and Selected Letters of Michaelangelo, 1970.


Paolo Sarpi (1552-1623) Venetian historian and chronicler of the council of Trent. Very “pro-Venice” and anti-established Church in his works.
History of the Council of Trent — a widely read tract critical of the Church’s decisions and methods at the council.
History of Benefices — traces the corruption which the Church has acquired through its wealth.
Biography: Peter Burke, ed., Selections from Sarpi, 1967.
Giovanni Battista Vico (1668-1744) Divided human history into stages which are described according to a formula of growth and decay.
Scienza Nuova — introduction of the cyclical interpretation of history, “corsi and ricorsi,” flux and reflux, with Providence permitting the individual freedom of choice in decisions.
Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) Italian lawyer during the Enlightenment.
On Crime and Punishment — a persuasive treatise against torture and capital punishment; influenced French philosophesin their attitudes toward punishment.
Biography: Venturi, Italy and the Enlightenment.
Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803) Piedmontese nobleman who won recognition as the foremost Italian classical dramatist and herald of the 19th century revival of literary national feeling in Italy.
Vita di Vittorio Alfieri da Astilife of Alfieri — his travels and experiences.
Della Tirannide and Del Principe — two treatises which examine the cultural achievements under despotism and conclude that literature can have true power only in a free government.
Filippo — a play about a Spanish tyrant who was murdered by his own sons.
Biography: The Life of Alfieri, translated by Sir Henry McAnally, 1953.


Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873) One of the three greatest Italian literary figures of the 19th century. Brought the Tuscan dialect into modern literary usage.
I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) — a modern classic steeped in romanticism and national feelings.
Biography: A. Colquhoun, Manzoni and his Times, 1954.
Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) Italy’s greatest poet of the 19th century, steeped in profound philosophical insight and unrestrained despair.
To Italy, The Approach of Death, To Spring — morbid poems lamenting the emptiness of the world.
Biography: J.H. Whitfield, Giacomo Leopardi, 1954.
Giovanni Verga (1840-1922) Sicilian literary exponent of “realism” in literature. Two volumes of his works have been translated by D.H. Lawrence.
Vita dei Campi (Life in the Fields)
Novelle Rusticane (Rustic Stories) — collection of regional Italian folk tales.


Gabriele d’Annunzio (1863-1938) Flamboyant Byronic figure, Italian air ace during World War I, links the Risorgimento to the Fascist era; “the Duce of Italian literature.”
Novelle della Pescara — collection of tales about the Abruzzi region.
Il Piacere (Pleasure) — his first novel about refined sensuality and degradation.
Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) Sicilian playwright, novelist and short story writer. Nobel Prize winner in 1934.
Six Characters in Search of an Author — his most famous play without acts or defined scenes about “unrealized” actors and their search for reality.
Alberto Moravia (1907-) Novelist, essayist and film critic. Perhaps the one living Italian writer with a worldwide reputation.
The Conformist — a psychological masterpiece of moral corruption in Fascist Italy.
Ignazio Silone (1900-) Italian ex-communist, anti-fascist writer whose Bread and Wine aroused the same passionate interest as Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago.
Bread and Wine — story of a communist intellectual in Italy during the war and his experiences while in hiding.
Luigi Barzini (1908-) Son of a great Milanese journalist, studied at Columbia University and was the celebrated foreign correspondent for Milan’s Corriere della Sera. He was elected to the Italian Parliament in 1969.
The Italians — a full-length portrait of Italy.
From Caesar to the Mafia — twenty-one essays on a variety of topics dealing with Italy past and present.
Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-1968) Italian poet awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1959. “A poet desperately yearning for a conversation with mankind.”
The Selected Writings of Salvatore Quasimodo (London: 1973).

  1. Vasari, Lives of the Artists (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946) p. 17.
  2. Frank Lloyd Wright, "On Architecture" quoted in G.E. Kidder Smith, L'Italia Costrusce (London: 1955) p. 14.


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