In Raffaello’s Footsteps

A view of Urbino

Art to Heart’s next summer course will take place in Raffaello’s land, the beautiful Pesaro province in the Marche region.

The art programme will be inspired by a gentle landscape of rolling hills dotted with medieval walled villages, rock castles and the magnificent  Renaissance town of Urbino.

In Urbino, a long time ago, I spent three wonderful years as an art student (see the blog “The School of the Book’ below posted May 4, 2010) and after I graduated I had desperately wanted to stay and work there. To me Urbino represented Beauty and Art; its breathtaking
architecture and the surrounding landscape of green hills and distant blue mountains always felt strangely familiar although I am not from that region.

As a student I lived in accommodation with frescos on the ceilings and the art college I attended was housed in the Duke’s palace where many Renaissance masterpieces where displayed. One of my favorite painting was the Portrait of a Young Woman, also known as La Muta (the silent one) by Raphael.

I loved the fine precision of its execution and the modesty and elegance of the figure.

Portrait of a Young Woman by Raphael

When walking through those rooms I was acutely aware that some of those masters had been there and that I was walking in their footsteps. I loved history of art and I was living it!

At weekends with my fellows students we would go inland in search of hidden treasures. The Apennines were just one hour drive and once over the mountains we would be in Tuscany or Umbria. During one of those trips in a small cemetery chapel, placed over the high altar we admired the famous Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca, right there in the middle of nowhere! In 1992 it was moved to the Museo della Madonna del Parto in Monterchi, Tuscany.

Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca

I never found any work in Urbino and so I moved to Pesaro where I opened a graphic design studio with another two partners. Pesaro is a seaside town on the Adriatic coast, a family-friendly holiday resort with wide beaches that stretch between two hills. In Pesaro everybody moves around on bicycles.

Piazza del Popolo, Pesaro

In all I have lived in the region for fifteen years and during that time I roamed the area in my beautiful red Renault 4 visiting every valley, rock, castle, church, hill and mountain until I decided to move to Ireland! The rest is history.

by Jole Bortoli