Piazza: Italy's Heart and Soul
This sumptuous coffeetable book is as sensual, robust, colorful, stylish, passionate, illuminating and altogether enchanting as the inimitable institution it celebrates.
One of the defining glories of Italy is the piazza. The piazza is the center – geographical and spiritual – of just about every Italian village, town and metropolis. “Piazza: Italy’s Heart and Soul” is a sumptuous new book that celebrates this inimitable institution in all its roles and richness. The writer-photographer team behind the book, Joe Bauwens and Marybeth Flower, crisscrossed Italy for five months to produce this portrait of 25 piazze, ranging from Aosta, Orta San Giulio, Udine and Cortina d’Ampezzo in the far north to Cefalu and Taormina on the island of Sicily.
While Bauwens and Flower include spectacular shots of famous piazza such as San Marco in Venice, del Campo in Siena and San Pietro in the Vatican, for me the real delight of the book is the simple photos that capture the everyday warmth, passion, camaraderie, and style of piazze humble and grand throughout the country. We see the piazza as the stage for extravagant commemorations and elaborate operas, but also as the setting for the everyday rites of morning espresso, afternoon play and evening passeggiata.
Unlike some coffeetable books, “Piazza” does not preen itself as a sacred tome that is almost too precious and pristine to be touched; rather it presents a living, breathing, jostling, sometimes rough-edged and always robust portrait of Italian life at its center, lived and evoked in all its sensual splendor. By the time I finished this book, I could smell the espresso in those cafes, hear the pealing of church bells and cries of budding soccer stars, feel the country’s stylish pulse all around me. “Piazza” enchantingly immersed me in Italy. Joe and Marybeth: Your passion shines through. Grazie!
[Piazza: Italy’s Heart and Soul, text and photography by Joe Bauwens and Marybeth Flower; published by Eccola Press; hardcover; 240 pages; $50.]
For information on Adventure Collection members' trips to Italy, visit AdventureCollection.com.