Lantern Bearers and Pathfinders. The Journey to Italy in the Sixteenth Century
(Leen Huet) The Low Countries - 2018, № 26, pp. 60-69
Italy: sun, the Mediterranean, beautiful landscapes, delicious food, cities and villages filled with art. This is how we northerners now view this southern land. Our ancestors in the sixteenth century had a somewhat different list: terrifying Alps, sun, art, the pope in Rome, Ottoman pirates on the Mediterranean, fellow subjects of Emperor Charles in Naples and deeper down into the boot, where they would feel at home; Virgil’s birthplace, in Mantua; Virgil’s grave, in Naples; the Lago di Averno, where Virgil’s Aeneas descended into the underworld; good business deals. Anyone who spoke and wrote humanist Latin could, with the right recommendations, go to Italy and find an interesting career as a secretary or a librarian. Those who had mastered the universal language of art could work anywhere in the country, in studios both large and small. Travellers from the north, who were all, for the sake of convenience, known as fiamminghi (Flemings), were usually quick to find work in what Italians considered their speciality: painting landscapes.
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