When I visited Italy three years ago, I was amazed. Aside from when I had first sighted Ayers Rock, I have never had a moment in Australia where something caused my heart to almost literally skip a beat. In Italy, seeing St Mark’s Basilica, the Arena of Verona, the Duomo in Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and so much of Rome, I had almost constant ‘wow’ moments where I saw something amazing – especially as there are few buildings 200 years old in Australia, let alone 2000 years old.
But it also clarified my thinking around a few concepts. In particular, those of ‘Elegance’, ‘Magnificence’, ‘Crassness’ and ‘Crudity’.
I would define them thus:
‘Elegance’ represents poor people and communities behaving well. Towns like Pisa and Treviso with all their beautiful buildings and general classiness.
‘Magnificence’ represents rich people and communities behaving well. For example, awesome cities like Venice and Florence.
‘Crassness’ is all about rich people and communities behaving poorly and vulgarly. I found something extremely crass about Rome. In particular, the Vittoriano (aka The Altar to the Fatherland), on top of the Capitoline Hill disgusted me.
And then there is ‘Crudity’ – when poor people and cities behave badly. Naples was a prime example of that to me, particularly with the litter and graffiti and rundown nature of the place, combined with the passive-agressiveness.
Yes, that is Vesuvius – reminding them that they do not need to do repairs or clean up, as the volcano might do all that for them and save them the effort.
And look at how damaged the old painting in this Neapolitan church is. They just don’t care.
I’m now three weeks out from my next trip, and wondering what I will see this time. I am going back to Rome, Messina and Treviso, but I will be seeing at least six cities I have not visited yet – Cosenza, Reggio, Salerno, Bologna, Turin and Milan. I wonder what I might make of those.