Italy - old and (or) new - Bergamo
We arrive in Bergamo after a rather strange day when we got up at 4 to catch our plane, we missed it due to oversight, we quickly got new tickets to Milan with a transfer to Vienna for the same day. This time we caught the plane, the second one too, they lost our luggage, did they have 1 of us. t-shirt and 1 pc. a toothbrush for compensation and a promise to bring the suitcase to the hotel the next morning, and finally, after an Arab bargain with the taxi drivers at the airport, we reached our cherished destination for a modest 100 euros…
Our hosts, ITALCEMENTI, or as their name suggests, a huge Italian cement concern and its derivatives, have put together a dense program for the stay of their guests on the occasion of the announcement of this year's winner in the competition arcVision - Women in Architecture. They take us quickly from the hotel and simply add us to the huge cohort of architects from "all countries", the corresponding number (x2) of journalists and PRs, but with an iron organization for transportation, food and entertainment of those in question.
There is still a whole day until the beginning of the actual event for which we are here.
Our day according the program includes a walk around Bergamo (plus excessive amounts of food, for which a similar excessive duration is set aside, but this hardly needs to be specified, we are in Italy)
Of course, not any Bergamo, but the old town.
Now the nihilist in me will speak - all medieval Italian cities are alike; some are on a river, others on the sea, others - at the foot of an important mountain pass, but if you have seen one, you have seen them all, at least through my architectural eyes; and I seem to have seen enough already. I will walk you through this, following the professional guide who led us not out of love for the story, but because of some thoughts that led me to what I saw.
The old town of Bergamo is situated on a hill, conveniently rising above the flat field which precedes the majestic Alps; everywhere (except in our country and the harsh northern countries) the hills are a favorite place for urban efforts of the rulers - difficult to attack and you always see a foreign army, raising a smoke to the sky, which comes to explain who commands around.
This view from old Bergamo is towards the Alps, in the other direction a dull flat horizon stretches all the way to Venice and the Adriatic Sea. The proximity of Venice probably already tells you who "commanded around" for quite a long time. If after a while you do not recognize the style of a Venetian palace, then you have not been diligent enough in the history of architecture.
The town is a series of mini open spaces, such as:
And narrow gloomy streets in which the sun penetrates for no more than an hour under good circumstances and geographical directions; on the other hand, you can always have coffee with the neighbor across the house and ask for sugar without having to go downstairs at all. Well, I'm overdoing it, I'm getting better: and narrow gloomy streets, typical of all the cities of this historical period (even my favorite Scandinavians).
In fact, what is more special about the cities in question is the ubiquitous "stoning" of the areas, which at that time was a sign of civilization. All sorts of places unoccupied by buildings are densely paved with hard flooring - preferably stone or baked clay in the absence of stone.
Not that people didn't like greenery, no, everything else was just greenery and it was accessible to everyone, and the stone pavement was only for those who had it.
Soon we go out on the central square of the town; we obediently listen to the story of the historical vicissitudes that led to this particular configuration of the building stock ring (everything good is left by the Venetian usurpers).
This tower beats all points in volume proportion - old and older.
As in every old town, everything is on top of each other, even this solar calendar, nestled somehow between the arches supporting the huge building above our heads for some 500 years. Once, at its zenith, it showed which day of the year it was. It no longer shows.
Passing it, we reach the culmination of the official tourist route - three churches.
Except that they are built almost side by side, one baroque, the other renaissance, the third ... pooh, I don't remember, all three are characterized by excessive splendor and gloom, one in direct proportion to the other:
The only thing they can provoke in me is the question why?
So I'm not an atheist. No one is; even if he tries to convince you otherwise, he still isn't; even Stephen Hawking admitted he was not, though in his old age.
The tendency to believe in the existence of something higher and universal divine providence is deeply ingrained in our human nature, no matter how loud we give to this tendency, but looking at these churches and at the same time trying to imagine people's lives and way of life, who built them, I am deeply perplexed.
And, as has been the case before, perplexities do not give me peace.
Even if I accept that the church was simply a well-conscious economic player taking advantage of its power and position, I cannot comprehend what gave it this power, what possessed the minds and souls of the people so deeply. To all people, to the poor (and it is precisely their labor that stands behind such buildings that have survived to this day), it is precisely their misery and their generations that have generated the surplus that enabled the construction of this excessive splendor.
The contrast is stunning!
Because today, for some reason, we do not realize that these same monuments were built at the expense of the miserable and often unbearable life of ordinary people. What is left is far from the house of the common man - but the palace of the tyrant, the temple of the church that distributes indulgences, the palaces of the rich merchant, all persons whose modern personification the Bulgarian condemns and spits at.
This same Bulgarian is a deep fan of everything Italian, sometimes to the point of obscenity, and is ready to lightly tear down, remove and erase from the face of the earth the blood and sweat of his own mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, and society and inequality. , allowed the construction of both, is the same, not to say that ours from 50 years ago was much fairer and more humane to the common man than the Italian of 500 years ago; double standard, pure nihilism or simply a lack of ability to think soberly and independently?
I'm a fan of such things.
The evening ends at the headquarters of the hosts (modern version of the monuments from 500 years ago, but you will not see it photographed by any journalist), the incredibly well-organized event, with the necessary fanfare and trumpets and all the seriousness that the topic of women's role in architecture and the whole world requires. The hosts themselves are modest and almost invisible, although they patronize and sponsor the colossal organization and the entire competition.
While the next day we are dragged around Verona, no different from Bergamo, except for a few exaggerated "artifacts" from the supposed homes of Montecchi and Capuleti and a well-preserved Roman arena, the same narrow streets and periodic squares, the same fortifications, though organized around river, instead of a hill, the theme of religion and its incredible power over the minds and souls of people in the Middle Ages continues to give me no peace.
I'm not a big fan of history, probably because of the way it is served at school, but a quick different look (I recommend the short films of the brothers Hank and John Green in the tube) over the times dating back to more than 50 years ago, can only reveal to you a historical connection between grand architecture and society. Namely, that lasting architecture appears only where there is surplus capital and the need to consolidate the influence of that capital over others, that is, to consolidate prestige, whether it is deserved or not.
Architecture after the great wars so far, fortunately, has another function.
So, dear friends, let us return to the church.
If once the church in its material manifestation was supposed to make people feel small, insignificant and transient, today its role is significantly rethought, even of the Catholic Church.
If the 500-year-old churches cause me only boredom and social revolt, then what I will show you succeeds, without a guide's story, without exaltation and lofty words, only with the means of architecture, to provoke ..., I know, perhaps it is too personal to be clothed in words.
This makes good architecture - it provokes and makes you Feel what it intends to feel, according to its function.
As we approach her by taxi, not knowing if we will be able to reach her at all, in the evening, her silhouette literally sings against the blackened sky.
The doors open as I take pictures and people come out, my smile stretches wide.
We approach and, despite the riveting detail of the door leaf itself, we hurry to enter.
We find ourselves in a small narrow room, above our heads hangs this:
going left and ...
Somewhere here I have to sit down and stop shooting, because my eyes are properly moistened, and every countdown of the trigger on the camera is like sacrilege.
Uh, yes, I know that photos can't convey the feeling at all, if they could, people wouldn't build buildings, they would just paint them. And the building must be much more than its drawing, its visualization; the drawing will not make you cry, it will not make you smile, it will not humble you, it will not elevate you, it will not make you break away from your bad thoughts.
And a building like this, you won't even notice when it did all these things with you as it continues to smile kindly and humbly at you from somewhere.
We go out, after us the report locks. I think I kept smiling for a few more hours.
From those fabulous states, when you do not need to communicate verbally with anyone, it is enough that you feel the hundreds of other people around you and at the same time endless inner peace. if you open your mouth, this peace with which you have drunk to the brim will escape irretrievably outside like elusive smoke.
If a place makes you feel that way, won't you come back to it again and again ?! remain an atheist…
(It turned out that the main credit for the realization of this architectural jewel goes to our hosts from Italcementi - and the concrete and stamps inside, and the fact that the building is white as a sheet of paper and still is. Probably out of modesty did not bring us to it see, for the other miracles of courage of the same people I will tell you soon with photos from Milan)