Love is in the heART

The wonderful thing about walking around any Italian city is that you can see that love is everywhere: The poems written on walls dedicated to a girl, on the bridges of Venice or Rome where the “locks of love” are tied or near the balcony of Romeo and Juliet where the names of the young lovers are encircled in hearts.

These are among the obvious signs of love that you can find in Italy, however there is a richness and a fabric of love which can be explored in Italian literature, music and art, and for me this is the most touching and heartfelt way to investigate the subject of love in all its various forms: 

Romantic love as in the true story of Paolo and Francesca which is told in Dante’s work the “Divine Comedy” describes the tragedy of the conflict between morality and passion, which are two invincible forces. The families Polenta and Malatesta were among the most powerful in the region of Romagna. After years of conflict and internal political unrest they decided that a resolution could be found in the marriage of their children. Francesca da Polenta was forced to marry Gianciotto Malatesta a man who was described as old and crippled. Francesca however falls in love with her husband’s brother, Paolo. The story ends in the well-known and tragic end of the double murder of lovers by the husband. Although  Paolo and Francesca are placed among the damned you can not help but feel a deep sense of compassion for them. 

Inquisitive love as in a “History of my life” by  Giacomo Casanova. This is a book which tells the story of a man who loved life passionately and was so drawn to curiosity that he never looked at the world through complacent eyes. Women definitely captured his attention and for this, he is so often misunderstood. This quote by him demonstrates beautifully for me the essence of his personality and the traits of adventure, excitement, enthusiasm that we share. 

“Cultivating whatever gave pleasure to my senses was always the chief business of my life; I have never found any occupation more important. Feeling that I was born for the sex opposite mine, I have always loved it and done all that I could to make myself loved by it.I have also been extravagantly fond of good food and irresistibly drawn by anything which could excite curiosity.”  - Giacomo Casanova, History of My Life, Vols 1-2 

Passionate and violent love like in the opera “I pagliacci”. The music is so intense and yet so graceful that I cannot listen to it without my emotions running high and low. The opera explores the culture, the history and traditions of southern Italy.  Love in its rawest state is experienced  throughout the story. Passion sets the lovers slave to their feelings while jealousy, turns love into hate.   

Sensual love is revealed in the sculpture “Amore and Psiche” by Canova (Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss) The story of Cupid and Psyche is a famous folk tale about life, love and immortality written by Lucius Apuleius from his novel Metamorphoses. Canova depicts the god Cupid embracing Psyche, immediately after he has awoken her lifeless body with a kiss. Canova is a master not only for his technical skills in creating beauty from marble, but more importantly he evokes the spirit of the story through the feelings of love and tenderness we feel when we view this piece.   


Photos Wikipedia