Friday, August 15, 2008

Sprezzatura – 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World

The term “sprezzatura” may not be familiar to everyone. The book Sprezzatura* – 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the Word even footnotes the definition on the front cover: * “the art of effortless mastery”. Of course our faithful 6 Travelmarx readers may recall that we have already mentioned this in previous posts Baby You’ve Got Some Sprezzatura and Child Sprezzatura. In those posts we defined it as a certain nonchalance that makes what one does seem uncontrived and effortless.

The book in question is by Peter D’Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish. It consists of 50 short chapters or passages on different aspects of Italian genius. Mostly the genius is a person or persons, but a few cases the chapters deal with an entity like the Roman Republic or Venice. The book pretty much goes in chronological order but each chapter can be read in any order. (At Travelmarx we prefer to read starting from the back of the book. And in this case, this works well.)

The book reminds me a lot of the series Connections, because each chapter is like the start of a detective story. There are enough names and dates dropped in any given chapter to keep you researching for days. One detective story stood out for me is Chapter #31 Catherine de’ Medici: Godmother of French cuisine where we start with Catherine de’ Medici (1519 – 1589), talk about Platina’s Book – an Italian cookbook from 1474, the Sicilian Francesco Procopio and what he was doing in Paris, Café Procope, Maria de’ Medici (1575 – 1642) – another Medici French queen, and finally La Varenne (1618 – 1678) who worked in Maria’s kitchen.

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