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THE CITY OF THE UMBRIAN GRIFFIN WILLIAM HARDY ALEXANDER T HE prophet of Israel learned to his great surprise that there were seven thousand in the kingdom who had not bowed the knee to Baal; it is a humour of statistics that there are about the same number of English and Americans permanently resident in and about Florence. It is also illuminating as to the vagaries of the human mind that when some one casually mentioned the latter fact to me, the other promptly popped into the forefront of consciousness. .For the selection of Florence by these seven thousand of our kin there are many excellent reasons. The Lung' Arno from the Ponte V~cchio to the Pescara, with its Dantes or even persons ·tess spiritually minded still encountering lovely Beatrices, is a perpetual delight at sundown, and Santa Croce grips the heart with a hundred bands of compelling love. Fiesole in one direction and the Certosa in another give prospects that are among life's richest and n1ost permanent satisfactions~ Yet Florence , for all its adorableness, is situated in a pot-hole, and those of the seven thousand who lack the means to flit when they will, are forced to realize it in the late spring and summer when the city stifles in muggy heat. But there is another I talian town, just a hundred miles away, the city set on a hill that cannot be hid. Fifteen hundred feet or so above sea-level, a good six hundred above the environing plain, it is an eagle's nest perched among the Umbrian hills, where every summer evening cool breezes from the friendly Apennines temper what heat the day has shown. · I have been suffocatingly sleepless in Florence even though my window gave gener207 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY ously on the Arno; Perugia grants peace and repose at eventide. It is curious that on such grounds alone it has not attracted and retained more permanent Englishspeaking residents, and that the weary and battered summer tourist does not tarry there longer, if indeed he finds it at all. To be sure it is perhaps, artistically speaking, insignificant beside Florence; yet to those who seek to enjoy a little well rather than to live for ever hungry in the midst of great provision, magnas inter opes inops, Perugia affords an attractive field. There is, for example, the Pinacoteca Vanucci, absolutely priceless for the study of the dreaming tranquillity which marks Umbrian art; it is filled with the handiwork of the great Perugino himself, Pietro Vanucci, and of such other luminaries in the Umbrian firmament as Gentile da Fabriano, Benedetto Bonfigli, and the prolific Pinturicchio. It is a feast of which you cannot long support the richness, and fortunately the lighting compels you to come at different hours for different rooms. And not everybody knows that Raphael's first public fresco is to be found at Perugia in the chapel of the former convent of San Severo, in curious .and informative juxtaposition with the last work of Perugino. - The Cappella di San Giovanni in the Collegia odi Cambia, covered with the paintings of Giannicola Manni, after he had returned from three years of inspiring contact with Andrea del Sarto in Florence, is a tiny jewel of great price, needing to be well examined in all its facets. No doubt, too, the connoisseur of architecture has a wider_ range in Florence for his studies and his enthusiasms but the Palazzo del Municipio in Perugia is in itself worth a long trip and an extended stay. The northern fa~ade with its magnificent .scalone leading up to the door of the Sala dei Notarii, under the bronze lion and the griffin cast ~08 THE UMBRIAN GRIFFIN by Ugolino in the late thirteenth century, ranks very high among the public monuments of the Italian media eva; the lively animals mark a new epoch in the renaissance of bronze casting. The little Byzantine church of Sant' Angelo almost forces from your. British phlegm a cry of delight, followed by fervent thanksgivings that parish poverty has compelled it to remain primitive as it should be, while San Pietro de' Cassinensi, at just the opposite extreme of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 207-215
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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