Friday, June 5, 2009

Living with the Past

That tower isn't leaning. It's a distortion caused by the camera lens. The point is, in Siena we see a 700-year-old city center and a brand new construction crane. How do they blend the old and the new?

We live better than kings. If you take a tour of a medieval castle, you realize that even poor people in the USA have a plusher home than the kings in their cold stony rooms. We have glass windows, indoor plumbing, electric lights. We have blue jeans and comfortable underwear. We have duct tape. Life is good.

While improving our standard of living, we tend to destroy the places we love. In Italy, they have had more practice - a couple thousand years - in striking a balance between improvements and preservation. While not perfect, they offer some lessons.

I'm no expert, but I'd like to use this blog to think out loud about how we can come to terms with the past, starting with the Italian example: How they show respect. How they preserve, and how sometimes they fake it. How they find balance. How they sometimes fail.

Mostly I'll use photos and try to keep my comments brief. Here, over the rooftops of old Piacenza, is the new Italy:

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