By Mahnaz Yousefzadeh
This study of the 1st nationwide competition of recent Italy traditionally reconstructs the occasion, using a mass of un-catalogued and unpublished files left by way of the organizers, which positions the Centenary as a platform upon which another definition of Italian nationwide identification emerged.
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Additional info for City and Nation in the Italian Unification: The National Festivals of Dante Alighieri
Old animosities—in the German case, between Catholics and Protestants—were recollected and politicized, used as tools for the distinct efforts to delimit the national identity. The project for nationalizing Dante may be viewed similarly. It indexes the Florentine initiative to (1) mark out a distinct Tuscan identity and (2) position that identity at the head of Italian national culture. 65 It posited the difference as between Florence as eternal museum and “emporio artistico,”66 and Turin as the quintessential “modern” city: To look for monuments of art [In Turin], erected to immortalize the deeds of ancient heroes, would be useless .
One Florentine philologist and cultural historian, lamenting the state’s transference of artwork into various museums, galleries, and libraries of the provinces, spoke of the shift as follows: . . in Florence, convents and monasteries are art galleries. And I do not mean galleries in the usual sense of the word. That term normally refers to rooms or warehouses more or less decorated, where a quantity of statues and paintings are accumulated, after having been moved from their original location, from the air, and from the background that gave them meaning, in order to place them according to the capacity of the walls and to the possibilities afforded by the lighting.
Il pensiero della grande Solennità fu dunque in lui (Corsini) indipendente da ogni contaminazione”29). By the following November (1863), the municipality of Florence approved the Centenary celebration to take place in Florence in May 1865. That same decree also approved the formation of a The City Organizes the Nation 45 commission in charge of preparations for the Centenary. 30 A few months later, the municipality authorized the astonishing sum of 350,000 lire for the festival budget. To appreciate this sum, it is useful to compare it with the monies used for other Florentine festivals of that same year.