UNITI: Separate but United

Civita Institute Photo Exhibit, June 2020

To offset the loneliness of coronavirus isolation, the Civita Institute began work in March 2020 on an online digital photo exhibit of beloved moments and impressions of Bellissima Italia. We believe that while we may be thousands of miles apart, we are united by our common experiences in Italy. We asked our newsletter readers and friends to submit a favorite photo along with the story that made this moment memorable for them. The response was celebratory, grateful, and very emotional. As we bring them to you here, in the midst of yet another crisis in America—racial injustice—may these images and stories help us to see anew the values that have united people across time and place.

Click on the image (right) to also view our UNITI: Justice & Inclusion Exhibit, posted October 2020

Villa Farnese, Caprarola, Italy, 2015

Villa Farnese, Caprarola, 2015
© Edmund Ruttledge

To refresh and clear my head during my month-long photo project in Civita, I embarked on an outing to the Villa Farnese. During the Renaissance, the Cardinal Alessandro Farnese also needed a “refresh” from Rome, relocating to the Villa Farnese as primary home and corporate headquarters. I chose a view one would have climbing the stairway to see the Cardinal. We experience the human condition through the time space of our personal lifetime. Art and architecture provide a means to connect with each other across centuries and millennia.

From the Kitchen Door of Lo Studio, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2019

From the Kitchen Door of Lo Studio, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2019

© Janet Neuhauser
2019 Fellowship recipient

I loved this view, and I love to take pictures at night. Living in Civita for 32 days, I was out shooting pictures every day from first light until night. It made a difference in the way the citizens of Civita saw me. They all knew where I lived. I felt a part of the community; this was from my porch where I sat and talked with people who stopped by. I learned from them.

Buon Giorno, Rome, 2017

Buon Giorno, Rome, 2017
© Betty Merken
2011 Astra Zarina Fellowship recipient

Many of my most inspiring moments in Italy focus on the Italian people whom my husband Stefan and I have met and lingered over coffee with. These memorable “chance” meetings have led to enriching friendships which seem to unfold like ribbons with every phone call, email and every return visit to Italy.

Guilio Ed Il Suo Nipote, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2006

Guilio ed Il Suo Nipote, Civita 
di Bagnoregio, 2006
© Miriam Larson 
2006 Fellowship recipient

I spent many afternoons in Giulio's garden, at the base of the bridge to Civita di Bagnoregio. This photo superimposes Giulio holding his grandson with an image of the beautiful hill town he watched over.

Floating Christ, Assisi, 2018

Floating Christ, Assisi, 2018
© Leslie Strom

After a long pilgrimage ending at Assisi, I wandered into a church which featured a gaudy, over-dressed Saint Francis. I was overwhelmed by the vain interpretation. Later, I found this perfect empty church, Santa Maria Maggiore, with the humble, unembellished soaring Jesus. I wished Saint Francis had gotten the same treatment.

Juice Vendor, Seattle, 2019

Juice Vendor, Seattle, 2019
© Stephen Schlott

I live and work in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. As I sometimes stand in the shadow of the iconic Space Needle, our juice vendor across the street, in La Marzocco Café, stands in the shadow of the Duomo in Firenze.

Contrast, Rome, 2015

Contrast, Rome, 2015
© Katherine L. Wright
2016 Fellowship recipient

In the busiest part of Rome, the contrast from rushed public to refreshing private space epitomizes the beauty of the Italian lifestyle. It is something that we all share, the need for a calm, quiet space to relax and rejuvenate.

Lancia in Bagnoregio, Bagnoregio, 2019

Lancia in Bagnoregio, Bagnoregio, 2019
© Luann Bice
2018 Fellowship recipient

Old and new, reflection and reality, what one sees in Italy is often separate but united.

Civita: A Contemporary Classroom, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2019

Civita: A Contemporary Classroom, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2019
© Nancy Josephson
Civita Institute President, 2018-2022

On May 10, 2019, students of all ages in the Viterbo region ascended to the piazza and streets of Civita di Bagnoregio. The Astra Zarina room in the Palazzo Alemanni offered a view of students mingling in groups, hearing top-of-the line music and presentations while also watching video of themselves. With the Renaissance facade of Chiesa S. Donato as a backdrop, it was fascinating to see young Italians thriving on contemporary culture in this ancient hill town.

Tiger Moth (Euplagia Quadripunctaria) and Tonys Roof Sedum, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2019

Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria) and Tony's Roof Sedum, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2019
© Sharon Birzer
2017 Fellowship recipient

My observations documenting the natural world of Civita di Bagnoregio show a fragile yet incredibly enduring hill town where beauty is found at every turn.

Civita: Sanctuary in the Clouds, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2019

Civita: Sanctuary in the Clouds, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2019
© Kathleen Greco
2019 Creative Retreat participant

Perched on the hilltop, Civita di Bagnoregio is a sanctuary in the clouds. This peaceful view from Tony’s garden was a place I visited often during my residency. It is a view I will never forget that still informs my artwork miles apart.

Matrimonio a San Donato, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2012

Matrimonio a San Donato, Civita di Bagnoregio, 2012
© Sharon Mentyka
2012 Astra Zarina Fellowship recipient

During my two-month stay in Civita I counted no less than six weddings at the Chiesa di San Donato. This one was by far the most beautiful, and the most Italian. Before she entered the church, the bride made a small rip in her veil, which I later learned was a tradition to welcome good luck. Oggi, buona fortuna a tutti noi.