Moving from Paris to Rome is equivalent to traveling from the First to the Third World. While the city of Paris has a very advanced tourism system and the maintenance of its streets, parking lots, buildings and monuments can be enjoyed without a hitch, in Rome the opposite is true, as the chaos in the city is huge: there is no maintenance of streets or public buildings, except those that are occupied by the government of the day, and pedestrian traffic is confusing and puzzling.
But the most dramatic thing about Rome is the frustration of its residents who believe they have been victims of some kind of international conspiracy that has stripped them of their old fundamental rights, and that they no longer have salvation or a future. Most believe that the European Union has hurt them, and that the lives of future generations will be even worse than now.
As they have been stuck in a series of corrupt and inefficient governments for many years, they cannot understand that the source of their problems is not the institutions of the European Union, nor the widespread use of the euro but their tendency to live outside reality and at a higher level than other nations. Fortunately, for the Italians and tourists from around the world, the cultural, artistic and architectural wealth of all of Italy is huge and will still be able to survive for many more years with the contribution from tourist inflow which is still, after the United States and France, one of the highest in the world.
However, our trip to Italy was not focused on Rome, but on Florence, the most beautiful Renaissance jewel in the world, where the first attempts to draw a three-dimensional human figure started in the early 15th century, when the young Masaccio created the first biblical image of Adam and Eve fleeing from Paradise crying and with their feet on the ground. This amazing mural is located in the Brancacci Chapel to one side of the main altar of Santa María Carmine, right on the north side of the Arno River. Along with the wonder of capturing the figure of the human being for the first time in history also came the feeling and the spaces of a universe that could be observed on different planes and at different distances.
The puzzling and contradictory aspect of the plastic arts and architecture has been that as they have advanced with the addition of movement, sound and virtual images provided by new technologies, these wonders are losing the interest of the general public and are becoming forms of expression that are not understood by the majority. And with each passing day they are fading from people’s emotional sensibility and disappearing from written information media and from the media in general.
As digital life develops, all these cultural events are disappearing and are no longer part of the history taught in schools around the world, where the present and the immediate future are all that matters to new generations. For my descendants and the young people of the new generations the old plastic and architectural arts have been losing their meaning and have gradually become useless historical references.
Somehow this new trip to Florence with the eldest of my grandchildren after more than a year has allowed me to understand his profound resistance to my taste for old Renaissance art as well as his general lack of interest in all things from the past, including artistic expression in all its forms. I guess it is a message from the new generations to show us their total refusal to recognize events that happened in the past, as well as the idea that life today is reduced to enjoyment of a few moments in the present and the immediate future.
Addendum: I obviously cannot easily accept this new reality, even while it is also obvious that this same generational phenomenon has always happened in human history, but it has never been felt as intensely as it is now.
Perhaps these elements of rejection of the past by the new generations have their foundation in a kind of preparation for a new world with new paradigms that will bring a ‘new renaissance’ of Humanity.