A mystical radiance illuminates the beauty that the Bible welcomes, in the Apocalypse, as epilogue and dazzling destination of human life: “and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven...” (Bible, Apocalypse, 21; 10-21). It is the archetype of all earthy cities, the mimesis and projection of that unique, intangible and absolute utopia of beauty. “We love only that which is beautiful. What is beautiful? and what is beauty?” The answer to St. Augustine’s resonating question, seems to be given, in a backward journey into time, by the civil faith of an illuminated paganism that sees in beauty the splendour of truth: “Beauty is the splendour of truth” (Plato), and the privilege of common and shared serenity: “The ideal city is not founded for the happiness of just one class of citizens, but to ensure the happiness of the entire polis” (Socrates). Only in an all-encompassing far-reaching prospective, in this embrace of solidarity, that breaks the bonds of selfishness, can the eternal myth of beauty be created. Enjoyment of the city not only implies geometric and spatial rules of urban form, places and roads, which have always been the foundation of the urbs, but also encourages beneficial and positive virtues that revitalise civitas – strength, loyalty, freedom, cleanliness and health. “The loss of beauty coincides, and has always coincided, with the death of the city... If we lose our memory of beauty we can no longer hope to possess it again” (Pier Luigi Cervellati). What is the beauty that will save the city? – we might ask ourselves with the same impetuous trepidation with which Ippolit addresses Prince Miškin in Dostoevskij’s Idiot. What are the principles, rules, measures and compositional techniques, what are the projects, contents and forms that may safeguard and nurture the rare fl ower of beauty? The desire for magnifi cence in cities has always tempted the human soul: from the myth of Babylon with its tower of foundation of heaven and earth, to Niniveh, “the great city with more than a hundred and twenty thousand people” (Bible, Jonah, 4, 10-11), from the city of the Queen of Sheba, overfl owing with Eastern riches, of “camels bearing spices and gold in great magnitude and precious gems” (First Book of Kings, 10, 1-2) to Jerusalem, the Holy City enclosed by three circles of walls around the temple of Salomon, from Athens, Rome and Byzantium to the “pulchritudo civitatis” of the mediaeval cities, from the purity that soars above the symmetries of Renaissance architecture to the “mirabilia urbis” of the Baroque period, up to the terrible perturbing modern metropolis. If “the form of the city changes more quickly than the hearts of people”, as one of the verses of “The Swan” by Baudelaire says, if the city may be read as a magnificent “book of stone”, an extraordinary “tale” engraved in and behind the scenes of roads and squares, as Victor Hugo realised, if the city may be seen as an unbroken and very singular poem, in the scientific manner of Alexander, or driven to aphasia and incommunicability, in the lyrical manner of Borges (“The city lives in me like a poem / that I was not able to set in words”) cadenced by oxymoron and transgressions against semantic, grammatical and compositional normality, like an articulated language of words, sounds and meanings, if one may listen to the city as though it were a musical score with its harmonies and dissonance, solos and choruses, movements and fugues, the beauty of this miraculous and mysterious work of art is a mental utopia, a special and eclectic attribute, a oneness of qualities that may be appreciated with the mind, sight and hearing, the wonderful ability to exalt and combine antinomies, densities and rarefaction, limitations and openness, continuity and divisions, in perennial balance between the precipice and salvation. “Today more than ever there is a need to effectively conciliate practical solutions with the eternal idealism of poetry”, wrote Luigi Dodi. “Today more than ever people must understand its immense value so intimately related to their lives, learn to love and defend it, and reawaken its destiny”. Abandoning yourself to places, at your own pace and the footsteps of those who walked through them with the “infinite” tempo of gait, heartbeat and breath, means discovering the city of our fathers and the past, the true city of memory and history, whose roots sink into the tangle of its origins. An ancient coarse beauty from the past, seems to clamber through the narrow streets, climbing the steep slopes of Marche boroughs, crowned by towers and fortresses on the peaks of stone hillsides.
Beauty Will Save the City / Bedini, MARIA ANGELA; Bronzini, Fabio. - STAMPA. - 2012:(2012), pp. 100-129.