Guided by the expert eye of "La Grafica" editor Giuseppe Milani, these two handsome hardback books explore the architecture of one of Italy's most picturesque locales, Verona, from multiple perspectives. In "I Cinguantacinque Ponti di Verona," (2003; 182 pages; approximately 150 plates), Milani explores the many and highly varied bridges that once spanned and still span the area, ranging from shots taken in the 1860s to the 1990s, and documenting not only the beauty of these structures but their evolution, construction, repair and their relationship to the surrounding urban scene. These wonderful moments in time capture people strolling or relaxing upon these bridges along with the exceptional latticework, masonry, and myriad design details that make each one unique. From the nearly ruined 16th-century stone masterwork, the Ponte Pietra a valle, photographed in 1859 (its end came in 1945 when the Nazi's blew it up; only to have the town rebuild it from the bricks retrieved from the river) to the modern-era steel spans that survive to this day, these remarkable works of civic pride and craftsmanship are preserved in photographic splendor by Milani.
Likewise, Milani's more recent tome, "Verona nelle fotografie dell'Ottocento" (2005; 223 pages; approximately 200 plates) explores the great urban images of Verono in the 19th century, preserving such superb architectural niceties as the Portoni della Bra, a high stone archway with its large clock centered between the dual arches. Many such portales are in evidence here, along with images of the vast piazzas and plazas, filled with citizenry during state occasions, or else majestically emptied of people.
The street scenes, the churches, and the countless facades are made remarkably vivid in these vintage photos, which are crisply printed on a fine glossy stock. The result is a textural wonderland of Italian culture and architectural fascination, bringing us closer to a vanished time than we would otherwise think possible.
For more information on these two books, visit the Website http://www.lagraficaeditrice.it
or email tiplagrafica@tin..it
Matt Damsker is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, "Rock Voices", was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in the book, "Marcus Doyle: Night Vision" was published this past November.