Show at Florida State University Study Center in Florence
Bucher-Loewenstein Interns Study the Ruined Castle of Cetamura (Civitamura)
Life in a Medieval Castle at Civitamura between Florence and Siena, an exhibition curated by FSU graduate student Holly Piper and undergraduate Brittney Soukup, opened in the Fine Arts Gallery at the Florida State University Study Center in Florence, on June 9, 2022. Holly and Brittney were selected for the museum internships to the Cetamura program sponsored by Suzanne Bucher in memory of her husband Robert Loewenstein.
As Bucher-Loewenstein interns, they spent their first week of the program in Florence, visiting and critiquing some of the most famed museums in Italy. Digital expert Jacopo Mazzoni provided a seminar on 3-D printing. After that, they worked in Chianti at the Cetamura excavations, all the while planning and eventually mounting their show in the gallery adjacent to the office of FSU Florence director Frank Nero. Cetamura director and professor Nancy de Grummond mentored the interns, and Florence Program Assistant Casey Taylor facilitated graphic design.
Documentary evidence and excavation data have indicated that a castle once stood at Cetamura in the 12th century, at a time when the site was known as Civitamura. The owners have been identified as members of the powerful Firidolfi Ricasoli family. Only the foundations remain, however, since the castle seems to have been intentionally destroyed by enemies of the Firidolfi, perhaps from Florence itself. The plan of Brittney and Holly was to recreate details about the life of rural medieval Italy, specifically in a countryside castle in between the burgeoning cities of Florence and Siena.
The interns created their own photo gallery of buildings in Florence, Siena and the Chianti region of Tuscany to show what castle architecture might look like in the Middle Ages. Their show also referenced real building materials from Cetamura, such as the local stone and possible roofing schemes. They included items from daily life that would appeal to the senses, such as real spices used in the Middle Ages (e.g., pepper, saffron, rosemary) and samples of the type of textile used for making clothing for both men and women (linen, wool, silk, jute). The whole show was framed by a well-researched timeline of international events and especially the struggle between political parties such as the Guelfs, who favored the Pope, and the Ghibellines, who looked to the Holy Roman Emperor for leadership.
The exhibition opened with a Power-Point presentation by Holly and Brittney for the students in the class at the FSU Study Center of professor Luca Bufano, who have been studying the relationship between culture and cuisine in Italy. Cetamura mates from the excavation program attended to cheer them on. Next was a reception organized in the FSU office of Vanessa Kummer, serving panforte from Siena, a medieval pilgrims’ staple. Then Brittney and Holly cut garnet and gold FSU ribbons to open the show.
Life in a Medieval Castle at Civitamura was scheduled to remain open during the summer of 2022 at the FSU Florence Study Center.