Italian influences in art and architecture are evidenced throughout Washington D.C. and its surroundings--from the Roman classicism of the Jefferson Memorial to the Brumidi frescoes adorning the Capitol, from the mosaics and stone carvings in local churches, to the Italianate villas and gardens at Dumbarton Oaks and Monticello. Yet, the story of the enormous artistic impact Italians have had on our area has been largely overlooked.
A new, glossy, large-format book titled The Italian Legacy in Washington, D.C.: Architecture, Design, Art and Culture, recently unveiled at the Italian Embassy, addresses that oversight by exploring the richness of Italian influences and contributions to our nation’s capital. In a preface that includes remarks from officials, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and Italian Ambassador Giovanni Castellaneta, the Ambassador writes, “Italian immigrants were there when America was struggling for independence, and Italian workers, craftsmen, architects, engineers, sculptors, stonecutters, painters and artisans have been a constant presence ever since.”
All aspects of the Italian imprint on the Washington D.C. area are covered in the book’s two dozen chapters. Each chapter is devoted to a detailed examination of Italy’s presence in, for example, the U.S. Capitol, the Watergate complex, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate, the new Italian Chancery, Holy Rosary Church, and numerous other sites.
The book is a visual feast of historic drawings and sketches, as well as stunning photographs by Max Mackenzie, a Washington, D.C.-based photographer who specializes in architectural subjects.
Edited by Luca Molinari and Andrea Canipari, and published by Skira, the book is expected to be available in February 2008; it can be pre-orderd at Amazon.com. •
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“Holy Rosary church has been at the heart of the religioius life of the Italian community in Washington since the early 1900s when Archbishop Giovanni Bonzano s
ummoned Father Nicola De Carlo to organize Italian-speaking Catholics in the city. Holy Rosary Church was designed by the Roman architect Aristide Leonori (who had previously conceived the Catholic cathedrals in St. Louis, Missouri and Buffalo, N.Y.) in keeping with the characteristics of early Italian Renaissance churches.
The façade and exterior walls are faced in granite, while the interiors are finished in stucco and scagliola with decorations and stained glass windows crafted by Italian artisans.
“In spite of the First World War, construction began in 1918 and was completed with a grand public ceremony in 1923. In the 1970s, under the supervision of pastor, Father Caesar Donanzan, work began on what would become the Casa Italiana, a neo-Renaissance building that is a perfect complement to the church.”--Ennio Caretto
Edited by Luca Molinari and Andrea Canepari
Published by SKIRA