On Monday evening, the attic of the famous Chiesa di San Domenico, which is normally closed to the public, opened its doors to welcome Urban Spaces students and Professors Ray Lorenzo, Giampiero Bevagna (Archaeology) and Philippa Stannard (Photography). The church’s original building was constructed in 1304, and was consecrated in 1459. The subsequent centuries of maintenance, expansion, and elaboration eventually produced the current Gothic exterior unmistakable to any resident of Perugia’s historic center.
The Chiesa’s glorious sunlit attic provided the perfect backdrop for discussing the challenge currently facing a monument that has already survived so much: the constant threat of being forgotten. As daily life no longer revolves around the activities of the church or even those of the “old neighborhood,” the place Perugia’s many landmarks hold in the hearts of the people needs to be re-evaluated and reframed in the context of modern city living.
As Professor Bevagna explained, buildings such as the Chiesa provide the local community with a sense of identity and, all too often, as the buildings are forgotten so are the communal bonds that once linked family to family, generation to generation.
The task set to Urban Spaces, then, is to collaborate with local community leaders and activists to reinvigorate a neighborhood’s sense of responsibility to its monuments, and a sense of joy in Perugia’s incredibly rich history. To that end, two Umbra photography students set their lenses to documenting the group’s tour through the Chiesa for the local neighborhood association. For foreign students dedicating their time to preserving local history, there is no better place in the entire commune to be inspired than in San Domenico’s attic.
Click here to learn more about Urban Spaces: Rebuilding Community in Perugia.