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tv   Satellite News From Taiwan  PBS  January 15, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm PST

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american public television presents the splendors of the world in the lifelike reality of high-definition television. hi. i'm rudy maxa, marveling still at the layer upon layer of europe's past. you're never far from a reminder here, a something that says: "pay attention. you're not the first." well, in this program, we look at that awesome transformation that hurled medieval europe into the modern age. so stay with us to explore the renaissance on smart travels. smart travels is made possible in part by, a travel web site that offers travelers a variety of ways to find the trip they're looking for, including flights, hotels, and vacation packages. don't just travel. travel right. captioning made possible by u.s. department of education
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announcer: smart travels is a grand tour of the old world-- the people, places, sights, and distinctly european flavors. our host is travel writer and columnist rudy maxa, public radio's original savvy traveler. now, tips, trips, and secret places on smart travels. maxa: europe is famous for historic sights,
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the remarkable clues that let us speculate on how people lived centuries ago. in italy, travelers can picnic in the shadow of a medieval tower... and almost hear the clank of chains. in old churches, they see stunning frescoes and statues, figures geometrically grouped, rigid and symbolic... medieval, flat. and then, at some point, they're struck with a pronounced change in the art. they find themselves staring at a real likeness, a face filled with grief or joy, a figure stooped... or a muscled torso...
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or a fresco drawing them into its depth. such grace could be classic greek or roman, but more likely-- if they're in, say, florence-- they've spotted a piece of the renaissance. this time, we look at renaissance masterpieces and explore a bit of the rich legacy behind them. for a glimpse of that rich legacy, we start our tour in rome. from rome, we'll travel north through italy-- first to florence, then to venice and milan, crossing into france's loire valley. and we'll cap our renaissance trip near london at hampton court. sightseeing in rome-- what an experience. the city's copycat architecture and sculpture illustrates how the romans borrowed from the greeks but built larger. this is where the renaissance comes in. the word literally means "rebirth"
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and refers to italy's 15th-century passion for reviving the ideals of the classical world-- ancient greece and rome from 500 b.c. to 500 a.d. the art waited for almost a thousand years to be lovingly rediscovered. no wonder the renaissance artists trekked here by hook or crook to study these ancient ruins. michelangelo was one of them. he was the 16th-century sculptor and pride of florence. but the church in rome could not resist calling on his talents again and again and again. michelangelo's favorite tool was the claw chisel, and only when coerced repeatedly by pope julius ii did he reluctantly pick up a paintbrush and head for rome to take on the ceiling of the sistine chapel at the vatican. here he worked for 4 years, creating what came to be the most revered single fresco in the world.
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the story of the creation, god and adam, the prophets and the seers-- more than 600 figures of incredible proportion are presented in the awesome masterpiece. recently cleaned and restored, the work's original color is believed to shine as vibrantly as it did in 1512. once the republic of florence, this city is where the renaissance began and flourished for more than 150 years. in florence at almost every turn, you can run smack into the legacy of 15th- and 16th-century masterminds. like never before in the western world, new ideas in science, literature, and visual arts just skyrocketed.
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against serious odds, the period was a gigantic experiment, a workshop, a festival of human achievement. what propelled this new vision of the world out of the middle ages-- a vision no longer mostly of saints and biblical figures and the trials of making it to heaven, but one that featured, also, human beings, people living earthly lives? fortunately, the middle ages were not all dungeons and gloom. in the 1300s, after a recovery from the bubonic plague, europe's agricultural and technical progress accelerated. sea trade was booming, and eventually the spread of wealth on the continent was greater than ever. by the mid-1400s, with the progress of the printing trade, educated middle classes had access to reading and writing. students flocked to italy to study the classics, and the big wide world seemed smaller.
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the church-- the strongest and richest institution in europe-- was under fire. voices uttered the question barely whispered 100 years earlier: should the church have the power to govern people's civil lives, as well as their spiritual lives? by the 15th century, florence was ripe for a cultural rebirth. humanism was on the rise, and the city was rich. it sprang from a revival of the ideals of ancient greece and rome. individual curiosity, the study of the arts, science, math, and philosophy-- they all flourished. the baptistry is the oldest building in florence, breaking ground in the 11th century, and its treasures show us the shift from medieval to a modern view of the world. first, the medieval. walk in and look up at the mosaic ceiling. behold the depiction of the last judgment--
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a chilling panorama started in the 1200s. the figures are symbolic and fairly rigid. there's no quibbling about the theme-- depending on how one stacks up, he or she is waved off to a peaceful heaven or straight down to the howling monsters of hell. now step outside to the baptistry doors, and voila-- the renaissance world awaits. the north doors of lorenzo ghiberti were a revelation, a breakthrough in 3-d perspective. he began the work in 1403 and finished 20 years later. the critic vasari called the doors "absolutely perfect, "seemingly breathed into shape, rather than cast and polished with iron tools."
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it was no surprise, then, that in 1425, ghiberti landed the job of making the east doors, which took another 27 years to finish. michelangelo dubbed them "the gates of paradise," which they are called today. though not yet famous as an architect, filippo brunelleschi won the competition to invent and build a dome to cover the 150-foot octagonal span of the florence cathedral. ♪ ave ♪ maria no one else had any idea how to do this.
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but brunelleschi's aptitude for precise calculation and his rampant imagination held the day. he would build an egg. he figured a way to use 8 arches, raised like ribs, that held a network of smaller ribs and connecting arches, forming an almost vertical pitch. ♪ ave ♪ maria thus, the risk-taking filippo brunelleschi became the first great architect of the italian renaissance. no visitor to florence can miss the mighty landmark that soars 308 feet into the air and tops one of europe's largest cathedrals. daring confidence was contagious in florence's art scene, and yet a visit to the bargello museum
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shows why the unpretentious sculptor donatello was central to the early renaissance. he was amazingly original. if realism was a renaissance battle cry, donatello, or "little donato," was the first great renaissance warrior. his most loved work is the small brondavid built in his older years. it stood in the courtyard of the medici palace, where, a century later, a young michelangelo could gaze upon it day after day. it was a rare prize. nude male statues had been taboo for centuries. with his long ringlets and sun hat, to my eye, this gentle david resembles a 1960s flower child, and yet he is donatello's early renaissance vision of the brave youth who, only moments before, had slain the giant goliath.
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these renaissance headliners motivated each other, dead or alive. they were driven, gifted workhorses and master craftsmen. they learned philosophy and the anatomy of the human form. they went off to rome to study the ruins of antiquity. they could be secretive, moody, and competitive, but mostly they learned from and inspired each other. florence's treasure-packed uffizi gallery features a room of masterpieces by sandro botticelli, who, for many people, is the quintessential renaissance painter. he was one of the first of the period who dared to use ancient mythology,
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playing down its paganism with its innocent-looking maidens. his images stay with you. who could forget the birth of venus, as she appears fully grown, naked and newborn, standing on a clam shell, protected by the winds and her maiden-in-waiting? or the allegory of spring in pastel colors, a romantic vision of classical greece? all things in nature and legend are possible subjects. next to the botticelli room are two paintings by a young leonardo da vinci, the wunderkind himself. here we see his promise in an early painting, the annunciation, made when he was about 20. the adoration of the magi, painted 10 years later, is unfinished but packed with human feeling.
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for pure beauty and grace, look no further than the exquisite frescoes of raffaello sanzio, or raphael. raphael, born in urbino, italy, died at 37 years old. for his relatively short career, raphael's outpouring of work was phenomenal. his magnificent altarpieces and paintings usually include the madonna and child. they sum up a clear purpose in religious art-- to inspire devotion and admiration for pure beauty. the renaissance in florence was made possible, in part, by a grant from... the medici family.
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well, actually, more than one grant. there was cosimo, catherine, lorenzo the magnificent-- you get the idea. they made their fortunes in banking, they invested in the arts, and they all loved nice things. lorenzo's villa says it all. the medici influence over 15th-century florence is inescapable... in paintings that featured family and acquaintances... and in breathtaking gardens and palaces.llas.. they commissioned whatever it took to fill their days with the magnificent...
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the new... and the classical world. cosimo de' medici set the family goals based on the tenets of plato. his grandson lorenzo the magnificent was a brilliant scholar and talented poet. the medici wealth made florence the culturalub of ity-- wgiing rs ptonic idl: the medici wealth made florence the culturalub of ity-- tiius, michanlo anpre t
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chelangelo chiseled out the medici wealth made florence the e bleralub of ity-- to her, unrestrain airio
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it was a spirit of inquiry and a rebirth, a spreading wave of change that, in time, create cturies later, we travelers stand in awe of that rebirth. we go looking for the art, architecture, and vitality of europe's golden age in its timeless places-- the cities of italy and the countryside of france. "the countryside of france." just say it, and you begin to relax, to smile, eavit or daydream about a hunt. well, anticipating the hunt was the case with renaissance royalty and nobility. this is where they headed-- to the verdant, slightly hilly, breezy, and sunlit loire valley, ryurinhe road, they were confronted by a medieval fortress. with royal comrades to impress and money to burn,
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the high rollers bought up or took over the 12th-century fortifications that waited sir into extravagant 15th-century originally, they looked like the chateau sully-sur-loire, one of dozens fse heoile francois i, king of france, was a major renovatorof med. he grew up in this one, the amboise chateau, accustomed to the princely life-- dancing, festivals, and lively hunting parties. then he fell in love with italy. after getting a taste of italy's renaissance spirit, anisrought leonardo da vinci himself and other italian artists to the loire, luring them to enhance the art and architecture of his many chateaux. chambord is by far the largest chateau, with more than 400 rooms in elaborate renaissance style. reminiscent of greek stability and 15th-century luxury,
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the acres of structures were built to last. chenonceau chateau is also part of francois' family domain. visitors can learn about generations of romantic romps and revenge, political betrs, la parties, and the power struggles rampant in this opulent world. ty n wander quietly, breathing in the glorious renaissance setting. the dynamics of progress and the desire to excel were epidemic. eventually, the renaissance spre le ne throughout western europe and england. a 30-minute train ride from london will land you at a favorite retreat of king henry viii. hampton court palace has stood on the north bank of the river thames for more than 500 years, and it's housed famous figures, incling eli mars. cardinal thomas wolsey of york began building the tudor palace in 1514,
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and by the 1520s, he had "gifted" it to an insistent henry viii, but wolsey was indicted for treason anyway. during his time here, henry managed to find time to remodel. he replaced part of the elaborate great hall, and it's said his tudor kitchen could serve 1,000 meals a day. the wolsey room holds some of europe's finest renaissance paintings, and the elaborate mazes in the garden are famous. the renaissance legacy that we can see-- tharanaritture-- lives on magnificently today, evidence of a tornado of creativity that maybe is unmatched in human history. 500 years after the renaissance, we still marvel at the magnificent work
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of artists such as leonardo and michelangelo. whatever inspired europe's renaissance, it was a period of artistic growth that forever changed the western world. so, for more than 200 years, one astounding individual after another brought raredeas ansplendor tthe arts. they created a glorious legacy that we still seek out. could there be another renaissance around the corner? i'm rudy maxa, keeping my eyes wide open. all videos and dvds of smart travelare 24.95 each, plus shipping. call 800-866-7425 for the 3-episode dvd or video on classical europe, renaissance europe, and great getaways. details of all of our travel videos, dvds, and best guide books are on the web at please have a credit card ready and call 800-866-7425
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or visit us on the web. captioning made possible by u.s. department of education captioned by the national captioning institute smart travels is made possible in part by, a travel web site that oertrels a variety of ways to find the trip they're looking for, including flights, hotels, and vacation packages. don't just travel. travel right.
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