The Italian Secret: Look Up

Italian Art Isn’t limited to the Walls

I don’t consider myself an art connoisseur. I can’t rhyme off any of Rembrandt’s or Picasso’s works and when you say Michelangelo the first thing I think of is the ninja turtle, not the artist.

Still, when something is beautiful, I mean really, really beautiful, I feel it. I get the goosebumps. I drink it in with my eyes and then I feel as full as I do when I’ve eaten a great meal or read a great piece of writing. I’m always blown away by passion- in any form.

Palazzo del Te

In the incredible Palazzo Te in Mantua, Lombardia

It makes Italy a good place for me. From the buildings you pass on the street to the restored gems tucked behind ropes and alarms, it is a country that is living in its art. And as you walk among the incredible architecturally stunning buildings  you have no choice but to (at least) look twice.

Mantua and Sabbioneta| Italian Art

Over the last few days in Mantua and  Sabionetta I’ve seen it. felt it.

Italian Art

The ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi at Ducale Palace in Mantua

You pass frescoes on banks as you run out for simple errands. And in the museums there are paintings and sculptures so detailed you can’t help but admire the artist, even if only for the amount of time it must’ve taken them to do it.

Italian Art

The ceiling of “Chamber of the Giants” in Palazzo Te (Mantua, Lombardy)

But there’s something else I’ve learned about Italian Art. While the artists of old enjoyed their walls, they loved their ceilings. I find myself constantly in awe of the detail and magnificence of them. Churches and palaces hold the best ones, but even simple places hold incredible treasures…if you remember to look up.

Italian Art

A ceiling in the Duke’s summer palace in Sabbioneta, Italy

It makes perfect sense in these rooms where people of old likely laid in bed, or on lounges and had time to drink in the Italian art.

Italian Art

Cedar from Lebanon was used to create this ornate ceiling in the palace of Vespiano in Sabbioneta. The much loved Duke took his last breaths underneath it.

But in this day and age when our attention spans are short and our time for indulgence even shorter, I’m constantly reminded here that walking out of a room without looking up, is to miss a chance to live the moment to its fullest.

Italian Art

A chamber in the Ducale Palace in Mantua, Lombardy


And that in turn has me thinking about what else we’re missing. Heads down, staring at our phones or computer screens, choosing to share but not necessarily to be present… I’m guilty. These last few days have reminded me to put it down and take it in. The moments don’t wait. It is up to us to stop and look up or risk missing them entirely.

Italian Art

The ceiling in the “chamber of the winds” at Palazzo Te



Disclosure: My trip to Italy is a part of the  #Blog Ville campaign, managed by iambassador in partnership with the Emilia-Romagna tourism board and the Regione Lombardia.
As always, Globetrotting Mama maintains full editorial control of any and all content published on this site.









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{ 7 comments… add one }

Yashy Murphy September 7, 2014, 7:20 PM

I totally agree.. I’m constantly reminding myself to look up, and down! I’ve watched many walk by busy streets and not notice murals and stunning stonework-shame. Of course I only notice these when I travel and not when I’m home… Pot.Kettle.what? Your travel pictures reminds me that I haven’t been to Italy since I was is middle school!


Heather September 9, 2014, 5:06 PM

Seems like a good enough reason to get back Yashy! ;) Yah. I’m guilty too! It’s just one of many things I need to remember.


Olivia September 7, 2014, 8:43 PM

Ahh, your observation about looking up more totally reminds me of how in NYC, a group called “Improv Everywhere” did an impromptu in high-up store windows to encourage people to look up more:

But then again, people didn’t have gorgeous Italian paintings to look at, sooo….


Heather September 9, 2014, 5:04 PM

THAT IS AWESOME. Thanks so much for sharing it Olivia. True that Italian paintings help, but boy do we all need to pay more attention, huh? wow.


Peady September 16, 2014, 9:31 AM

I want to visit Italy! Your photos have been so fun to see, not just here on your blog, but also via Twitter and IG.

Your trip looks amazing!

Thank you for sharing your adventures!


Heather September 16, 2014, 2:26 PM

So glad you’ve liked them Peady! It’s one of the things I love most about social media – being able to share breathtaking experiences as they happen. Having all of you along for the moments really does enhance the experience.


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