bianca giovanni

Fashion show produced by Giovanni Battista Giorgini to promote Italian fashion designers in the Sala Bianca of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy, 1956.

Giorgini was not a designer but is considered the father of the “Made in Italy” brand. He produced the first true Italian fashion shows for American and European buyers beginning in 1951 in Florence.

The 10th annual Italian Fashion Show in the Sala Bianca of the Pitti Palace, Florence, Italy, 1955, photo by G.M. Fadigati. Under the direction of Giovanni Giorgini it brought together all the best Italian designers arising during the post-war period - Sorelle Fontana, Ferragamo, Emilio Pucci, Roberto Capucci, Emilio Schuberth, etc.

Let’s talk for one minute about this triangle Bianca/Cosimo/Contessina

Cosimo was forced to give up on his dreams by his father, and the woman he loved (or more likely, he thinks he loved) was sent away from him - enters the picture Contessina, whom has been chosen for her title, and she gets on his nerves because of the way she tries to engage him in a conversation and talk freely about the fact that he’s unconfrtable in the situation they’re in. He realizes that she’s as loyal to her family as he is to his own, so he sets things straight with her, that once they’re wed she’s going to be loyal to him and only to him. And then he kisses her.

And the kiss is exactly the moment he decides he’s done with her. Because though he will be a banker, on the inside he is an artist, and on the inside he belongs to Bianca (whom he has idealized, quite frankly) and he is harsh and cold towards his own wife from that day on. Contessina represents the chains imposed by his father, and he resents her because he cannot resent his father (and he took it out on her during their first night, after the confrontation with Giovanni about Bianca), and he resents her because he kissed her and he was not supposed to, not like that at least. During the years sometimes the facade cracks, the mask slips ever so slightly and you can see he’d like to reach for her but he holds back, and anyone’s heart would grow cold at being treated the way he treats her so he just supposes that her loyalty is a matter of duty. I saw the trailer for the episodes of next week, and he looks so stunned to see her come to him while he’s imprisoned, to see that she truly cares for him though he has never let himself show any affection towards her. Basically he’s forced himself, and her too, into 20 years of loneliness because he was scared that if he gave in to the temptation of being emotionally close to his wife he would lose the idealistic boy he was trying to save from his father’s plans for his future. And while he tortured them both she loved him all the same.

I have some thoughts about the latest episode of Medici: Masters of Florence. Or more specifically, Cosimo’s reaction to Contessina negotiating his sentence from death to exile. I’ve had a lot of emotions about this, and about the way people have reacted to it, so we’ll see if I can make this into a valid point, but I’m gonna try:

I firmly believe that for some people, exile is worse than death. Maybe not these days. In modern times, people move all the time. It’s not a big deal. But it wasn’t like that once. When Cosimo was alive, one’s city was more than a home. Especially for Cosimo. Florence means the world to him. He grew up there, he loves it, he loves the people, he loves the dome (:P), and his home and his bank are there. His whole life purpose is there. And this purpose is what Giovanni put in his head. We clearly see in the flashbacks how Giovanni is making his son believe that it is his duty, and his alone, to take care of the Medici bank, that it rests solely on Cosimo’s shoulders whether the family succeeds. Every single time Cosimo tried to do something of his own (pursue art, be with Bianca, befriend Albizzi for his own reasons), Giovanni shot it down time and time and time again. So eventually, I think, Cosimo gave into the whole “I’m going to be a banker, this is my purpose” mind-set, because it was the only road his parents ever set him on. So when he hears he has to leave his home, everything he’s worked for his entire life, of course he thinks it’s worse than death. For Giovanni, it would be worse than death. And now, because Cosimo has all the responsibilities, he also has the same mindset. He thinks that if he is alive, he needs to take care of Florence. He feels responsible for the place, for the bank, for the dome. He feels helpless to have to leave. 

And we all know, based on the flashbacks, and present day scenes, too, that Cosimo doesn’t take well to being told what to do. It obviously started with Giovanni driving Bianca away. He told Cosimo that there’s no way he can be anything other than a banker, that it doesn’t matter what he wants. And clearly that left Cosimo damaged in more ways than one. It’s partly why he can’t communicate with Contessina, and that’s certainly why, I believe, he was so shocked by Contessina making the decision for him. 

(Sidenote: I know why she did it, I would have done the same. She loves Cosimo and she wanted him to survive. I completely understand that. This rant is to explain Cosimo’s behavior, not to criticize hers.)

He had been ready to die, and I think exile is something he never even considered. So when Contessina comes in and tells him “this is what you’re going to do, it has been decided”, I am sure it sparked up some unpleasant memories from his past.

I also sort of see a bit of control-freakness in Cosimo, which, again, is understandable considering how he was brought up, and his attentive personality on its own, too. He had made all the plans for what Contessina and the rest of the family ought to do once he was dead. He was confident that the Medici family would survive. He hadn’t planned exile, he has no idea what the outcome will be. And this way, he sees that the Albizzi win, and there’s nothing he can do about it. 

I think the main thing that Giovanni had always shoved on Cosimo was that legacy, the Medici family, that the bigger picture was more important than Cosimo and his own feelings. And that’s what he thinks, and says, himself, to Contessina. That the Medici can survive, that he alone doesn’t matter. So the way she took control and chose exile because she didn’t want to lose him strikes him as such a selfish act that he can’t cope with it. He would never have made the same choice (at least not in terms of himself), because he was never raised to believe he, as an individual, mattered.

I mean, it’s as clear as anything, how damaged Cosimo is. His parents messed him up real good, and losing Bianca and his artistic passion only added to that. It made him close off on people, especially Contessina, because, if he opens up to her and loves her, then he’s just doing what he had been required to do, by Giovanni, instead of what he originally wanted. I don’t think a proper trust really ever formed between these two, and even though there are some feelings there, I think Cosimo doesn’t really know how to show them. Everything he’s been through, everything he’s been made to believe have made him very bad at communicating. Even at the end of episode 3, he has a very hard time telling Contessina he values her (same with saying sorry to his mother in the same episode). He has learned how to be cold and closed-off, because he believes it’s better for his family, for Florence. 

And in a way, him leaving Contessina behind is a calculated move. He trusts her to take care of the affairs in Florence. He trusts her. Even if he doesn’t say that. That is, again, due to his lack of communicative skills.

So, in total: I get that he reacted badly. I get that he was being unfair. But it was not like he was being intentionally malicious towards Contessina. It’s not like he’s a bad person. He’s a very good person, and I think we’ve seen proof of that countless times. He’s just damaged, and it’s a shame that it means he sometimes neglects his wife. But I truly hope that no one actually writes him off as a horrible person because of this. He sees the world differently from us, from Contessina, from basically everyone in the series. And I think that is what makes him such a well-rounded, amazing character. 


HISTORY MEME | FASCINATING WOMEN [9/10} → Caterina Sforza, Countess of Forli  (early 1463 – 28 May 1509)

In 1462, the Duke of Milan, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, fathered an illegitimate child. The baby’s mother was the wife of a friend and follower of the duke. This baby girl would grow up to break many other rules in the course of her eventful life. As a duke’s daughter in Renaissance Italy, Caterina was offered an excellent education. In her view, however, this education was not the special privilege it would have been for other girls. From the beginning, Caterina was bored by literature, philosophy, Latin, history and the other subjects her tutors tried to teach her. She much preferred dancing, horseback riding, hunting, and other vigorous activities. Caterina learned more from observing people and events than from reading books. Italian politics were in a perpetual state of turmoil. There was no king who ruled all of Italy, as there were kings in Spain, France, and England. Instead, almost every city, large or small, had its own duke, count, or lord; and each city was trying to gain territory, economic advantages, or protection from its neighbors. From Rome, the pope also played a major role in politics, because he ruled many city-states as well as the Catholic Church. Caterina watched the complex and often violent political moves that made Milan one of Italy’s great powers along with Florence, Venice, the Kingdom of Naples, and the states owned by the pope. Young Caterina was ambitious, active, and pleasure-loving. She intended to achieve both fame and fortune–right away, if possible.

From 1477 to 1484, Caterina and Girolamo spent most of their time in Rome, where Caterina was much admired for her blond beauty. During these years, she also bore four children: Bianca, Ottaviano, Cesare, and Giovanni Livio. Caterina and her husband prospered because of their family ties. The pope gave the young couple title to the cities of Forlì and Imola, located northeast of Rome beyond the mountains that run up the spine of Italy. These cities had once belonged to other families, of course. But this fact posed little problem for the Riarios, whose wealth and security seemed assured.

In 1495, as Giacomo Feo, her second husband and herself rode through the streets of Forlì, assassins stabbed Giacomo to death. Caterina was personally devastated, but instead of collapsing in grief, she took swift action. She vented her fury on the killers and their families, executing or torturing many and imprisoning more. Then, to stave off her sorrow, she turned to work. She enriched her cities with building projects, creating beautiful gardens and public works. Pope Innocent had died and been replaced in 1492 by Rodrigo Borgia, who took the name Alexander the Sixth. The new pope’s son Cesare set out to increase his family’s power by brutally seizing control of central Italy, one small city-state at a time. Cesare was a bad fellow, even by the standards of the time. He poisoned his sister’s husband so that he could make a more profitable match for her. On another occasion, he hosted a lavish dinner for a group of his captains whom he suspected of disloyalty, then locked the doors and had them all strangled. With the pope’s power and money behind him, Cesare now took aim at Forlì and Imola.

Once before when she had been in danger, Caterina had said, “If I have to die, I want to die like a man!” Now, she seemed likely to do just that. A poet/spy that she employed warned her that Cesare had 15,000 troops and 17 cannons. Still Caterina refused to flee and give up her cities. She announced her determination to withstand Cesare Borgia’s siege. Annoyed at being defied by a woman, Cesare offered 10,000 ducats for Caterina, dead or alive. Caterina fought as she had always fought “like a tiger.” She put on armor herself and encouraged her men from the city walls. Still, the superior Borgia forces advanced, first to the city, then to its fortress. Caterina and her troops made their last stand in the fortress’s great tower. Finally, the inevitable happened, and the Borgia large army captured the tower. Luckily for Caterina, she was taken prisoner not by one of Cesare’s men but by a French captain who admired her beauty and courage. In the end, this French connection saved her life, because the French code of chivalry said that women could not be considered prisoners of war. Still, Caterina suffered greatly before the Frenchman persuaded the pope to release her. While she was a prisoner, Cesare Borgia brutally raped her and then locked her in a filthy cell in Castel Sant Angelo, the same Roman fortress she had once captured. To gain her freedom, Caterina was forced at last to give up her claims to Forlì and Imola.

Though she tried, Caterina never regained control of her cities. She did have one great pleasure, however. Her young son by Giovanni de’ Medici proved to be a child after her own heart, fascinated by horses, swordplay, and military activities. She devoted her last years to raising and training him. Caterina died in 1509, just a little too soon to see her favorite son, known as Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, become a brilliant soldier and a national hero. It would have pleased her enormously to know that Giovanni’s son, her grandson, became Cosimo the First, Grand Duke of Tuscany.