Urbino students train to help preserve Italy’s artistic memories.
URBINO, Italy – Sitting on a short stool in a small, crowded laboratory inside the 15th century Ducal Palace, Daniela Pesca clasps a paintbrush firmly in her hand as she makes small, delicate strokes on the face of a painted, wooden angel.
Nestled in the heart of Raffaello’s hometown, the lab is where Pesca, an art restoration student at the University of Urbino, spends eight to nine hours a day working to restore priceless pieces of art from many different masters in her quest to earn a degree in a profession with an uncertain financial future.
“Passion,” said Pesca. “Only passion, and a bit of madness.”
With great artists such as Raffaello, Michelangelo, and Leonardo, Italy is often considered the center of the world, a title Italians consider central to their culture. The works by those great names have lasted through centuries, but they needed help withstanding the blemishes of time.
The University of Urbino has taught generations of Italians to provide that help. Students like Pesca spend five years studying how to bring deteriorated and damaged art back to life.
Michele Papi, head of the program and U of Urbino alum, instructs his students in the same rooms that he received his own education. He teaches three types of restoration: canvas paintings, painted wood, and contemporary art.
According to Papi, preserving paintings and other pieces of art is very important because they “are the historical memory of our country.”