Friday, December 25, 2015
Ti Voglio Bene
Dear Art Lover,
The Italians have two ways (at least) to say, “I love you.” The one with which most foreigners might be familiar is, “Ti amo.” Literally, “You, I love.” This phrase is usually reserved for romantic or passionate love. The other way to say “I love you” is, “Ti voglio bene.” Literally, “You, I want well.” You will hear this spoken between friends and family.
In my salt and pepper experiences in amore, I must say that passion fades. Not always, and it may change without disappearing, but it seems only a relatively lucky few figure out how to keep the flames from burning out. Another observation is that passionate or romantic love is often about the lover more than the beloved. It can be a bit selfish in its urgency. However, “I want you well” is actually a generous desire. Is that not more about the beloved; perhaps even without much thought to the needs of the one who expresses the love? This form of love strikes me as true, dependable, and longer lasting.
I tend to think that English is a more precise language. We have so many similar words with slightly different meanings. We can be quite specific in what we communicate. However, I think the Italian way of distinguishing the kind of love is actually helpful. Imagine the chaos of miscommunication: the stuff of movies, or of drama queens! [By the way, Italians also have two words for “gift.” Il regalo is generally used for presents one gives on occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, job-related events, etc. Il dono is the kind of gift one gives from the heart. It has more emotional meaning. This could mean a donation to a charity, a gift of an organ to a loved one in surgery, or even a simple stone given “just because.” Charming, isn’t it?]
Perhaps you will remember the post I made on 15 December, in which I presented a marvelous painting by Niccolò Barabino (1831–1891). Her home is in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy.
There is another painting that I believe is by the same author. I had to ask one of the docents how to get up on the next floor to see it. By elevator only, she said. When I arrived, the whole floor seemed closed off. However, I had only come to see more of what was visible on the floor beneath me. I really love this painter’s use of dark and light to emphasize his subject. And perhaps you will recognize one of these saints. Hmmm? Allora, Merry Christmas.
Ti voglio bene,
~ Kelly Borsheim, artist