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Hello everybody, My name is Maura Baldoni
I have a degree in English and French language and Literature and for my PhD I specialised in Italian as a second language. I also studied extensively to become a fully licensed Tour Guide in Umbria.
I was, in fact, born in Umbria, to be more precise in Foligno, which is close to Assisi. As it sits in the very centre of Italy, Foligno is known throughout the country as “lu centru de lu munnu”, which is local dialect for “the centre of the world”. Foligno might not actually be the centre of the world but it is certainly central to some of the most beautiful countryside that you will ever see and Umbria holds some of the most incredible pieces of artwork in the world.
One of my greatest pleasures in life is to share the beauty and the significance of stunning works of art, just one example being Giotto’s frescoes in the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi.
Over seven hundred years ago, when Giotto took on the gargantuan task of painting this huge church, he was the first person to show religious scenes set in a completely realistic background of hills, nature, rocks, trees, animals, towns, and recognizable landscapes.
In fact, at this moment he changed the direction of art.
Recently I had the great good fortune of sharing this work with George Lucas who saw it as an early example of expert cinematography; I had to agree!
My passion for art is such a fundamental part of me that, at this point I should tell you what I have named my two teenage sons.
Would you like to take a moment to guess? Well done! You were right! Leonardo and Michelangelo! What else?
At the end of a working day I always feel a sense of gratitude and pride for the experiences which I have been able to share with my guests. These might include a day of walking the cobbled streets of a magnificent hilltown such as Spello, or the feeling of being almost overwhelmed by the gleaming mass of mosaics, the stained glass windows and the intricate sculptural facade of Orvieto’s Cathedral.
We might have savoured together a glass of Sagrantino in Montefalco while admiring the breathtaking view of the various shades of green of the Umbrian Valley, “the green heart of Italy”. The deep green of the oak trees, the silver green of the olive groves and the emerald green of the grapevines never fail to stun me with their simple beauty.
Sensing the deep spirituality of a tiny, intimate church in the sandal-steps of Saint Francis of Assisi and feeling his powerful message of love and non-materialism through a simple lifestyle is a humbling reminder of the relevance of his message still today.
And to be captured, almost enraptured by the sensual beauty of a Renaissance Madonna, whilst imagining that the artist himself must have fallen partly in love with her face while painting the delicate lacy veil, her golden hair, such deep blue eyes and luscious red lips, is difficult to describe in mere words.
I look forward to enjoying moments of such beauty and such simplicity with you. Experiences which need never be lost and will always give you the sense of an invisible link back here to my Umbria. And that's something that can last forever.
I'm looking forward to sharing it with you.
Until then, the warmest of regards from the loveliest of regions,