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THOMAS JEFFERSON

AN ITALIAN AFFAIR

Jefferson’s notes on how to design a pasta machine_

Synopsis

Thomas Jefferson's profound admiration for Italy and its culture deeply influenced both his public and private life. "Thomas Jefferson: An Italian Affair”, explores the multiple facets of Jefferson's passion for Italy, from his early classical studies at the College of William and Mary to his extensive correspondence with friends, politicians, and intellectuals.

Based on a decade-long exploration and research by Maria Christina Loi, the documentary delves into how Italian art, music, literature, politics, and philosophy shaped Jefferson's worldview and works. His architectural projects, legislative texts, and the vast libraries he assembled for himself and the University of Virginia reflect numerous and profound references to Italy.

Jefferson's love for Italy extended beyond culture to its natural beauty, climate, and agriculture. Although his visit to Italy was brief and limited to a few northern regions, he studied vineyards, rice fields, and production methods and machinery.

Through a rich tapestry of locations, people, public documents, and private letters, this documentary reveals how Jefferson, the architect, was significantly influenced by ancient and contemporary Italian architecture, shaping the young American nation.

 

Treatment

"Thomas Jefferson: An Italian Affair" is a captivating documentary that sheds light on a lesser-known aspect of Thomas Jefferson's life: his transformative journey to Italy in 1787. Based on Maria Cristina Loi's groundbreaking research, the film delves into Jefferson's Italian sojourn, which diverged from the conventional Grand Tour destinations of his time.

The documentary begins with Jefferson's initial foray into Italy while residing in Paris, a period during which his architectural perspectives underwent a profound evolution. Loi illuminates the architectural insights Jefferson gleaned in Italy, which later influenced iconic American structures such as the US Capitol and the University of Virginia.

Through the lens of Jefferson's personal notes, meticulously chronicled during his Italian sojourn, the film offers a unique glimpse into his direct impressions, reflections, and observations. Jefferson's journey, spanning from April 14 to May 1, 1787, was unconventional in its itinerary, eschewing Rome and Naples for the less-traveled paths of Turin, Milan, and Genoa.

Accompanied by director Eduardo Montes-Bradley, Loi retraces Jefferson's footsteps, providing a vivid narrative of his experiences. From Turin's architectural marvels to Milan's economic and cultural richness, the film vividly portrays Jefferson's deep fascination with Italy.

Of particular note is Jefferson's interest in economic aspects, evident in his study of regions renowned for wine, rice, and cheese production. His observations on architecture, including the Milan Cathedral, offer profound insights into his intellectual curiosity and aesthetic sensibilities.

In Genoa, Jefferson's interactions with local artisans, notably Antonio Capellano, highlight his keen interest in Italian craftsmanship. His connections with individuals like Filippo Mazzei underscore his clandestine movements, indicating his discreet presence in Italy, often mingling with Freemasons, a society of which he was a member.

"Thomas Jefferson: An Italian Affair" is not just a historical account but a journey into the mind of a visionary leader. Through Loi's meticulous research and Montes-Bradley's cinematic narrative, the film brings to life a pivotal chapter in Jefferson's life, revealing the profound impact of his Italian sojourn on his intellectual and architectural pursuits.

 

Key Themes: Art, Music, Nature, People

 

Key Points:

 

1. Jefferson's lifelong admiration for Italy

2. Influence of Italian culture on Jefferson's studies and works

3. Jefferson's architectural projects and their Italian inspirations

4. Exploration of Jefferson's brief visit to northern Italy

5. The impact of Italian nature and agriculture on Jefferson

 

Aim: To tell the story of Jefferson's enduring love for Italy through his architectural legacy and the myriad connections he forged between American and Italian cultures.

 

Academic Support: University of Virginia, Instituto Politecnico di Milano, Library of Congress

Documentary Film Fund (501(c)3,

1165 Owensville Road, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22901

 

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