Il Palazzo Guglielmi sits on Isola Maggiore in Lago Trasimeno in the Northern reaches of Umbria in Central Italy. This 180 room structure was constructed in 1328 as a Franciscan monastery to honor Saint Francis of Assisi’s stay during the Lent of 1211 on the then uninhabited island. In the mid-1800’s, after serving over 500 hundred years as a space of contemplation and prayer, the property was purchased by the wealthy and influential Senator Guglielmi who created a family palazzo worthy of his rank and station. In the 1960’s, in response to Italy’s shifting financial and social circumstances, the remaining Guglielmi family members relocated and vacated the palazzo. For nearly 40 years now, this once grand edifice has sat essentially abandoned and decaying.
Photographing inside the Palazzo Guglielmi, I was profoundly moved by its poignant beauty. I found countless quiescent details and fragments of so many years and lives. Moving from room to room was like entering into one heartrending yet serene dream after another. The resulting photographs are a meditation on the negotiation of light and shadow, of memory and loss, and of the simultaneous existence of the past and present.
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The Center of the Universe Published July 15, 2009
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