About Stefania Centrone
My name is Stefania Centrone. I was born in Bari on August 5, 1975 and I grew up in a town on the Adriatic coast, Molfetta. The town was originally an island, has a beautiful Romanesque cathedral and has generated some famous people including the conductor Riccardo Muti (1941), the historian, journalist, university professor Gaetano Salvemini (1873-1957), for my foreign readers, who eventually do not know him, anti-fascist and meridionalist, the socialist senator Beniamino Finocchiaro (1923-2003), who was the brother of my school teacher Marta Andriani. My parents are two nice hippies. They belong to the generation that was twenty in 1968 and thirty in 1977 ... well, yes, may be, you can already imagine, those whose symbol was the musical Hair and were always talking about Woodstock.
I studied philosophy at the University of Florence.
Why do we chose one place rather than another as a place to be?
Well ... there are many possible rationalisations, and it is a fact that, over time, everyone reconstructs the history of his or her own choices in a different way or comes to see other aspects or consider those choices from other perspectives. Thus, each description of choices made long ago is, in a sense, a construction or reconstruction of that reality.
I just write here, what I have been thinking about my choice of Florence as a place to be for the past 25 years.
Florence is a magical place. It is the city where Dante Alighieri (c. 1265-14 September --1321) was born, where the Italian Renaissance Humanist and architect Leon Battista Alberti (14 February 1404- 25 Aprile 1472), the founder of the Renaissance Architecture, Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-15 April 1446) and the greatest Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance, Michelangelo Buonarroti (6 march 1475-18 February 1564) -- to mention just those, who, come to my mind first --- lived, for a while, at the same time.
It is the city that has given birth to Niccolò Machiavelli (3 May 1469-21 June 1527).
... Well ... these seems to me to be reasons enough ...
The Viale dei Colli (Hill Road) is a 6 km panoramic road in Florence that makes up a large part of my almost daily 16-17 km long walk since 25 years (I usually do it forward and backward). The Hill Road extends from the Porta Romana to the Ponte San Niccolo' and was planned and realised during the short period when Florence was the capital of Italy (1865-1871).
The architect deliberately designed “painterly” effects, including the ramp to the San Miniato al Monte church and the Cimitero delle Porte Sante. The Piazzale Michelangelo is designed as the highlight of the scenic road.
As Machiavelli puts it, in his Letter XI to Francesco Vettori (10 December 1513):
"On the coming of evening, I return to my house and enter my study; and at the door I take off the day's clothing, covered with mud and dust, and put on garments regal and
courtly; and reclothed appropriately, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them with affection, I feed on that food which only is mine and which I was born for, where I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their kindness answer me; and for four hours of time I do not feel boredom, I forget every trouble, I do not dread poverty, I am not frightened by death; entirely I give myself over to them."
Thus, on the coming of afternoon, I walk on the Hill Road occasionally listening to the Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg von Theodore Fontane, Maria Stuart von Friedrich Schiller, sometimes, to the Geschichte der Natur von Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, sometimes even to the Critique of Pure Reason of Immanuel Kant (I do not advertise anything hear, but I honestly believe that it is an enormous merit of the Audible and Flying Glas publishers to have made this possible!).
... What I listen to mostly depends on the topic I'm currently working on ...
Here are some pictures taken walking along the Hill Road.
From 2000 till 2004 I did my PhD at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.
I remained there as a post-doc student till 2008.
The Scuola Normale Superiore is a university institution of higher education based in Pisa. It was founded in 1810 with a decree by Napoleon as a branch of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris.
Pisa, like Florence, is first of all a place of the soul.
After all, I spent 8 years of my life travelling between Pisa and Florence.
Above all, Pisa represents for me my encounter with the history of philosophy.
When I arrived in Pisa in 2000 there were three outstanding scholars in the Classe di Lettere of the Scuola Normale.
The first was my professor Ettore Casari (1933 – 2019).
Ettore Casari was originally a classical philologist, who then studied mathematics and logic in Münster with the German mathematicians and logicians
Hans Hermes (1912 – 2003) and Gisbert Hasenjäger (1919 – 2006).
Though he was completely and utterly a professor of mathematical logic, he was such à la Leibinz, as I use to say. He had an immense culture and knew that many technical and theoretical problems have
originated long ago and that it is not possible to fully understand them if not by considering them within the context in which they originated.
A very beautiful description of Casari as an intellectual and political person in the Italian cultural panorama has been recently published by his pupil and friend, the Italian mathematician and logician Gabriele Lolli in his paper
Ettore Casari e la rinascita della logica in Italia
(Acta Academiae Scientiarum Taurinensis vol. 154).
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Lolli kindly gave me permission to make his paper accessible on this blog.
In Pisa I met the Italian historian of philosophy Claudio Cesa (1928 -2014).
The owl of Minerva, whose picture you see on this blog, is a present of him.
The owl (Athene noctua) traditionally accompanies Athena or Minerva and is a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, perspicacity and erudition throughout the Western world.
Claudio Cesa had studied at the University of Pisa and at the Scuola Normale Superiore with Luigi Scaravelli (1894-1957) obtaining a degree in philosophy and the diploma from the Scuola Normale in 1950. He had taught for a few years in high schools, then moved on to the University of Siena, then to the University of Florence, and finally to the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. He was a keen interpreter of German Idealism (Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Feuerbach), and had revised the Italian translation of Hegel's The Science of Logic (1812-1816) by the Italian philosopher Arturo Moni (1867-1936), which is still the reference text for the Italian studies on the subject.
Finally, the Italian historian of philosophy, Francesco Del Punta (1941 - 2013),
was teaching in Pisa during the years I was there.
Del Punta came from the School of Milan.
He was a pupil of Mario dal Pra (1914-1992),
under whose supervision he graduated with a thesis in medieval philosophy.
He continued his studies and research through stays at foreign universities, such as the University of Warsaw, Oxford and New York.
In 1975 he became associate professor for medieval philosophy at the University of Pisa, a position he held until 1993, when he was called to teach at the Scuola Normale Superiore.
His fields of research were, in particular, Scholasticism
and the Aristotelian philosophical tradition through Late Antiquity up to the Middle Ages.
It is in particular from Francesco del Punta that I learned to appreciate the work of Thomas von Aquin, especially his esssentialism, his commentary on Aristotle's metaphysics, as well as the work of the Spanisch Jesuit priest, philosopher and theologian Francisco Suarez (1548-1617).