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Bologna, my favorite city in the world!

Gavin -- I have held back from talking too much about medieval Europe in my blog, although you have probably seen some mentions here and there.

Aside from the "dark" that both the wars and the plagues painted into that period in history, I have been fascinated by the creative thrust as demonstrated in the arts and the guilds as well as the role of family in people's daily lives.

We've moved away from a lot of that as we've expanded our scope and reach. I would not have been able to converse with you back then... heavens even by the mere fact that I'm a woman. Never mind the geographic distance.

Richie -- Pillars of the Earth was by far one of my favorite fiction books of all times. I managed to squeeze a short paragraph about that book (and the sequel Follett is planning) in an earlier post, Why Design Matters [http://conversationagent.typepad.com/conversation_agent/2006/10/why_design_matt.html ]

Your thoughts on art are so valuable. If there is one thing that my degree in Liberal Arts taught me is that the most enduring works over time are not the most popular at first: they're often the ones people could identify with more deeply.

Thank you both, you've added such powerful thoughts to the conversation. Let there be a lesson in there for me.

For anybody interested in the construction of cathedrals, I can highly recommend the novel "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet.

It delves into the social, economic and political effects of cathedralas on the communities around them.

On the subject of being remarkable, I guess it's important to remember that perfection does not guarantee remarkability. Indeed some of the greatest works of art are admired as much for their flaws as for the perceived perfection.

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