Rebuilding The Renaissance: Listen To Episode 2 Of Republic Of Toma

Toma Clark Haines – host of The Republic of Toma podcast presented by ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine – sits down with Dr. Rocky Ruggero to discuss how history repeats itself. While other girls might have binge-watched all 12 seasons of RHONY during quarantine, Toma binged on Rocky’s popular art history podcast “Rebuilding the Renaissance” learning why 1348 was a year that changed the world.

The Renaissance was born out of the plague, and with it came new arts, sciences and ideas, but also a new more egalitarian way of living. Toma proposes that hindsight is 2020. She believes this pandemic presents opportunities for growth and to create a new Renaissance, as well as a new way of living based upon connection, collaboration and communication. Rocky adds, “Post Tenebras Lux”, After Darkness Comes The Light.

Did the coronavirus hit a global reset button, giving us an opportunity to emerge stronger as a society than before? Are we living a paradigm shift?

Toma and Rocky detour into a discussion on food, wine, travel in Italy and la dolce vita before delving into the more meaty topic of global transformation and change. Rocky makes history bite-sized as he and Toma compare the plague to the pandemic, and the transition from the Middle Ages into Modernity with the present day. Rocky cautions that during the original Renaissance, they didn’t know they were living in the Renaissance. This was a term applied posthumously, as with change comes pain. There is no better metaphor for transformation than the process by which the caterpillar crawls inside the cocoon and emerges a butterfly. And while change may be painful, the butterfly doesn’t fit back inside its cocoon once it emerges.

The butterfly must fly.

In a conversation filled with laughter, tongue-twisting words in Italian and philosophical fodder, Rocky and Toma discuss history like you’ve never heard it discussed before. Dr. Rocky Ruggiero has been a professor of art and architectural history since 1999. He received his BA from the College of the Holy Cross and a Master of Arts degree from Syracuse University, where he was awarded a prestigious Florence Fellowship in 1996. He furthered his art historical studies at the University of Exeter, UK, where he received a Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Culture. In addition to lecturing for various American universities in Florence, Italy, including Syracuse, Kent State, Vanderbilt, and Boston College, Dr. Ruggiero has also starred in various TV documentaries concerning the Italian Renaissance. He has appeared as an expert witness for NBC News, as well as in the History Channel’s “Engineering an Empire: Da Vinci’s World” and “Museum Secrets: the Uffizi Gallery”, and the more recent NatGeo/NOVA PBS program on Brunelleschi’s dome entitled “Great Cathedral Mystery.” After living in Florence, Italy for 20 years, Dr. Ruggiero now divides his time between the US and Italy. In the US, he offers specialized lectures, educational webinars, and cultural events throughout the country as a paid speaker on Italian art and architectural history. In Italy, Dr. Ruggiero offers private excursions and week-long travel programs throughout the country. For his online courses, video lectures, documentaries, blogs and podcasts visit –

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