CiaoThere are more World Heritage Sites UNESCO in Italy than anywhere else in the world! From the archaeological site of Pompei in Campania to rock drawings from the pre-historic Paleolithic period, the legacy and contributions of this small country are shared by the world. From art and architecture, fashion and culinary arts, science and medicine, (and don't forget the race cars!), Italy's contributions to the world-at-large are stunning!

Quattrocento (kwa-tro-CHEN-to) is Italian for 400, and is used to indicate the 1400s-the period of the Renaissance. The Renaissance (1300s-1600) was a movement across western Europe that embraced a new appreciation for the art and literature of ancient Rome and Greece. It produced some of the greatest art in the history of the world-a "rebirth." Italy was the center of the Renaissance.

Renaissance painters were interested in working in a naturalistic style. In order to do this, a technique called "perspective" was needed, to help the artist represent the world in a more realistic way. Perspective is a system for representing three-dimensional space on a flat surface. It is based on the optical illusion that parallel lines appear to meet in the distance.

Architect/writer Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) invented a device to aid in this technique. He built a wood frame, then stretched transparent material over it, which he divided into squares with thread. He looked through this "window" at the subject he was going to draw. Onto a piece of paper or canvas with a corresponding grid penciled in, he sketched his subject as it appeared in each little square, thus accurately copying it to scale.

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