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Review: Tweeting Da Vinci by Ann C. Pizzorusso

tweeting da vinci Imagine if Da Vinci were alive today – would he tweet his ideas and discoveries? Writer and veteran geologist Ann C. Pizzorusso explores Italy with Da Vinci, an accomplished geologist and polymath as her guide, as if he were here today as a Bill Gates/Stephen Hawking figure, using all current technology, including Twitter, to share his mind with the world.

But this is no dry book about rocks. This is a book about finding, among other amazing discoveries, the real Underworld, a stairway to Heaven and the fountain of youth. Pizzorusso looks at how geology profoundly affects the civilization that lives in it.

A beautifully put together book with a Da Vinci-like font, decent cover and amazing illustrated foldout map inlays, the book is filled with photos of Italy, we first learn about Italy’s tectonic plates and violent bubbling volcanos: this is a world of radioactive pools, limestone gorges and moving mountains that have molded the spirits of the people who lived there over the ages, in particular, the Etruscans, whose bridge-building had to become legendary to deal with the landscape, as did their belief system, filled with lightning, strange lights reported to be the gods or even UFOs, developing a sacred cosmology that left artifacts behind for modern-day scientists to argue over.

Pizzorusso’s work finds magic in scientific fact, proving the mystic to exist in history and science set in Italy’s breathtaking scenery.Maps that appear like something from Tolkien turn out to be true maps from times when prophets and ritual ruled every move of a highly superstitious culture constantly aware that their homeland was capable of flood, eruption or quake at any moment.

Not only does Pizzorusso study custom, but she also brings history alive, with wonderful factoids as in the chapter on precious gems (which seems to be one of Pizzorusso’s pet subjects), for example, how diamonds used to be depicted as black in portraits due to the way they were cut, and how pearls are created in nature, with literary references throughout from the likes of Dante and Dickens. The charts and diagrams from periods in time when thought was developing in all kinds of areas, and when science and religion went hand in hand, makes for intriguing reading, such as star diagrams, drawings of angels and Da Vinci’s drawings of hydraulic devices are just some of the really brilliant information at your fingertips in this book.Then, just when you think it couldn’t get any more diverse, we learn about painting and Da Vinci’s techniques in the fifteenth century, with beautiful images to illustrate the details discussed. Anyone who reads this book is going to come away wiser in one way or another.

I don’t really understand the title of this book, because Tweeting is so inane compared to what Pizzorusso has accomplished here, and there is no tweeting involved. But the sentiment of the sharing of knowledge is there, and that makes this book a precious study in every way.

I am woefully regretful that history and geology were not taught to me at school like this, because Pizzorusso knows exactly how to awaken a passion for her subjects in the reader. Tweeting Da Vinci is one of the best finds of 2014 of any genre, and I shall be thoroughly recommending it to all that listen: This won’t be difficult given the amount of charming tidbits I have for after-dinner conversation. Oh, how interesting this book is! I want to go to Italy today and see it all for myself, right away! This is a very exciting and important work. Highly recommended.

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