Monday, March 24, 2008
Flash Back to 4 years ago
Dave at the front doors of the famous domed cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, (Il Duomo)
Four years ago today Dave and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary (a few weeks early) in Florence, Italy. David had an emergency appendectomy just two weeks earlier. However it didn't stop us from walking all day long each day to see the great museums and cathedrals of the world housed in this one city. We rented an apartment for the week to live like the Italians. It was on Via Delle Terme near Palazzo Vecchio in the center of town. We would come home for lunch and both take a few aspirin for our aching legs, and then go out again. It reminded me a bit of all the walking I did many years earlier as a missionary in Italy.
My favorite story of our trip, though, is eating at a trattoria that had been recommended in my Frommer's book-- 'Il Pennello' on Via Dante Alighieri. The food was excellent, and our waiter was friendly. I said to him in my best Italian, "I understand that many famous painters used to come to this restaurant. Is that true?" Rather than just give me an answer, he asked us to come with him. He took us through a hall and up a few steps to another room that was empty--except for a full size painting that covered one wall. The painting was by Mariotto Albertinelli. He was a painter by hobby who opened the restaurant in the 1500s. The portrait was of the room we were in. We could match up the columns and architectural features in the painting with those of the room. In the portrait, facing us in life size was Michelangelo, and other celebrated Flortentine artists of the time like Del Sarto and Cellini who liked to hang out at Albertinelli's place.)
I was almost speechless. Of all the paintings we had seen in all the museums this one was powerful because it was in the original location. I could easily imagine these great artists in this same room 500 years ago! And they were talking and eating there just like we were. The waiter could see how deeply impressed I was by this unexpected surprise--and then told us that 200 years before Albertinelli had owned the place, it had belonged to the great writer, Dante!
He kindly gave me this postcard that tells of the history of the place. Though it may not be known with certainty that this was the actual house of Dante, it is agreed that Dante lived on the block--which was named for him. The sense of history and all the many great people who lived in this one town is absolutely astounding.
We were also able to tour Michelangelo's house and to walk by Galileo's house, the church where Amerigo Vespucci attended, the burial place (SantaCroce Cathedral) of Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo, and Niccolo Machiavelli. We saw the great works of Brunelleschi, Ghirlandaio, Boticelli, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Donnatello, and Della Robbia. We took a day trip to nearby Fiesole where we saw models of Leonardo da Vinco's inventions as well as Roman baths and an Etruscan temple.
This year's anniversary will be great in another way--I'll be with the same great guy! You can check back in a few weeks for details on this year's 24th anniversary.