Reciting Dante in Florence. Unexpected travel experiences (book)
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter.
Okay, the truth is he didn’t say that. But it’s the only verse of the Divine Comedy I remember. The inscription above the entrance of Hell. No comment.
Last evening in Florence
Our last evening in Florence after a week tour in Tuscany (Pisa, Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano and Arezzo). We thought that our experience from the trip was over. The next morning we would leave for Ancona, to take the ship back home.
But Florence is inexhaustible. She had a farewell surprise in store for us.
We sat at the restaurant we knew from last time, three years ago. The Sasso di Dante, Dante’s rock. It’s next to the stone of the same name. Dante was supposed to be sitting there for years, watching the Duomo being constructed.
The Duomo, with the largest dome ever built before the invention of concrete. Feel free to be ecstatic
I don’t know if you understood from that that we sat opposite the famous cathedral of Florence, the Virgin Mary of the Flower (Santa Maria del Fiore). The most famous monument, in the city’s heart.
Like sitting opposite the Eiffel tower. Yet, it was not what you imagine. That’s why we chose it again for our last night in Florence.
An unexpected experience
And while we were eating, there comes a guy dressed in medieval clothes. Being opposite the cathedral, we imagined the worst. We armed ourselves with patience and prepared to bear it. But we were wrong.
Eventually, we listened to about a half-hour recitation of the Divine Comedy in perfectly poetic language.
And not only that. It was accompanied by acting. The Divine Comedy is like a play, with many persons and dialogues. Well, the guy did it all in a one-man-show.
The official Italian is the Tuscan dialect. And not by chance. Tuscany owes this to Dante. The success of the Divine Comedy, considered since centuries the leading Italian literary work, transformed the hitherto insignificant dialect into the official Italian language.
Therefore, a quality recitation of the Divine Comedy was the greatest communion with Italian culture we could imagine. And it cost only what one had the pleasure to give.
Even without understanding a word of Italian, eating well opposite the Duomo at night, while listening to the Divine Comedy, is the most complete package of Florentine experience you can have.
Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance
To get serious for a while (only), Florence, being the cradle of the Renaissance, is so rich in monuments, that there’s no sense in listing them. Whichever touristic guide you open, you will find them.
You will say that I become too academic, but I just can’t skip that… Santa Maria Novella, near the railway station. A work of Alberti, the leading theorist of Renaissance architecture. He built only three buildings, but what buildings! The geometric designs of the facade are considered the quintessence of Renaissance harmony (golden ratio etc.). From here started, if not all, at least much
The rest of the article, in this book
About the author
Hello! I am Denis, an architect based in Athens, Greece. I teach history of art and architecture in higher education. That’s one passion of mine. The other one is hiking, in and out of town. If you follow me, I’ll share my discoveries with you.
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