A Wanderer in Florence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 333 pages of information about A Wanderer in Florence.

S. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, a member of the same family that plotted against the Medici and owned the sacred flints, was born in 1566, and, says Miss Dunbar, [8] “showed extraordinary piety from a very tender age”.  When only a child herself she used to teach small children, and she daily carried lunch to the prisoners.  Her real name was Catherine, but becoming a nun she called herself Mary Magdalene.  In an illness in which she was given up for dead, she lay on her bed for forty days, during which she saw continual visions, and then recovered.  Like S. Catherine of Bologna she embroidered well and painted miraculously, and she once healed a leprosy by licking it.  She died in 1607.

The old English Cemetery, as it is usually called—­the Protestant Cemetery, as it should be called—­is an oval garden of death in the Piazza Donatello, at the end of the Via di Pinti and the Via Alfieri, rising up from the boulevard that surrounds the northern half of Florence. (The new Protestant Cemetery is outside the city on the road to the Certosa.) I noticed, as I walked beneath the cypresses, the grave of Arthur Hugh Clough, the poet of “Dipsychus,” who died here in Florence on November 13th, 1861; of Walter Savage Landor, that old lion (born January 30th, 1775; died September 17th, 1864), of whom I shall say much more in a later chapter; of his son Arnold, who was born in 1818 and died in 1871; and of Mrs. Holman Hunt, who died in 1866.  But the most famous grave is that of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who lies beneath a massive tomb that bears only the initials E.B.B. and the date 1861.  “Italy,” wrote James Thomson, the poet of “The City of Dreadful Night,” on hearing of Mrs. Browning’s death,

“Italy, you hold in trust
Very sacred human dust.”

CHAPTER XX

The Cascine and the Arno

Florence’s Bois de Boulogne—­Shelley—­The races—­The game of Pallone—­SS.  Ognissanti—­Botticelli and Ghirlandaio—­Amerigo Vespucci—­The Platonic Academy’s garden—­Alberti’s Palazzo Rucellai—­Melancholy decay—­Two smiling boys—­The Corsini palace—­The Trinita bridge—­The Borgo San Jacopo from the back—­Home fishing—­SS.  Apostoli—­A sensitive river—­The Ponte Vecchio—­The goldsmiths—­S.  Stefano.

The Cascine is the “Bois” of Florence; but it does not compare with the Parisian expanse either in size or attraction.  Here the wealthy Florentines drive, the middle classes saunter and ride bicycles, the poor enjoy picnics, and the English take country walks.  The further one goes the better it is, and the better also the river, which at the very end of the woods becomes such a stream as the pleinairistes love, with pollarded trees on either side.  Among the trees of one of these woods nearly a hundred years ago, a walking Englishman named Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote his “Ode to the West Wind”.

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A Wanderer in Florence from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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