Florence's Renaissance Giant: Michelangelo’s David

Pick up any Florence guidebook, and it urges you to visit the Accademia, one of the city’s great art museums, to see Michelangelo’s David. When we first visited the city in 2003, we took heed and made reservations to view what is probably the most famous statue in the world. Michelangelo began the sculpture in 1501, believing it would ultimately stand on the roof of the city’s cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. The 26-year-old artist worked on the huge block of white marble—cutting, chiseling, and chipping—until beauty emerged. He confronted challenges posed by the marble's composition, dimensions, and the sheer physical demands of shaping stone. He must have had tremendous biceps and forearm

The Road to Italy

Until 2003, I had never set foot in Italy. Books enticed me to visit the Italian peninsula—and they ended up whisking me into a garden on a Tuscan hillside. To help explain, here’s my essay that appeared in Strut Magazine in August 2005.* Thank you, Frances Mayes I’ve never considered myself a fan. No fan club memberships, even when I was a preteen and Bobby Sherman was the rage. I appreciate creative people who help shape our culture; it’s just that I think they should be left alone to do their jobs. In college, I attended a reading of one of my favorite authors, but was disappointed when all he did was—read. My balcony seat didn’t even allow me a good look at the guy. The dust jacket photo

Touring Florence: Keep Your Chin Up

On our first evening back in Florence, we had just left a restaurant on a narrow street in the Oltrarno, the neighborhood on the south side of the Arno River, when my husband stopped dead in his tracks. "Did you forget something?” I asked. He shook his head. Noticing the lift of his chin, I followed his elevated gaze. Above a tall door, I discovered a glazed relief in blues and yellows depicting the Annunciation. “We need to look up,” he said. “Otherwise, we’ll miss things.” Photo by Diana Dinverno This proved to be an astute observation. In Florence’s historic city center, there are plenty of architectural wonders to direct your attention skyward. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, cro

Debut Blog Post: Falling in Love with Italy

Photo by Diana Dinverno An Italian Heart in my Cappuccino In September when I was in Florence, Italy, doing research for a writing project, I sat at a table while my husband, Christopher, ordered cappuccini at a bar. A few minutes later, the young man behind the counter placed two cups and saucers on the marble top. Christopher carried our beverages to our table and sat. The barista leaned over the bar to get our attention, and gestured that we should switch cups. “Per la signora (For the lady),” the young man said. My husband did as he requested and when I looked into my cup, found my steaming cappuccino had a heart of foam. The barista grinned. I smiled, nodded, and murmured grazie. This i

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