Virgil Reading the Aeneid

Far from Oblivious in Bologna

  If you find yourself strolling along the streets of Bologna near the city’s center, don’t be surprised if you turn a corner and come upon an anomaly. It will stand unapologetically as traffic whizzes by, a thumb of unruly masonry with its flanks sawed off. The amputations were necessary to make way for thoroughfares […]

Chambre Bleu painting

A Backward Glance on rue de Varenne

  The narrow sidewalks push their black iron batons up out of the ground to protect the buildings hemming them; the rain turns the cobblestones to muted mirrors of damp light—I’m visiting her again on the anniversary of her 155th birthday, and it dawns on me that I’ve never seen the statuesque green door with […]

Antonio Cotti paints "Dante in Verona"

Reading Dante in Milan

  “I’d like that sunny table near the windows under the beautiful mirror,” he says to the hostess at Le Vrai, pointing to the niche set with two café tables, perfect for reading Dante all afternoon. Only a few decades earlier, the waistcoat and watch fob dangling from its pocket would have been out of […]

Exterior Sculpture on the Duomo di Milano

Shelley in Italy

Soon after he embarked upon a four-year Wanderjahr through Italy with his beloved wife Mary—a trip that would turn out to be an end-of-life journey—the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley found himself in Milan. While there, he would make his way to the cathedral in the center of town to sit within its shadowy vaulted interior […]