This essay defining what Petrarch saw as treasures is included in my most recent book The Modern Salonnière. The 34 other essays in the book feature…View More Treasures According to Petrarch
I’ve come close to the legacy left by Petrarch a number of times—on a train zipping between Bologna and Venice; in the Beinecke Library holding his parchments in my hands; and in Parma, which was once his home town.
His connection to Parma was an intermittent one because his residence there was one of a handful across the region to which he had access as the Canon and the Archbishop of the diocese, a career choice he made so he could spend as much time writing as possible. He could have had far greater material rewards in his choices of positions but he refused appointments that would have taken him higher in the church’s political pecking order so that he could concentrate on his literary works.
The heights to which he did rise were strenuous enough, requiring a fair amount of travel, and demanding he be a confidant to and a sounding board for popes, bishops, emperors and kings. The fact he was on the church’s dole gave him enough financial support that he was able to carve out a fair amount of time for crafting poetry, but it also meant he was expected to live a celibate life. It was truly thrilling to sit for a while just outside the courtyard of the Bishop’s Palace in the Piazza del Duomo looking toward the cathedral—both extant when Petrarch was a clergyman in town.
Saluting the Renaissance Book Club
This essay celebrating the first printing presses during the Renaissance in Florence, Italy, is included in my most recent book The Modern Salonnière. The 34 other…View More Saluting the Renaissance Book Club
Shadowing Petrarch in Parma
This essay is included in my new book The Modern Salonnière. The 34 other essays in the book feature similar literary adventures and traveling with intention. …View More Shadowing Petrarch in Parma
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…View More Far from Oblivious in Bologna
Madame Récamier and the Art of Reclining
Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Bernard, known after her marriage as Juliette Récamier, was born on December 4, 1777—240 years ago yesterday. Had she lived during modern…View More Madame Récamier and the Art of Reclining
Touching Literary History
I will once again be touching literary history soon, as the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University reopened yesterday following a 16-month…View More Touching Literary History
A Definition of Fleeting
“O nature, merciful and cruel mother, when do you have such power and such contrary wills, to make and unmake things so charming?” —Petrarch Petrarch,…View More A Definition of Fleeting
Barrymore Avignon Chair: A Love Story
Barrymore Avignon Chair: A Love Story Oh, fateful town in France! While communing in your Sainte-Claire d’Avignon, I saw her. Laura. The name that would…View More Barrymore Avignon Chair: A Love Story
Rococo Style in Italy
If I told you the most surprising thing I found in Parma, Italy, was France, would you think I’d lost my mind? I’m not speaking…View More Rococo Style in Italy