To have a richer experience of Italy during our trip you might want to read a bit about the place before we go. Here are some recommendations.
Pick up most any travel magazine and you will find an article about Italy.
I like to go to the library and browse through the magazines for sale ($1.00 each). National Geographic Traveler and Condé Nast Traveler both frequently feature Italian locations prominently. They have beautiful photos, too.
For more in depth historical information I highly recommend Ross King’s books. They are well researched, easy, and entertaining to read. Plus, these two relate to places we will be seeing.
Michaelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling where in you will find out that MA was grumpy, died with his boots on, and rarely bathed. You will also learn that MA’s painting and composition improved once he looked at what Raphael was doing and he was able to get back (really really far back) and evaluate what he had already finished.
Brunelleschi’s Dome you will find that the Dark Ages were not really so dark, and if you adopt one of your apprentices you’d better be sure he’s not going to rob you blind. Il Duomo (the house) is the tallest most imposing building in Florence. We will definitely enter it. Also, this is where the famous Baptistry doors are that heralded the start of the Renaissance.
I am thinking about getting his book about Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power. Machiavelli and Michaelanglo are both buried in (I think it is ) Santo Spirito church in Florence. We will probably tour that church. I think Dante might be buried there, too but I am not sure since he was banished from Florence for writing The Divine Comedy.
If you are interested in how Italy became unified (19th century) and how come the Pope got squeezed into the small city state of Vatican you might want to read David Kertzer’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara
It looks like Kertzer has written a number of books about Italy that might be interesting.
And, finally, if you are interested in contemporary Italy there is an EXCELLENT book by Tobias Jones. It is very very entertaining! David (and maybe Sharon) is reading it now. Any comments David?
The Dark Heart of Italy
Next week: movies