Florence – Foscolo

The poet and revolutionary, Ugo Foscolo, (see previous blog) has an impressive monument in Santa Croce. In the same church are the tombs of many other great Italians such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Rossini.

Ugo Foscolo Memorial Florence


Vasari – Florence

Today is the anniversary of the death of Italian author and artist, Giorgio Vasari, who died in 1574.

As we mentioned in a previous post, Vasari’s main claim to fame is as a writer. His book, “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects”, was published in 1550 and is still in print today.

Vasari was also the favourite architect of Cosimo I de Medici, designing the Uffizi Palace in Florence, and the Vasari Corridor which connects it to the Pitti Palace on the other side of the Arno. The 1km long Vasari Corridor features in Dan Brown’s novel, “Inferno”. The corridor can be visited on a guided tour.


Shakespeare – Verona

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare on 23 April, we have a post on the northern Italian city of Verona.

After London and Stratford-on-Avon, Verona is probably the next best place to connect with the famous bard. Although he probably never visited the city, three of Shakespeare’s plays are set in Verona: Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew.

Verona still retains a medieval atmosphere and the city has taken a best guess at what might have been Juliet’s home and opened it to tourists, so you can see the famous balcony. Juliet’s tomb can also be visited in the church of San Francesco.

We like the bust of Shakespeare which can be found on the mediaeval wall overlooking Verona’s famous Roman arena. Next to it is the following quote from Romeo and Juliet.

“There is no world without Verona walls, but purgatory, torture, hell itself, hence banished is banish’d from the world, and world’s exile is death.”

Shakespeare Verona

Luca Pacioli – Sansepolcro

Luca Pacioli, another famous mathematician and writer, was also born in Sansepolcro. He was a friend of Piero della Francesca, and used some of Piero’s ideas in a geometry book that he wrote called De Divina Proportione. Another friend, the famous Leonardo da Vinci, illustrated the book.

Luca Pacioli is most famous for his book of arithmetic and geometry that he wrote for students in schools in northern Italy. The book  contains the first published account of double entry bookkeeping as used by Venetian merchants in the 15th century, which led Pacioli to be known as the Father of Accounting.

Luca Pacioli was born in Sansepolcro in 1447 and died there in 1517. The town remembers him with a statue, erected for the 500th anniversary of his birth.

Luca Pacioli San Sepolcro

Piero della Francesca – Sansepolcro

Sansepolcro is a smallish town hidden away in the southeast corner of Tuscany. The easiest way to visit this interesting place is by train from Perugia, although there is also a bus from Arezzo.

Piero della Francesca (see previous post) was born and died in Sansepolcro and some of his paintings are on display in the civic museum. The town is also the birthplace of Matteo Cioni, who translated into Latin Piero della Francesca’s treatise on perspective.

In Sansepolcro there is a small park named after Piero della Francesca and a larger than life statue of him at the entrance.

Piero della Francesca San Sepolcro

Piero della Francesca – Arezzo

In his book, “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects”, Giorgio Vasari (see previous post) mentions the work of Piero della Francesca. A painter of the early Renaissance period, Piero della Francesca was also an accomplished mathematician, publishing several texts on geometry and perspective. His most famous work of art is a cycle of frescoes titled “The History of the True Cross” in the church of San Francesco in Arezzo.

Piero della Francesca Arezzo

Giorgio Vasari – Arezzo

Born in Arezzo in 1511, Giorgio Vasari, like his friend Michelangelo, was a true Renaissance man. He was an accomplished artist and also an important architect, designing the Uffizi Palace in Florence, and the Vasari Corrido which connects it to the Pitti Palace on the other side of the Arno.

But Vasari’s main claim to fame is as a writer. His book, “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects”, was published in 1550 and is still in print today. Vasari was the first to use the term “Renaissance” to describe the changes in art, politics and science which began in 14th century Florence, and he is sometimes now called “the first art historian”.

The Casa Vasari in Arezzo, where Vasari lived from 1540, is now an interesting museum. The mediaeval abbey (Badia) church of Saints Flora and Lucia in Arezzo was rebuilt from 1565 to a design by Vasari.

Badia Arezzo


Guido d’Arezzo – Talla

The tiny Italian town of Talla claims to be the birthplace of Guido d’Arezzo, the 11th century musical scholar who invented modern musical notation. That’s despite the fact that most experts have his birthplace as near Paris or in Arezzo.

According to ancient tradition and Talla residents, Guido was born in a building next to the church which is on a hillside overlooking the village. A museum of music – Il Museo della Musica “Guido d’Arezzo” has been established in the building.

Talla can be reached by bus from Rassina which is a stop on the private railway (LFI) connecting Arezzo with towns to the north.

Talla View

Guido d’Arezzo

What Petrarch (see previous post) did for poetry, including the invention of the sonnet, another famous Aretini did for music. Guido d’Arezzo, a 10th century mediaeval monk, was the inventor of modern musical notation. His treatise on Gregorian chant was widely read in the Middle Ages.

In Arezzo, there is a statue of Guido d’Arezzo who was also known as Guido Monaco, in Piazza Guido Monaco.

Guido Monaco Arezzo

Petrarch – Arezzo

Francesco Petracco, the 14th century Italian writer known as Petrarch, was born in Arezzo in 1304. Like his friend Boccaccio (see previous post) he travelled widely in Italy and also spent many years in Avignon in the south of France.

Petrarch’s writing along with the works of Dante Alighieri and Giovanni Boccaccio formed the basis of the modern Italian language. His rediscovery of Latin texts from antiquity and his philosophical writings influenced later thinkers during the Italian Renaissance.

Arezzo honours Petrarch with an impressive statue in the park behind San Donato Cathedral.

Petrarch statue Arezzo