In September of 1846 after honeymooning in Paris and being disowned by Elizabeth’s father, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning moved to Florence, Italy.
late 1840's Florence, Italy saw: itself being a part of the Hapsburg- Lorraine Dynasty continued recovery from the 1844 floods tourism as a significant industry premiere of Verde's opera MacBeth Plato-Florence railway opens
As a late 20th century middle-schooler tourist girl, I fell in love with Florence. I loved walking the streets with the fanciest storefronts littered with tacky tourist dangling spots too. I loved being offered drinks because I looked much older than I was, and sneaking bits of wine. I loved the heavy humid smells of fragrant food, overheated people, and fishy water. I saw my own David (Michelangelo)! I learned about the Medici, Alighieri, Machiavelli, da Vinci, Dante*, Botticelli, the Ponte Vecchio, Fountain of Neptune, the Duomo, Raphael… and so much more. I used my own pocket money to purchase a gilded leather bookmark and snazzy baby blue ankle boots. The boots are long gone back to dust, but the bookmark is still in my keepsakes drawer, as pristine as ever. I was so proud of being able to buy beautiful things from Italy. I loved having this experience, and remember spots and images to this burgeoning old-lady-times day.
I did not know about the history of the Barrett-Brownings (or a shit ton of other stuff, which I still do not know anything much about anything much and the more I think I am about to know, the less I see that I actually know – you know?). If I had known, I would have been one even more day-dreamy love moony middle school girl meandering the streets of Florence with whispers in my (then) curly blonde head of:
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and Ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. (E.B.B. Sonnets From the Portuguese #43)
By then I had felt the full force of my first major crush. An older boy, natch, with thick wavy dark hair and happy eye smiles. He said I’d grown up a lot over the summer and looked fantastic. I think I melted to the floor because I was not aware he even knew my name. Which is a ridiculous thing for me to think since there were probably a total of 150 kids from middle through high school and we all shared the same classrooms and teachers. Then again, I probably only spoke to a handful of people because that’s how I roll(ed). I was (am) of the awkwards.
I miss the clear fond voices, which, being drawn and reconciled into the music of Heaven's undefiled, call me no longer. (E.B.B. Sonnets From the Portuguese #33)
The ebb and flow of all of the things.
Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo
ps I believe I have found our Miss Emily Bond Anderson and Mr. David Stewart! To be continued…
*I KNOW that Dante and Alighieri are the same person… brain blip blamed on enthusiasm and lingering real work awaiting my attentzione