The City of Florence : Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings, by R. W. B. Lewis
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Paperback – 351 pages Reprint edition (April 1996)
Henry Holt (Paper); ISBN: 0805046305 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.98 x 8.18 x 5.48


From Booklist , March 1, 1995: “Like all great cities of the world, Florence is a sensual and intellectual experience, and the exact nature of the Florentine experience is spelled out in loving detail by the biographer of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Offering readers the proverbial room with a view, Lewis visits various stages and junctures in Florence’s distinguished history, illuminating the ingredients that have gone into the making of Florence’s incomparability. His book is an ode to Florence’s psyche and physical form; it is travel writing at its best. Factual and personal, backwards-glancing as well as geared to the present, it is a well-written, compelling work. Fulfilling Lewis’ intention, we come away with a keen sense of the entire pageant of Florence’s civic and cultural life.” Brad Hooper, Copyright© 1995, American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to the hardcover edition of this title.

Synopsis : In this deeply personal and learned labor of love, the acclaimed chronicler of such great American cosmopolitans as Edith Wharton and Henry James, provides a new look at the glories of Florence, the smallish Tuscan city that has been a prime source for modern Western culture and has also been his second home for the past 50 years. “A treasurable guide.”–Publishers Weekly. Photos.

“The prize-winning biographer of Edith Wharton and of The Jameses presents an intimate portrait of one of the world’s most cultural cities. In chapters dense with detail and personal reflection, Lewis provides a new look at the glories of Florence, casting new light on Florence’s cultural patrimony and civic legacy.” –This text refers to the hardcover edition of this title

“A traveler’s journey through Florence offers a historic portrait that gives insight into the city’s influence on modern Western culture and its civil legacy from the Middle Ages, and covers the Arno, Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Santa Croce, and other landmarks.” –This text refers to the hardcover edition of this title

Booknews, Inc. , August 1, 1995: “A delightfully personal and learned look at the Tuscan city of Florence, encompassing its cultural, civic and artistic legacy from the Middle Ages to the present. Lewis discusses Florence’s designs and principal designers, special sites and neighborhoods, artistic history, and the feel of this unique city. B&w photographs and a few line-drawn maps.” Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or. –This text refers to the hardcover edition of this title

Dino Compagni’s Chronicle of Florence (Middle Ages Series) by Dino Compagni, Daniel Bornstein (Translator)
Amazon Price: $17.95
Paperback – 110 pages (July 1986)
University of Pennsylvania Press; ISBN: 0812212215 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.41 x 8.93 x 5.85

Florence : A Portrait, by Michael Levey
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Paperback – 560 pages Reprint edition (November 1998)
Harvard Univ Pr; ISBN: 0674306589 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.20 x 9.57 x 7.36

Florence : The Golden Age 1138-1737, by Gene Adam Brucker
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Paperback – 278 pages Reprint edition (March 1998)
Univ California Press; ISBN: 0520215222 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.98 x 11.28 x 9.72

Florence and the Renaissance : The Quattrocento by Alain J. Lemaitre, Erich Lessing (Contributor)
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Paperback – 224 pages (March 1997)
Terrail; ISBN: 2879390214 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.76 x 11.95 x 9.43

“For over 200 years, Florence was at the heart of the Italian Renaissance. In this sumptuous volume, the authors chart the flowering of the extraordinary artistic achievement of the Renaissance through the architecture, sculpture, and paintings of Florence. Over 170 color photos.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

Midwest Book Review: “For over 200 years (from the end of the thirteenth century) Florence was the city at the heart of the Italian Renaissance. Florence And The Renaissance is a sumptuous volume wherein Alain Lemaitre and Erich Lessing chart the full flowering of an extraordinary artistic Florentine Renaissance achievement through the mediums of architecture, sculpture and paintings. Beautifully illustrated with over 170 full color paintings, Florence and the Renaissance pays tribute to the artists whose work has continue to dominate and influence European art for centuries.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

Fortune is a River: Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli’s Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History, by Roger D. Masters
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Hardcover – 288 pages (June 1998)
Simon & Schuster; ISBN: 0684844524 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.07 x 9.56 x 6.63

Reviews: From “History is sometimes made by seemingly insignificant moments that turn out to have been pivotal in hindsight–and sometimes what didn’t happen proves to be as important as what did. One such moment came in the Florentine court of Cesare Borgia, when a civil servant named Niccolò Machiavelli recruited a local engineer named Leonardo da Vinci to devise a plan to change the course of the Arno River. Diverting that river, Machiavelli reasoned, would deprive Florence’s enemy, the nearby city-state of Pisa, of a dependable water supply. It would also make the Arno River navigable for oceangoing vessels from the inland city of Florence, and as an added incentive, would help limit damage caused by the flood-prone Arno to the surrounding farmlands. Machiavelli and da Vinci devised a hydrological plan for the river that was extraordinarily promising, at least on paper. The flood-prone Arno, however, made the task an impossible challenge. The pair’s chances of success were further reduced by poor design, bad timing, and undisciplined workers. Their failure brought official disfavor on Machiavelli and da Vinci alike. Leonardo transferred his studio to Milan and then Rome, where he would produce remarkable work, while Machiavelli retreated from public life for a time and used his forced leisure to write The Prince. Roger Masters crafts an epic tale out of a historical footnote. Although some of his conclusions are speculative in regards to Niccolò’s and Leonardo’s relationship, readers will likely find his narrative persuasive and deeply informed.”

The Wall Street Journal, Gary Rosen: “He skillfully navigates the intricacies of Renaissance politics, capturing the turbulence and intrigue of the age. More important, he provides a helpful primer on what was indeed revolutionary, and strikingly modern, in the thought of his protagonists.”

The New York Times, Richard Bernstein: “…a marvelously provocative thesis that ought to generate some discussion … [H]is portrait of Machiavelli as both genius and libertine, triumphant statesman and humiliated intriguer, are among the most interesting passages of a very interesting book.”

From Kirkus Reviews , April 15, 1998: “A curious work based on speculation and conjecture more than documents, yet interesting in its own way. Although historians have long speculated that Leonardo da Vinci and Niccol Machiavelli knew each other and perhaps collaborated on a fantastic project to transform Florence into a seaport by diverting the Arno River, little evidence survives to reconstruct the story. Masters (Government/Dartmouth) makes a valiant attempt to do so, and that lack of documentation allows him to weave a fanciful tale. With the discovery of the “New World” shifting the economic focus of Europe to the Atlantic and away from the Italian city-states, Florence was desperate to reassert its dominance in European trade. On a smaller scale, the “Athens of Italy” was in a perpetual state of war with its neighboring city-states, especially Milan, Venice, Pisa, Lucca, and the papacy. Focusing more on Leonardo’s capacities as a brilliant military technician rather than as an artist and Machiavelli’s responsibilities as administrator and diplomat for Florence rather than his role as political theorist, Masters recounts their failed attempt to divert the Arno by building a series of canals that would transform Florence into a seaport, allowing the city to engage in the trans-Atlantic trade. At the same time, the diversion of the Arno would deprive the city of Pisa of a necessary water supply, thereby forcing its defeat and Florence’s domination of Tuscany. As might be expected from the lack of evidence, only a small part of this short book is devoted to the actual project; most of the narrative is taken up with introducing Leonardo’s genius in constructing military defense systems and urban planning while uncovering Machiavelli’s career as Florentine diplomat and administrator. Although readers might be frustrated at the slight reconstruction of the project, they will be rewarded with a behind-the-scenes look at Renaissance society: its spying, treachery, machinations, striving for power and patrons, and a more human portrait of both protagonists. Readers might recall Machiavelli’s famous aphorism, “Fortune is a woman that sometimes has to be taken by force before she has a chance to resist”; here they will find one of the more curious collaborations in history to take Fortune. (illustrations) — Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.”

“Few people know that Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli crossed paths when Leonardo worked — ostensibly as an engineer, possibly as a spy — in Cesare Borgia’s court and Machiavelli was Florence’s ambassador there. Soon thereafter, they formed a friendship and an alliance. Astonishingly, during the rich first decade of the sixteenth century, the pair joined together under the inspiration of one of Leonardo’s most fantastic dreams: to build a system of canals that would make the Arno River navigable from Florence to the sea. Under Machiavelli’s supervision, the Florentine government tried — and ultimately failed — to realize a portion of this plan in 1504. The first canal in the scheme had a military purpose, to cut off the water supply of Pisa, Florence’s enemy — but that was only the beginning. Leonardo dreamed of irrigating the Arno valley and controlling its water in order to fill Florence’s coffers with tax revenues. He and Machiavelli foresaw the day that Amerigo Vespucci and other explorers would be able to sail from the city center to the sea, to travel over new lands and enrich Florentine merchants. Had the taming of the Arno succeeded, Florence might have become the center of a great world power. Unfortunately, in one of history’s most tantalizing might-have-beens, the plans for the Pisa diversion were altered by the engineer in charge, not enough workmen were hired, and the ditches were not dug deeply enough. Not long after a sudden flood destroyed some of the work, the project was abandoned. It was one of a series of failures for Leonardo, who ultimately would depart Florence for Milan, Rome, and France, newly convinced that political power was essential for an engineer and artist to thrive. For Machiavelli it was another military failure in a roller-coaster political career. If the project had materialized, the Republic might never have been overthrown, and Machiavelli might not have fallen from power and been imprisoned. Roger Masters’s account of the friendship between two of history’s greatest geniuses starts with this tale of a magnificent lost dream and spirals outward to the art, politics, intrigue, and sexual scandals of Florence. Leonardo’s preoccupation with the Arno project explains many of the tantalizing mysteries of his work. It is the reason for the startling bird’s-eye view of the valley in the background of the Mona Lisa; it is part and parcel of both his obsession, in the Notebooks, with understanding the dynamics of water, and his work on canals and swamp drainage in Milan, Rome, and France. As for Machiavelli, were it not for his time spent in prison, he might never have been compelled to write The Prince. Fortune Is a River is at once a study of genius and a rich and delightful introduction to the wonders of the Renaissance.”

Greg ( from New York , August 24, 1998: “A journey to the heart of the Renaissance. Starting from the unlikely perspective of a little known (perhaps because unsuccessful) collaboration between two of the greatest minds of the Renaissance to divert the course of the Arno River, Masters depicts the whole of 15th century Florentine life and unearths the themes that shaped Western Civilization. Besides the biographies of two fascinating men, he explores social mores, religious practice, hydraulic engineering, painting (fresco and canvas), music, literature, politics, the effect of illegitimacy on career opportunities and the economic, social, and psychological effects of the discovery of the New World. And that’s only in the first two chapters! Painstakingly researched and beautifully written, this book should be read by anyone who wants to know how our culture came to be what it is. It suffers only from poor proofreading, and even that is compensated for by its magnificent typography. Don’t be put off if I make it sound high-brow–it’s not. It’s highly readable, with fascinating, vivid characters who are amazingly similar to us, both in their lofty goals and in their all-too-human failings.”

From Poliziano to Machiavelli : Florentine Humanism in the High Renaissance, by Peter Godman
Amazon Price: $49.50
Hardcover – 408 pages (July 1998)
Princeton Univ Pr; ISBN: 0691017468 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.17 x 9.57 x 6.35

Book Description: “Peter Godman presents the first intellectual history of Florentine humanism from the lifetime of Angelo Poliziano in the later fifteenth century to the death of Niccol Machiavelli in 1527. Making use of unpublished and rare sources, Godman traces the development of philological and official humanism after the expulsion of the Medici in 1494 up to and beyond their restoration in 1512. He draws long overdue attention to the work of Marcello Virgilio Adriani–Poliziano’s successor in his Chair at the Studio and Machiavelli’s colleague at the Chancery of Florence. And he examines in depth the intellectual impact of Savonarola and the relationship between secular and religious and oral and print cultures. Godman shows a complex reaction of rivalry and antagonism in Machiavelli’s approach to Marcello Virgilio, who was the leading Florentine humanist of the day. But he also demonstrates that Florentine humanists shared a common culture, marked by a preference for secular over religious themes and by constant anxiety about surviving and prospering in the city’s dangerous political climate. The book concludes with an appendix, drawn from previously inaccessible archives, about the censorship of Machiavelli by the Inquisition and the Index. From Poliziano to Machiavelli adds new depth to the intellectual history of Florence during this most dynamic period in its history.”

“Peter Godman presents the first intellectual history of Florentine humanism from the lifetime of Angelo Poliziano in the later fifteenth century to the death of Niccolo Machiavelli in 1527. Making use of unpublished and rare sources, Godman traces the development of philological and official humanism after the expulsion of the Medici in 1494 up to and beyond their restoration in 1512. He draws long overdue attention to the work of Marcello Virgilio Adriani – Poliziano’s successor in his Chair at the Studio and Machiavelli’s colleague at the Chancery of Florence. And he examines in depth the intellectual impact of Savonarola and the relationship between secular and religious and oral and print cultures.”

The Government of Florence Under the Medici (1434 to 1494) (Oxford-Warburg Studies), by Nicolai Rubinstein
Amazon Price: $87.00
Hardcover 2nd edition (November 1997)
Clarendon Pr; ISBN: 0198174187

The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall, by Christopher, Hibbert
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Paperback – 364 pages (May 1980)
William Morrow & Co Paper; ISBN: 0688053394 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.13 x 9.20 x 6.00


Sheila Siden ( from Seattle, WA , August 15, 1998 : “History comes to life of city-state Italy & the papacy Seeing Lorenzo il magnifico’s mean face around Florence, I thought he would be one of the bad guys in the Medici family. He was not. Hibbert makes the history and politics behind the busts and paintings of cinquecento Florence come to life. His story about the House of Medici explains this ruling family’s extinction along with the odd fact that their name is still plastered all over Florence, and Fiesole, too, centuries later. The great storyteller, Hibbert portrays the survivalist instinct of a few individuals that did not allow the Medici name to become extinct along with its people. Hibbert describes another time and another Italy, before, during and after the Renaissance (cinquecento). People die suddenly. Florence is a seat of world power. Members of an early merchant family, the Medici personages from numerous generations take key actions. Hibbert gives us the context of their cirsumstances. They almost all get gout, too. Wealth was a sin. The Vatican had an army. At this time, new thinkers were put before the inquisition. However, the Medicis had a hand in protecting and promoting the discussion and dissemination of new ideas. The Medicis, and Florence, deserve to be remembered for their shelter of the people with the new ideas that became known as the Renaissance. Good novel quality.”


Ismail Merchant’s Florence : Filming and Feasting in Tuscany/70 Recipes, by Ismail Merchant, Derrick Santini (Photographer)
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Hardcover – 152 pages (May 1994)
Harry N Abrams; ISBN: 0810936399 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.82 x 10.32 x 9.40

Reviews : “From Booklist , July 19, 1994: “A talented film producer adds to his growing culinary work by launching the first of many cook-alogues about cities where he has filmed and feasted. The site this first time is Florence and environs, where he filmed his beloved A Room with a View. In fact, the 70 recipes are almost incidental to Merchant’s g astronomic tour of the area, the accompanying photography, and tales of the film’s near disasters and final successes. Scouting for locations starts, of course, with a meal; the actual shoot is enhanced by, yes, yet more feasts and Merchant’s impromptu dinners. The dishes reflect very simple Tuscan fare with more than a few of the author’s improvisations. A passionate and personal reflection on movies and meals.” Barbara Jacobs Copyright© 1994, American Library Association. All rights reserved

Room With a View (Dover Thrift Edition), by Foester. E.M., E. M. Forster
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Paperback – 172 pages (May 1995)
Dover Pubns; ISBN: 0486284670 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.50 x 8.24 x 5.16

Reviews ” A classic tale of British middle-class love, this novel displays Forster’s skill in contrasting British sensibilities with those of foreign cultures, as he portrays the love of a British woman for an expatriate living in Italy. One of Forster’s earliest and most celebrated works.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

Synopsis: “This classic work, set in turn of the century Florence and the English countryside, follows the innocent Lucy Honeychurch as she broadens her world with the glorious art and architecture of Italy, only to have her newly found passion squelched upon her return to Victorian England.” 4 cassettes. –This text refers to the audio cassette edition of this title.

Synopsis: “The love of Lucy Honeychurch, a young British woman, for a British expatriate living in Italy is condemned by her stuffy middle-class guardians, who prefer an eligible man of their own choosing, in a multicast dramatization featuring music and sound effects.” Book available. –This text refers to the audio cassette edition of this title

From the Publisher: “This Edwardian social comedy explores love and prim propriety among an eccentric cast of characters assembled in an Italian pensione and in a corner of Surrey, England. A charming young English woman, Lucy Honeychurch, faints into the arms of a fellow Britisher when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Attracted to this man, George Emerson–who is entirely unsuitable and whose father just may be a Socialist–Lucy is soon at war with the snobbery of her class and her own conflicting desires. Back in England she is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor, and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future: she is forced to choose between convention and passion. The enduring delight of this tale of romantic intrigue is rooted in Forster’s colorful characters, including outrageous spinsters, pompous clergymen and outspoken patriots. Written in 1908, A Room With A View is one of E.M. Forster’s earliest and most celebrated works.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

A reader from Corona del Mar, CA , September 22, 1998 : “Charming. This is a charming novel, and absolutely necessary reading if you are going to, or have already been to, Florence. (Although don’t expect Florence to be as charming as is laid out here. It’s a grimy, gritty city now). Forster is a refreshing optimist, even though, “Our life may be just a tiny knot on a thread of endless string,” as he says it, or words to that effect. Having said that, I’m going to commit sacrilege and say that the movie was better. But the book is certainly worth while, too.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

A reader from Berkeley, California, USA , September 21, 1998: “The sheerest joy to read. “A Room With a View” is, I believe, E.M. Forster at his best. His novel is immensely enjoyable to drift into again and again. Forster takes the reader by the hand and gleefully introduces her to a world of wonder and freedom, where all can be truly possible if you only follow your heart.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title from Berkeley, California , August 7, 1998 : “Should be read and re-read. One of Forster’s earliest novels, Room with a View generally lacks the depth and literary importance that his later works justifiably claim. Nonetheless, it is astute, enjoyable, concise, and incredibly funny. A first reading isn’t enough, really; I’ve read through the novel several times, and each time I find a new level of meaning, a new, ever more subtle layer of humor or sadness or pathos. What seems on the surface to be merely a cute story of a delayed romance turns out to be, on further inspection, a witty and relevant critique of English society and latent Victorian values.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title from NY,NY , August 7, 1998: “Passion against the grain. A crafty love story, showing the passion of Victorian times, and how a cross-class love can be the best.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

A reader from Palo Alto, CA , August 6, 1998: “One of my favorites. A very good story about the conflict between what we want to be and what others expect us to be. I liked this quite a bit better than “Howard’s End.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title from Manila, Philippines , April 7, 1998: “The best thing about this book is that it brings to life once again what we humans often forget — our human endeavor is not perfected by the mastery of the intellect alone. It is made full and real by feelings and relationships with humanity. It is in the context of Cecil’s character that we are reminded that we must not get caught up in intellectual pride and mastery of tradtion. Humans and relationships are of primordial importance.” from Australia , March 18, 1998: “Inspiring. This novel has got to be one of the most sweetest, and romantic story that I have ever read. One could almost feel Lucy’s joy for being in Italy, and her torment of trying to keep her feelings hidden. If anyone loves a period romance, this is it.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

A reader , July 5, 1997: “A beautiful love-story. I think the book is totally great. It’s about love that can’t be ignored or stopped and it has a happy ending. I think that one of the things the author tries to say with this book is that you sometimes should do what your feelings tell you to do. Just because a thing has been considered right or wrong for a long time, doesn’t always mean that it actually is. The main character, a young English girl, has a hard time trying to figure out what she really feels inside. She loves but she is not sure if it is right of her to do so. The old English thoughts and beliefs influence her very much, but when she manages to get rid of a few of them, she shows her feelings more openly and is not ashamed of them. I think this book is just as good as the old English classics, a well-written, overwhelming love-story. –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title.

A reader , March 28, 1997: “It’s simply gorgeous! I’ve read the book oh-so-many times and I’ve seen the movie twice. I love both versions to the extreme coz it’s such a gorgeous story with gorgeous sceneries and characters. Everytime I read the book, I become entangled with Lucy’s `muddled’ (to quote Mr. Emerson in the book) emotions. It’s hard not to, coz I for one, wouldn’t want gorgeous George Emerson to slip from her fingers!! –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title.

Machiavelli and His Friends : Their Personal Correspondence by Niccolo MacHiavelli, James B. Atkinson (Translator), David Sices (Editor)
Amazon Price: $48.00
Hardcover – 600 pages (November 1996)
Northern Illinois Univ Pr; ISBN: 0875802109 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.96 x 9.23 x 6.41

The publisher, Northern Illinois University Press , December 19, 1997: “Machiavelli and His Friends is the first complete annotated collection in English of known personal correspondence to and from Niccolo Machiavelli. Spanning the years of Machiavelli’s adult life, from 1497 until his death in 1527, this correspondence between Machiavelli and his friends, colleagues, and compatriots–some of whom were the most influential thinkers of the day–presents a panorama of life, people, and critical events in Renaissance Italy. Arranged chronologically and based on the latest and most authoritative critical Italian edition, this volume includes 257 letters written to Machiavelli and 84 letters written by him. The translators’ introduction, headnotes, and historical annotations illuminate people, places, and events mentioned in the letters. “Specialists in several facets of Renaissance culture will welcome this translation of the letters of the man hailed as the first modern political theorist.” –Library Journal “A marvelous book that gives us, for the first time in English, all the extant personal letters that Machiavelli exchanged with his friends and associates.” –John Najemy, Cornell Univeristy

Public Life in Renaissance Florence (Cornell Paperbacks), by Richard C. Trexler
Amazon Price: $19.95
Paperback Reprint edition (October 1991)
Cornell Univ Pr; ISBN: 0801499798

The Renaissance Man and His Children : Childbirth and Early Childhood in Florence, 1300-1600, by Louis Haas )
Amazon Price: $49.95
Hardcover – 285 pages 1 Ed edition (June 1998)
St Martins Pr (Short); ISBN: 0312175639 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.23 x 8.58 x 5.83

The Sixteen Pleasures, by Robert R. Hellenga
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Hardcover – 327 pages (May 1994)
Soho Press, Inc.; ISBN: 1569470065 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.28 x 9.29 x 5.82


From the Rossano Brazzi International Network: “This novel is highly recommended, both for the story itself, and also for the background information provided on the great floods of 1966. This is the flood about which Rossano filmed a documentary, in the Leather School, and the one he discussed on several occasions, remarking upon the damage done to Lidia’s family home. Excellent reading.”

Literary Fiction and Classics Editor’s Recommended Book: “In 1966, 29-year-old Margot Harrington heads off to Florence, intent on doing her bit to protect its precious books from the great floods–and equally intent on adventure. Serendipity, in the shape of the man she’ll fall in love with, leads her to an abbey run by the most knowing of abbesses and work on its library begins. One day a nun comes upon a shockingly pornographic volume, bound with a prayer book. It turns out to be Aretino’s lost erotic sonnets, accompanied by some rather anatomical engravings. Since the pope had ordered all copies of the Sixteen Pleasures burned, it could be worth a fortune and keep the convent autonomous. The abbess asks Margot to take care of the book and check into its worth: “We have to be cunning as serpents and innocent as doves,” she warns. Soon our heroine finds her identity increasingly “tangled up” with the volume and with Dottor Postiglione, a man with an instinct for happiness–but also one for self-preservation. Margot enjoys the secrecy and the craft (the chapters in which she rebinds the folios are among the book’s finest). Much of the book’s pleasure stems from Robert Hellenga’s easy knowledge, which extends to Italian complexities. Where else would you l earn that, in cases of impotence, legal depositions are insufficient: “Modern couples often take the precaution of sending postcards to each other from the time of their engagement, leaving the message space blank so that it can be filled in later if the couple wishes to establish grounds for an annulment.” Luckily, however, there are also shops that sell old postcards, “along with the appropriate writing instruments and inks.” Though The Sixteen Pleasures is initially in the tradition of American innocent goes abroad to encounter European experience, Hellenga’s depth (and lightness) of characterization and description lift it high above its genre. And what better book than one about loving and loving books?” — This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

Chicago Tribune: “Fascinating entertainment…with a sympathetic heroine, a suspenseful plot, a cast of colorful characters and illuminating meditations on life, art and love.

From Booklist , April 15, 1994: “Margot Harrington, a 29-year-old book conservator, is one of the many Americans who flock to Florence, Italy, to help restore its priceless treasures after the flooding of the Arno in 1966. She begins by volunteering at the Villa I Tatti, but soon, through the offices of an urbane, fiftyish art expert named Sandro Postiglione, she finds herself working and living at a Carmelite convent, helping save its valuable library. One of the books turns out to be an extremely rare volume of Renaissance erotica bound with a book of prayers. The mother superior asks Margot to find a way to sell the volume without the knowledge of church authorities in order to raise money to keep the convent library intact. Thus begins an odyssey that takes Margot to a rare book dealer in Basel, Switzerland, and to Sotheby’s in London, as well as into Dottor Postiglione’s bed. The novel has a few awkward elements, such as the underdeveloped device of Margot’s glamorous double, Margaux. But on the whole it’s a rewarding read, with a witty heroine, a marvelous setting, and lots of fascinating detail about book conservation and the restoration of art.” Mary Ellen Quinn, Copyright© 1994, American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Kirkus Reviews , March 1, 1994: “A wonderfully rich and absorbing story that seems far too assured to be a first novel. Hellenga forms Florentine art, nuns, erotica, and American know-how into a kind of della Robbia arrangement of juicy forbidden fruit. It is the fall of 1966. Florence has been devastated by floods. Margot Harrington, a book conservator from Illinois, joins the crowd of volunteers who descend upon the city to help rescue its art treasures. Margot’s training puts her a notch above the “mud angels,” the unskilled student volunteers who wade into the murky basements of museums and cathedrals. But, as a woman, Margot is not quite accepted among the self-important ranks of male conservators. Forced to find her own way, Margot ends up working in the waterlogged library of a convent, falling in love with an older, married man and also coming, clandestinely, into possession of an extremely rare book, The Sixteen Pleasures, a volume of exquisite erotic drawings and sonnets from the 16th century. After some slightly awkward and unconvincing train-ride scenes at the beginning of the novel, there’s not a false note here. Hellenga knows just how to build a story. The suspense he manages to create in a book auction scene rivals that of any thriller. In the course of mending books in Florence, Margot Harrington is releasing herself from the rigid bindings of her old life, and both processes prove to be absolutely compelling.” — Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Stones of Florence, by Mary McCarthy
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Paperback – 130 pages illustratd edition (September 1987)
Harcourt Brace; ISBN: 0156850818 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.84 x 11.01 x 8.50

Reviews “It becomes evident from the first page of The Stones of Florence that Mary McCarthy loves her subject. Yet hers is the steady love of a long acquaintance, an affection that has deepened from mere infatuation to a steady, clear-eyed regard. In this witty tribute to Florence, Mary McCarthy explores the city’s past and present, in the process offering up a tour that covers everything from a description of oil painting to the remarkable history behind Florence’s many towers. The Stones of Florence is ideal for reading on the plane ride to Italy, but it’s also perfect for armchair travelers, art lovers, and students of the Renaissance.” –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

Tuscans and Their Families : A Study of the Florentine Catasto of 1427 (Yale Series in Economic History) by John Stoye, David Herliny, David Herlihy, Christiane Klapisch-Zuber (Contributor)
Amazon Price: $25.00
Paperback Reprint edition (December 1989)
Yale Univ Pr; ISBN: 0300046111 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.30 x 9.20 x 6.14

Women, Family and Ritual in Renaissance Italy, by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, David Herlihy, Lydia G. Cochrane (Translator)
Amazon Price: $17.00
Paperback Reprint edition (August 1987)
University of Chicago Press; ISBN: 0226439267 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.80 x 8.96 x 5.89

America Was Conceived in Florence : Vespucci, Verrazzano, and Mazzei and Their Contribution to the Conception of the New World, by Giancarlo Masini, Iacopo Gori
Amazon Price: $14.95
Paperback – 230 pages (January 1999)
Marsilio Publishers; ISBN: 1568860609

Angels at the Arno (Imago Mundi Book), by Eric Lindbloom
Amazon Price: $35.00
Hardcover 1 Ed edition (July 1994)
David R Godine; ISBN: 0879239743

Booknews, Inc. , November 1, 1994

A collection of photos made by Lindbloom in Florence between 1979 and 1987, using a Diana camera–virtually a child’s toy with a plastic lens (the story of which is explained in an afterword). The photos have an intriguing strangeness and intimacy. 10×9.25″ Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

Midwest Book Review: “The Florence revealed in Eric Lindbloom’s Angels at the Arno is almost startling in its intimacy and quiet solitude. Lindbloom’s view of Florence (rendered exclusively through the plastic lens of a portable Diana camera – virtually a child’s toy) brings this venerable city to new life and light. With unabashed subjectivity and an offbeat, oneiric sensibility, Lindbloom conveys his sense of an unveiled Florence, filled with views striking for the mystery they contain rather than for the history they suggest. –This text refers to the paperback edition of this title

Avant-Garde Florence : From Modernism to Fascism (Studies in Cultural History), by Walter L. Adamson
Amazon Price: $44.00
Hardcover (December 1993)
Harvard Univ Pr; ISBN: 067405525X

They envisioned a brave new world, and what they got was fascism. As vibrant as its counterparts in Paris, Munich, and Milan, the avant-garde of Florence rose on a wave of artistic, political, and social idealism that swept the world with the arrival of the twentieth century. How the movement flourished in its first heady years, only to founder in the bloody wake of World War I, is a fascinating story, told here for the first time. It is the history of a whole generation’s extraordinary promise – and equally extraordinary failure. The “decadentism” of D’Annunzio, the philosophical ideals of Croce and Gentile, the politics of Italian socialism: all these strains flowed together to buoy the emerging avant-garde in Florence. Walter Adamson shows us the young artists and writers – among them the poet Giovanni Papini, the painter Ardengo Soffici, and the cultural critic Giuseppe Prezzolini – caught up in the intellectual ferment of their time. He depicts a generation rejecting provincialism, seeking spiritual freedom in Paris, and ultimately blending the modernist style found there with their own sense of toscanita, or “being Tuscan.” In their journals – Leonardo, La Voce, Lacerba, and L’Italia futurista – and in their cafe life at the Giubbe Rosse, we see the avant-garde of Florence as citizens of an intellectual world peopled by the likes of Picasso, Bergson, Sorel, Unamuno, Pareto, Weininger, and William James. We witness their mounting commitment to the ideals of regenerative violence and watch their existence become increasingly frenzied as war approaches. Finally, Adamson shows us the ultimate betrayal of the movement’s aspirations as its cultural politics help catapult Italy into war and prepare the way for Mussolini’s rise to power.

Corruption : Ethics and Power in Florence, 1600-1770 by Jean-Claude Waquet, Linda McCall (Translator),
Amazon Price: $35.00
Hardcover (March 1992)
Pennsylvania State Univ Pr (Txt); ISBN: 0271008105

Dominion of the Eye : Urbanism, Art, and Power in Early Modern Florence , by Marvin Trachtenberg
Amazon Price: $65.00
Hardcover (November 1997)
Cambridge Univ Pr (Short); ISBN: 0521555027

The Elect Nation : The Savonarolan Movement in Florence 1494-1545 (Oxford-Warburg Studies), by Lorenzo Polizzotto
Amazon Price: $127.00
Hardcover (January 1995)
Clarendon Pr; ISBN: 0199206007


The Elect Nation is the first comprehensive study of the religious, political and cultural movement inspired by Savonarola. Based on a thorough examination of the archival material and manuscript sources, the book argues that the followers of Savonarola exercised a profound influence on every facet of Florentine life during the important period of the city’s transition from republic to principate. It is the author’s contention that their ideology and activities provide the key to understanding not only the Florentine Republic, but also the nature of contemporary political debate and the characteristics of the emerging Medicean Principate. A major preoccupation of the book is to show how the Savonarolans as a group managed to survive the execution of their leaders and to regain their strength and influence. The author traces their networks of support and analyses the way in which they infiltrated and restructured existing Florentine institutions to their advantage. He also reveals how they exploited spiritual counselling and lay and religious patronage to expand their influence and, in particular, how they ensured the survival of their movement by forming an anti-Medicean alliance of republican forces in Florence.”

Florence : A Literary Companion, by Francis King
Amazon Price: $24.95
Paperback (August 1992)
John Murray Pubs Ltd; ISBN: 0719550866

Ritual Brotherhood in Renaissance Florence (Population and Social Structure. Advances in Historical Demography), by Ronald F.E Weissman
Amazon Price: $69.95
Hardcover (December 1981)
Academic Pr; ISBN: 0127444807

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