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The Miracles of Prato

by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz

A vibrant and enthralling historical novel about art and passion, The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz brings Italy in the era of the Medici to glorious life—as it tells the story of an illicit love affair between the renowned painter Fra Filippo Lippi and his muse, a beautiful convent novitiate. A magnificent blend of fact, historical color, emotion, and invention, The Miracles of Prato is a novel that will delight the many fans of Tracy Chavalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue.

Oil and Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo

by Stephanie Storey

From 1501 to 1505, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome 50-year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-twenties, desperate to make a name for himself.

Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he returns to Florence and wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all time: David. Even though his impoverished family shuns him for being an artist, he is desperate to support them. Living at the foot of his misshapen block of marble, Michelangelo struggles until the stone finally begins to speak. Meanwhile, Leonardo’s life is falling apart: he loses the hoped-for David commission; he can’t seem to finish any project; he is obsessed with his ungainly flying machine; he almost dies in war; his engineering designs disastrously fail; and he is haunted by a woman he has seen in the market—a merchan’’s wife, whom he is finally commissioned to paint. Her name is Lisa, and she becomes his muse. Leonardo despises Michelangelo for his youth and lack of sophistication. Michelangelo both loathes and worships Leonardo’s genius. Oil and Marble is the story of their nearly forgotten rivalry. Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive, and has entered with extraordinary empathy into the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters. The book is an art history thriller.

The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli

by Alyssa Palombo

“In the tradition of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Palombo has married fine art with romantic historical fiction in this lush and sensual interpretation of Medici Florence, artist Sandro Botticelli, and the muse that inspired them all.” – Booklist

A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th-century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he belongs to the powerful Medici family’s favored circle. Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence—most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici—become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus. Alyssa Palombo’s The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence vividly captures the dangerous allure of the artist and muse bond with candor and unforgettable passion.

A Tabernacle for the Sun (The Botticelli Trilogy Book 1)

by Linda Proud

Since its first publication in 1997, A Tabernacle for the Sun has met rapturous response from readers and reviewers and has become a classic travel companion for anyone going to Tuscany, as recommended by Lonely Planet Guide to Florence and Tuscany: “The historical detail … is exemplary and [it’s] a cracking good read.” This book draws the reader into the Renaissance, to walk the streets of Florence, meet its famous men, loiter awhile in Botticelli’s workshop and see one of the world’s greatest paintings grow from first sketches through to finished panel, even as daggers are drawn and blood begins to spill. Freedom – is it Florence without the Medici, or a condition of the soul? This is the question facing Tommaso de’ Maffei, an apprentice scribe who cannot forgive Lorenzo for sacking his native city of Volterra. But if he would join the Platonic Academy and take the journey of the soul, he must reconcile himself to Lorenzo. Meanwhile his family draws him into a conspiracy against the Medici. To avoid the turmoil, both inner and outer, he takes refuge in the painter’s workshop where his friend, Filippino, is an apprentice.

Pallas and the Centaur (The Botticelli Trilogy Book 2)

by Linda Proud

Following the Pazzi Conspiracy, Florence finds itself at war with Rome and Naples. Lorenzo de’ Medici, whose brother was murdered by the Pazzi, has no doubt that he has God on his side. His wife, Clarice, is not so sure. Roman-born and pious, she is in every way a medieval woman and believes that the troubles besetting the family are due to Lorenzo’s ‘heresy’, that is, his Platonism. Lorenzo sends her to safety, under the protection of Angelo Poliziano. Powerless against her husband, Clarice sets out to destroy the poet.
 The domestic conflicts reflect – in fact are intimately connected with – world affairs, because as Lorenzo’s marriage falls apart, so does his hold on the power-politics of Florence and Italy. Events move to dramatic conclusions that explode each character’s beliefs and certainties.
 The war is not just between Florence and Rome but is a battle between the medieval world and the Renaissance, between superstitious Christianity and Christian Platonism, between faith and reason, between a woman and a man. It is the battle of Juno and Zeus.

The Rebirth of Venus (The Botticelli Trilogy Book 3)

by Linda Proud

The Rebirth of Venus is the last part of The Botticelli Trilogy, following A Tabernacle for the Sun and Pallas and the Centaur. Set in the 1480s and ’90s, it tells the story of murder, not only of the leading men of the age, but of the age itself, the Renaissance dying in Savonarola’s bonfires. Tommaso de’ Maffei was charged with the task of taking the Platonic wisdom to England, but in England he finds he has lost touch with the truth of his philosophy, and he returns to Italy in the early 16th century to find what, if anything, survives from the golden age he lived through.

Fire in the City: Savonarola and the Struggle for the Soul of Renaissance Florence

by Lauro Martines

A gripping and beautifully written narrative that reads like a novel, Fire in the City presents a compelling account of a key moment in the history of the Renaissance, illuminating the remarkable man who dominated the period, the charismatic Girolamo Savonarola. Lauro Martines, whose decades of scholarship have made him one of the most admired historians of Renaissance Italy, here provides a remarkably fresh perspective on Savonarola, the preacher and agitator who flamed like a comet through late 15th-century Florence. The Dominican friar has long been portrayed as a dour, puritanical demagogue who urged his followers to burn their worldly goods in “the bonfire of the vanities.” But as Martines shows, this is a caricature of the truth – the version propagated by the wealthy and powerful who feared the political reforms he represented. Here, Savonarola emerges as a complex and subtle man, both a religious and a civic leader who inspired an outpouring of political debate in a city newly freed from the tyranny of the Medici. In the end, the volatile passions he unleashed – and the powerful families he threatened – sent the friar to his own fiery death. But the fusion of morality and politics that he represented would leave a lasting mark on Renaissance Florence. For the many readers fascinated by histories of Renaissance Italy–such as Brunelleschi’s Dome or Galileo’s Daughter, and Martines’s acclaimed April Blood, Fire in the City offers a vivid portrait of one of the most memorable characters from that dazzling era.

Life of Galileo

by Bertolt Brecht, John Willett (Editor, Translator)

Galileo ranks alongside Mother Courage and Mr. Puntila as one of Brecht’s most intensely alive, human, and complex characters. In Life of Galileo, the great Renaissance scientist is in a brutal struggle for freedom from authoritarian dogma. Unable to satisfy his appetite for scientific investigation, he comes into conflict with the Inquisition and must publicly renounce his theories, though in private he goes on working on his revolutionary ideas.

Made in Florence: A Travel Guide to Fabrics, Frames, Jewelry, Leather Goods, Maiolica, Paper, Woodcrafts & More (Laura Morelli’s Authentic Arts)

by Laura Morelli

Buyer Beware: Florence is full of tourist traps and knockoffs passed off as authentic. Do you know how to tell the treasures from the trash? In Florence, it’s not easy. This is true now more than ever before, as increasing numbers of souvenirs flood in, imported from overseas and passed off as authentic. There is no substitute for an educated buyer. Laura Morelli leads you to the city’s most authentic arts–the centuries-old trades of leather working, wood turning, silk spinning, and other traditions. Wouldn’t you rather support authentic Florentine master artisans than foreign importers looking to turn a quick profit? Laura Morelli leads you beyond the souvenir shops for an immersive cultural experience that you won’t find in any other guidebook. This indispensable guide includes practical tips for locating the most authentic goods in one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. Packed with useful information on pricing, quality, and value, and with a comprehensive resource guide, Laura Morelli s Authentic Arts: Florence is the perfect guide for anyone wanting to bring home the unique traditions of the birthplace of the Renaissance.

 

In Other Words

by Jhumpa Lahiri (Author), Ann Goldstein (Translator)

In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story—of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her. Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world. There, she begins to read, and to write—initially in her journal—solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice. Presented in a dual-language format, this is a wholly original book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Vladimir Nabokov: a startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.