Filmmaker David Battistella moved to Florence from Canada earlier this year to pursue his dream: writing and producing a feature film based on Ross King's 2000 book Brunelleschi's Dome, about the life of Filippo Brunelleschi and the building of Florence's cupola. This column, which began with TF 149, chronicles Battistella's pursuit of his dream, including anecdotes of his new life in Florence and his efforts to finance and launch his ambitious project. He also shares his experience of being a ‘reverse immigrant,' an Italian born abroad who returns to an Italy that is vastly different from the one his parents left in the 1950s.
Fillipo Brunelleschi was a genius. There is no doubt about it. Very little is written about him, so it's hard to get beyond the 'stories' and find out what the man was really like. So many interesting threads need to be examined and, strand by strand, he appears and disappears, a ghost that is left in our memory.
In my quest into Brunelleschi's mind, I discovered that he was a goldsmith who began to apprentice at the age of 14 in a Florentine bottega (workshop), where he learned how to design and mold metal. At the time, the larger artisan workshops were in all in proximity to the church of Santa Maria del Fiore and Opera del Duomo. The piazza was a hotbed of creative activity and people who worked with their hands.