Last Friday, I saw the stars again. In the pitch black of the Tuscan hills, the constellations studded the night sky. Overwhelmed, I couldn’t look away; months had passed since the sacrosanct brightness of Orion’s Belt and the Seven Sisters had illuminated my retina.
My Guide and I, our journey to pursue
To the bright world, upon this road concealed
Made entrance, and no thought of resting knew.
He first, I second, still ascending held
Our way until the fair celestial train
Was through an opening round to me revealed:
And, issuing thence, we saw the stars again.
-Inferno XXXIV, 133-139
Dante Alighieri’s cantos will be front and centre in the coming months as, like Dante and Virgil, we inch from our personal infernos into a new dawn. 2021 will be a year of learning, resolution and resumption. The long winter ahead is about edification as Dante guides us through the cold into the spring, the medieval poet’s verses inspiring self-awareness as medical professionals gather pace with the vaccination campaign—over half a million Italians have been inoculated to date, the highest number in the European Union. Most importantly, 2021 marks the seven hundredth anniversary of Dante’s death and Florence has plenty planned to commemorate its exiled son.
The Florentine remains steadfast because of your generosity, enabling our magazine to weather the storm and help others. Subscriptions have doubled—many readers have understandably decided to have TF delivered to their door during the pandemic—and twice as many people have signed to our free weekly newsletter. We start the year with a refreshed page design (hope you like it!), new books in the works from The Florentine Press, and plans to improve user website experience.
Informing, inspiring and entertaining continue to be our primary focus. Please tell us what you’re up to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s to a happier, more hopeful 2021,
The January 2021 cover
This month’s cover image is a detail of the 1465 fresco by Domenico di Michelino, The Divine Comedy Illuminating Florence, which can be found on the north wall inside the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. According to documents, the painting was commissioned on January 30, 1465 and was designed by Alesso Baldovinetti. It shows Dante Alighieri presenting his famous poem to the city of Florence. Views of Hell, Mount Purgatory and Paradise all appear in the background, as described in the poem. We are grateful to Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore – Duomo di Firenze for granting us permission to print this engrossing portrayal of Dante’s Florence.
New for 2021: readers can now purchase single pdf issues (5 euro) of The Florentine without being obliged to subscribe for longer periods of time. Click here to buy the January 2021 issue.
What’s in the January issue of The Florentine
Editor’s letter: Seeing the stars again / Helen Farrell
Community news: A new priest at St. James Episcopal Church
Restoration news: Hall of Maps at the Palazzo Vecchio + Friends of Florence
2021: The year ahead + 700 Dante
Interview: Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence
Best events this January + online community events
Education: Lessons learned and lessons pending / Europass Teacher Academy
Valentine’s Day Gifts: The Promise of Florence, thanks to the generosity of David Bach and Alatia Bradley Bach
Manufacturing: The Tuscany you don’t know
Drinks: Vermouth from Tuscany
Historical women: Annalena everywhere / Dawn Cumming
Interview with an artist: Asking the right questions with Rebecca Olsen / Jane Farrell
Florence in New York: Life in Staten Island did not prove easy for Florentine Antonio Meucci / Christine Contrada
Interview: Nirav Tolia, founder of Next Door / Helen Farrell
Olive oil: Chef Andrea Perini’s “raw passion” recipe
Editor’s picks: food heroes / Helen Farrell
Movies: In mourning for her city / Hershey Felder
The final say: Felix Le Monnier / Deirdre Pirro