A legacy of 700 years may seem like a lot to live up to, but at least you can get started with the right tools to set you up for success. 2021 is the year to fully immerse yourself in all things Dante. With your finely crafted pen poised over your leather-bound notebook, let the creative genius of the Supreme Poet imbue your very own masterpiece with Florentine excellence.
Before you plunge into your own artistic endeavor, perhaps you’d like to learn more about the man himself. Alexandra Lawrence’s The Divine Dante online course hosted by The British Institute is a six-week guided reading of Dante’s epic work, expertly delivered to make the overwhelming text more manageable and casting light on the many layers of meaning.
Starting on March 9, details can be found at theflr.net/divinedantebi.
Already made your way through the three canticas? Alexandra is also running Dante and the Visual Arts, a three-session course looking at artistic culture during Dante’s day and how it made its way into his work. The classes will be held on March 11, 18 and 25, providing a visual feast to accompany your deep dive.
Find out more at www.formasideris.exploreflorence.it.
For little ones
Little ones looking to take their first steps into the literary masterpiece will be entertained and informed by Dante For Fun, a book series available in English that takes young learners through the epic poem with illustrations and a storytelling style to suit. Split into three editions covering Hell, Purgatory and Paradise separately, each book costs 12 euro with words by Cinzia Bigazzi, illustrations by Valentina Canocchi and published by Certaldo-based publishing house, Federighi Editori.
Buy the books on www.federighieditori.it.
Creativity is ensured with a limited edition print (80 euro) on smooth paper stock of the entire ‘Divine Comedy’ featuring handwritten calligraphy by Betty Soldi with the last lines of the Inferno: “E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle”. The unique calligraphic style can be further explored with her Inkspired book and Inksperiences, instructing you how to send your pen swirling and dancing across the page.
Have a look at www.bettysoldi.com.
Another object for inspiration is a papier mache mask of Dante himself, and really, who better than the epic poet to give you some motivation when you’re in need of a creative push? Sardinian Agostino Dessì’s portrait masks stem from the Venetian tradition of emulating public persons. Decorative additions such as fabric, lace and flowers add to the elaborate casts. You could even have a go at making your own with a mask-making workshop by Agostino’s daughter, Alice. Agostino Dessì’s Studio d’Arte can be found at via Faenza 72r.
More information at www.alicemasks.com.
Florentine street artist Blub offers a more modern version of the master. You may have spotted his scuba-diving Dante on the city streets, but you can also have a 30 by 30-centimetre canvas of his hand-retouched interpretation of Dante take pride of place for your own walls.
Priced at 195 euro, purchase this contemporary Renaissance man from www.mio-concept.com.
For your writing
You’re finally in position, ready to create your magnum opus, but what notebook could possibly aspire to merit the honour of your best work? A leather- or paper-bound book by artisan Erin Ciulla at Il Torchio is more than up to the task with skilfully crafted handmade creations that speak volumes. With options including marbled paper, coloured canvas, leather, Fabriano paper or even their own handmade paper, the fine-tuned craftsmanship behind every page leads to much more than simple stationery.
Located at via de’ Bardi 17, pop by or see the website www.legatoriailtorchio.com.
The right pen
Beloved bookstore Todo Modo also has an extensive stationery selection to suit all budding Dantistas with their notebooks, pens and other writing accoutrements.
Stock up at www.todomodo.org.
Parchment + ink
If you’re seeking to go even more old-school (computer keyboards have no place here!), Dante would be proud of the parchment from Zecchi. Used for writing until the introduction of paper in the Middle Ages, the experience of signing your name on something so exquisite is paradisiacal. With original goatskin parchments selling from 80.50 euro for seven square feet up to 115 euro for 10 square feet, these are precious products for supreme works. Explore the amply stocked art supply store at via dello Studio 19r and on www.zecchi.it.
Then there’s the all-important ink. Il Papiro at via Camillo Cavour 49 and five other locations around Florence produces 30ml ink bottles for 17 euro to birth your grand ideas. Also available on www.ilpapirofirenze.eu.
And stylish protection
Ready to confidently stride into the world having begun your own epic journey, what essential face mask will you choose to protect yourself and others? Cosmic-like prints and swirling scenes bedeck Giulio Giannini e Figlio’s classy offerings, ensuring that your face covering is as expertly crafted as the work you’re creating. Triple-layered fabric masks with adjustable ear straps feature printed marble motifs taken from their collection of marbled papers that the family has been hand decorating since 1856. The artisan papermaking firm is run by the sixth generation of the Giannini family, Maria. The masks are 16 euro each, purchasable at Piazza Pitti 37r, or www.giuliogiannini.com.
The advertising on these two pages has been generously gifted to businesses by The Florentine readers David Bach and Alatia Bradley Bach.
Join our efforts to support local companies: theflr.net/toflorencewithlove
This article was published in Issue 276 of The Florentine.