Make Italy Yours

A blog of Italian Culture and Nature

Tag: Florence

Writing in Italy


by Alexa Schnee

Writing in Italy has come to be an experience that I will never forget as an author. I have a book project that is set in Italy, and I had a taste of what it was like being an author in a foreign country when I was researching it three years ago when I was living in Venice. The book is about Casanova, the 16th century libertine who stole possibly thousands of women’s hearts. While that project is finished and going through the self-editing process, I am also working on another novel. Although it is set in Montana in America, which was where I grew up, I would not have had the opportunity to work on it has I have if I hadn’t come to Italy. Distance from the setting you are writing about can often be a good thing—inspiring new creativity and thoughts.

I often come up with some of my best ideas when taking a walk or run, and Florence has offered the perfect place for me to explore. Writing can be an extremely frustrating process, but usually getting out and seeing something new helps to formulate a new way to approach a specific scene or dialogue strain that might be troubling me. In America, unless you live in a large city with access to a lot of different things to do, it’s hard to feel as though you are gaining a cultural experience—in Italy, taking a stroll through the streets is enough.

Whether I take some time to peruse the different museums Florence has to offer or journey to a town not so far away like Pisa, there is always something to do or see. I have noticed a huge difference in my writing since arriving. Everything I put on paper seems to have a lot more depth, something every writer strives for in his or her work. To have been able to reach a new maturity in who I am as a writer could have been achieved somewhere else, but to say that my writing grew here is a privilege.

While I head back to the States in about a month, I am planning on returning in the fall to continue my writing and to travel around Europe and Italy. I’ve come to need this place in order to produce my best writing, and nothing brings me more joy than knowing I will return to a country that now feels like a second home—a location that continues to inspire and offer something new every day.


Alexa Schnee has always wanted to be a writer. She loves the smell of the bookstore, because nothing in the world smells exactly like it. When she isn’t writing, she’s murdering some musical instrument or hitting the road. She will never, ever like math and will always love dancing in the Montana rain. She is a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, and currently spends her days traveling the world and drinking too much coffee. Her first novel was released April 2012.


A Conversation with Young Author Alex Schnee


Meet You in Florence…

Dante as a politician



by Mauro Savino

During the first half of his life Dante Alighieri was an important politician of Florence, his hometown. He left it in 1302, because of the allegations of the Black Guelphs (sided with the Pope), the party opposed to the one in which Dante was engaged, namely that of the White Guelphs (sided with the Emperor). Thus the Black Guelphs, thanks to the complicity of Boniface VIII, who wanted to extend his domain on Florence, and the King Philip IV of France, get the power in the city and condemned Dante to the exile for two years and to pay a huge fine but the poet refused to pay. In fact he didn’t consider himself guilty at all. Finally he was condemned to the perpetual exile and if he had returned to Florence without paying the fine, he would have sentenced to death.

The story of Dante’s exile is quite complicated and refers to the bloody struggle between Papacy and Empire for the political power in Italy. It marked the end of communal era and prepared the advent of the Signoria.

In this scenario we focus on some Dante’s attitude as a politician before his exile.

In 1295 Dante proposed a mitigation of the Ordinances of Justice created by Giano della Bella. Also in 1300, after a battle between the White and Black Guelphs, the Priors of Florence, including Dante, decided to condemn to the exile eight members of both parties. Among the White Guelphs there is Guido Cavalcanti, friend of Dante and his political ally. In another circumstance Dante opposed to Boniface VIII who wanted soldiers at his disposal allocated to Florence.

On one hand if we try to see these facts as a whole we may say Dante was probably concerned for the nobility to which he belonged, so he thought the White Guelphs were more willing to find a solution to the conflict between magnates and peoples that made difficult the position of the nobility itself.

On the other hand, Dante was certainly interested in a preservation of the communal liberty, against the temporal power of Papacy. Also we may see in his attitude a sort of Franciscan spirit that postulated the necessity of a Spiritual Church.

Dante dreamed a political era in which Papacy and Empire were distinct in their prerogatives and the cities were ruled by a democratic and rigorous government. He decided to condemn his friend Cavalcanti for the good of his city despite his personal interests.

Finally he gave us a great example of a politician who has both a practical attitude and a moral depth.

Unfortunately the contemporary political world has forgotten this lesson.







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