Wednesday, 12 September 2012
see this third leader in the Guardian
better something than nothing, but don't jump to think this token presence does justice to women artists' contribution to the movement
Sunday, 9 September 2012
From In A Tuscan Garden, published anonymously 1902
Some friends, living at a considerable distance from where we were, wrote to us, saying that they thought we might find what we required in an old villa in their neighbourhood which had just been put in order – Italian order – for letting. Accordingly we left home early one morning to inspect this particular house, and to explore the neighbourhood generally. The place we had come so far to see was a rambling, old-fashioned farm-house, situated on a hill; the ascent would soon have knocked to pieces woman or beast, and it was away from any main road – it would have been admirable for a man and his wife wishing to rear a family of boys and girls in a back-woods kind of fashion, but we were not prepared to accept that kind of existence. Its one merit was the extremely small rent asked for a whole floor of good rooms; but, as I ran my eye over them, and took stock of all that would have to be done before these were habitable according to English ideas, I felt that the cheapness was of the kind likely to be very expensive in the long run, - so, much regretting the lost time and trouble, we prepared to return to our own part of the country. But, thinking it a pity not to vary our route, we struck, rather at random, through various fields and lanes, exploring more than one tenement as we went along, and finally arriving, very hot and tired, at a small village of a not very inviting aspect.
In my time, in the “good old days”, the fashion for English people to inhabit country-houses in the neighbourhood of Florence was almost unknown. Here and there an Anglo-Italian, settled in Italy for business or other reasons, might own a property on which he would spend a few weeks in summer. But the English in those days had not spread themselves over the face of the land, as they have since done, consequently I was quite ignorant of the lay of the land, or of where we were, or how far distant from Florence. A few steps ahead of us some large iron gates stood open, disclosing a long avenue thickly planted with trees. I pointed this out to my companion and suggested our exploring it, to see what might be found within. She, being very tired, and somewhat cross, protested loudly: “I cannot think,” said she, “what makes you want to go there. It is evidently private ground; no one else does such things.”
Saturday, 8 September 2012
Far and away the best thing about these Games has been the amazing springy legs now used by those who’ve lost their own. It’s not just that the athletes can now run 100m in a few seconds but that they can stroll, skip and apparently dance with as much if not more agility than the able-bodied.
I’d never seen these bendy, bouncy blades before and hope they are as easy to use (and available) in everyday life as on the track – and that those who invented / developed them enjoy global acclaim. Sport is of course A Good Thing, but this is truly astounding.
Monday, 3 September 2012
From In A Tuscan Garden, published anonymously 1902
So we missed the chance of becoming landed proprietors. It was one of the very few places I have ever seen that I wished to possess, but it was in a singularly lonely and unprotected situation, and some years later, when socialistic troubles and disturbances were more pronounced in that district than in any other part of Italy, I felt that it was perhaps fortunate that we were not in such an isolated position, and in a neighbourhood so renowned for the lawless violence of its inhabitants. All our friends had remonstrated at the idea of this retreat from British civilization; and everyone begged us to look about in Tuscany, in the neighbourhood of Florence, before coming to a decision. We settled ourselves for the summer in the ground floor of a wonderful old villa, near Michael Angelo’s Fortezza, dating back to the days of the Republic, belonging to a Romagnuolo, a brother-in-law of Aurelio Saffi.
An extraordinarily mixed group of people tenanted this house, which had various outlets, and while one door opened on a steep Costa, another, far above it, led into a charming garden from which our apartment was entered. In one corner a widow with a family of daughters had a quartiere. The girls were umbrella-makers by trade, and formed a picturesque group at work in their small courtyard. A post-office clerk had a bedroom in another part of the house, a lucky thing for us, as he used to bring up our letters and papers late at night, when he returned from his bureau. This worthy made a futile attempt as a watery grave, owing to some unsuccessful love-affair, but the only results were a good ducking, and our landlord getting into a rage at his folly and turning him out. On the floor above us lived an Italian officer with his wife and child, and in an old tower on the top of all dwelt the padrone di casa and his foster brother, who attended to all his wants. The old gentleman dressed himself every day at five o’clock, and departed to his café, where he invariably spent his evenings.
A goat roamed about the garden, and lovely white pigeons used to fly in and out of the big vaulted chamber which was our drawing room. I took this quartiere for the summer months, just to have some kind of pied-à-terre. My companion was going over to England, and I felt that if I was bound to be dull, it was better to be so within reach of books and one or two old friends, than alone in a mountain retreat.
Delightful as this place was as a summer abode, we felt it to be hopelessly unsuitable for a permanent residence for Inglesi like ourselves, requiring warmth and comfort indoors, for we well knew how piercingly cold the Tuscan winters could be. So we began to hunt about in the hot June days, resisting all the offers of our old padrone di casa : - he would give up his own sunny rooms in the tower, - and build an inner staircase to them from our apartment, anything, in short, in the brick and mortar line, if we would only remain. No Italian landlord can bear to see so desirable a possession as an English tenant leave his house without making an effort for retain him or her as the case may be.