In the 1st C. AD, Christian converts began to invade Florentia. The Christians were persecuted—thrown to lions in the amphitheater—on and off throughout the third century A.D. But by 313 a bishop was living safely in Florence; it’s likely that the first Christian cathedral was built around this time too.
The Church of San Salvador was the name of the edifice, and its location was quite near if not directly under what is now the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in the Piazza del Duomo.
Sandwiched between the first cathedral and the last was Santa Reparata, a church named for a twelve-year-old female martyr. The young saint was said to have appeared in the middle of a 5th-century battle between a host of Vandals and Goths and the citizens of Fiesole.
Santa Reparata suddenly arrived on the spot with a bloodred banner and a lily in her hand. Miraculously, following close behind her was the Roman general Stilicho with a fresh legion of troops. The barbarians fought a losing battle, and the Florentines built a new cathedral in remembrance of the girl’s military assistance.
That was exactly my goal recently, longing to go back, even just for a couple of hours, to a simpler time when better men were President of the USA and the world seemed full of possibilities.
That’s a lot to ask of a film, but I found one when I stumbled upon It Started in Naples. Starring Clark Gable and Sophia Loren, and set in gorgeous southern Italy, what could be better?
Gable is perfect for his role in the movie and Loren is, well, Loren. Thanks to the advancement of women that has happened in the past 60 years, the silly woman Loren plays is a thing of the past. I must admit I cringed a few times with the actions and words required for her part.
I am able to overlook those weaknesses for the chance to travel, vicariously, to Naples and environs. The child actor steals the show, as does the scenery.
Photographed here is a beautifully-dressed Alice Austen:
Before Diane Arbus and Helen Levitt, there was Austen, one of the earliest female photographers in the country, who produced more than 8,000 images over the course of a long life that began in 1866.
She was, additionally, a landscape designer, a cyclist, an expert tennis player and the first woman on her native Staten Island to own a car. She took her camera everywhere — documenting immigrant communities in New York, street life, lawn tennis matches, her friends, parties, interiors. She often lugged around equipment weighing as much as 50 pounds.
It wasn’t uncommon for early women explorers to have a taste for solitude. Take Marianne North, the Englishwoman who in the 1800s circumnavigated the globe unaccompanied, spending thirteen years traveling and skirting Victorian convention.
Her paintings of flowers and landscapes hang at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, outside central London.
In her autobiography she recounts her travels, which she didn’t begin until she was forty.
In Nainital in the Himalayas in India’s Uttarakhand state, she liked sitting in the sun.
In Philadelphia, she walked the parks and Zoological Gardens enjoying idle days.
In the Bunya Mountains of Queensland, Australia, she said she enjoyed “my entire solitude through the grand forest alone.” Today, a genus of tree and several plant species are named for her.**