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The Duomo Completed! 23/12/2010

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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I write to you on the great festa day. The bells have just been ringing, all over the city, in token that the Duomo is unveiled; and the work begun six hundred years ago is finished. I am writing to you alone, here in my little room. Edwige has gone off for a first sight of her beloved church; she is entirely wild, and, after the many troubles of her life, behaves as if she were not more than sixteen. I had meant to stay at home until the excitement was over, having little heart for any sort of gaiety after all that I have lost the past winter; but she, after trying every sort of argument yesterday to induce me to go and look at the decorations in the Piazza, finally said in a grieved tone, ‘If the Signorina did not go to look at the Duomo, shewould not be a true Florentine’, which terrible threat finally sent me down there, though the streets swarming with people like a hive of bees. But it was a grand sight!

It seemed as if all the towns in the neighbourhood had emptied themselves into Florence, and everybody so proud and happy, it was a pleasure to see. Even the poorest tried to dress a little better than usual, just because they were Florentines, and this was their festa (and Edwige put on her new silk handkerchief, that she never wore before, ‘for love of the Duomo’). Banners on all the houses, gay draperies from windows and balconies; the palaces hung out their rich silks and brocades, and the poor always managed to find a bright coloured table-cloth, or something to look gay. I went into the church; it was hung with thousands of candles, prepared for today’s illumination. People were passing in and out, but there was no service going on. Many were on their knees, giving thanks, I suppose. But I will not lose time in writing what you will see in all the papers. There was much that was touching, and solemn, even a little sad. Especially so to me, the revival of the old times, never dead in Florence shown by many of the shopkeepers placing over their doors the banners once belonging to their particular arts. It brought more tears than smiles, to see the grand old banner of the wool trade hanging over a pile of blankets and coarse flannel, at a shop door in Borgo S. Lorenzo because it was not done in a masquerading spirit, but one knew the dealer in woollens wanted to believe, and make others believe, in his relationship to the great people of the old time. And other things were altogether gay, among the rest to see the visitors from the country (some of them in the most extraordinary dresses; I saw two young girls in dresses, evidently home-made, of the red Turkey cotton generally used for linings to quilts) enjoying their very light meals in the open air, at the doors of cafes and restaurants, decorated with plants in full blossom.

Bonciani borrowed all the best of the plants on the terrace, to make what he called a ‘prospettiva’ at the door of the hotel. A young girl yesterday in my room made the rather singular remark, ‘How hard it must be for people to die while the festas are going on!’ To which Edwige replied, ‘It does not make any difference; people have to die just the same. But there will never be such another festa for a hundred years. I suppose then there will be a centennial because now people have centennials for everything; but we shall not be here to see it.’ She sighed at the idea that we should not see the centennial of the Duomo, then her face suddenly brightened and she said, ‘But perhaps they have centennials in the other world. And perhaps we shall see it if we have a good place there.’



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