In Augusta, Georgia, where I live, everything runs on Masters time, i.e., around our little golf tournament held the first full week of April every year. For this reason, students in Augusta have their Spring Break later than almost everyone else in the U.S.
We love everything about the Masters and we usually stay in town, but this year during Tournament Week we are in Italy on a trip with our son Jonathan and daughter-in-law Brooke! Brooke planned everything, and we have seen many of the great sights in Florence, including:
as well as spending a day hiking in La Cinque Terre, the beautiful setting of five tiny towns perched on the hillsides over the sunny, sparkling waters of the Mediterranean.
I’ve wanted to visit Italy ever since I took a comparative literature course as a freshman at the University of Georgia. We studied several epic poems, one of which was Dante Allighieri’s Divine Comedy from the early Renaissance. Until my professor uttered the name, “Bay-ah-TRRRREE-chay,” I had only ever heard the southern pronunciation of the name Beatrice, “Bee-AT-tris.” Italian transformed this name into something magical and musical. I fell head-over-heels in love with everything Italian, especially the language. ❤
With his Divine Comedy, Dante defined the standard Italian language. Up to that point, Italy, still a jumble of independent city states, had no unified language. Each locale had its own dialect. Latin was the only acceptable language for literature.
But Dante believed that literature should speak in the language of the people to express Italian culture, experience, stories, and ideas. He combined his native Tuscan with other regional dialects to create the rich and beautiful language we know as Italian.
We have seen so many wondrous sights and eaten so much amazing food in Florence, and now we are heading out into the Tuscan countryside to spend a few days on an olive farm agriturismo. But early this morning we walked back into the heart of Florence so I could take some pictures in front of the Uffizi Gallery, where there is a collection of marble statues of famous and influential men of Florence. One is a statue of the father of the language of his people, Dante Allighieri. While we took our pictures, we could hear a multitude of Italians communicating in Dante’s lyrical language as they went about their day.
Experiencing Italy, I have had my expectations vastly exceeded. I now know without a doubt that Italian food is the most delicious food on earth, Florentine art and architecture is the most gorgeous on earth, Tuscany is the most Eden-like place on earth, and Italian is the most beautiful language on earth.