Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

City of the Dead II

When Vesuvius erupted on August 24, 79 CE, the prosperous Roman city of Pompeii was engulfed in volcanic ash, becoming a graveyard to those of its fleeing inhabitants who choked to death before they could escape and were buried where they fell. The city and its dead inhabitants remained undisturbed for 1,600 years.

Photographs by Passante.


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Rio nell’Elba

This desolate cemetery is outside Rio nell’Elba, on the island where Napoleon lived out his exile. I remember Rio from many, many years ago as very poor and somewhat bleak and unfriendly—very different in atmosphere from Portoferraio, the lively little capital city of the island. Things have looked up for Rio in the years since my visit. The village now has its own Web site and apparently has a good tourist business judging from the hotels and restaurants listed.

Photograph by Passante.

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Tomb of an Exile

Dante Alighieri spent the last years of his life in Ravenna, exiled from Florence. I synopsized the circumstances of his exile and showed his monument in Florence’s Santa Croce church on February 5.

Dante rests in this tomb in Ravenna. The oil for the eternal flame that burns at his grave is supplied by the city of Florence.

Photograph by Passante.

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In the Springtime of Life


In the springtime of life
daughter of Luigi and Rosa Calamai.
A young lady of good and modest temperament
and virtuous and religious feelings,
she was the love of her family,
and February 9 1850
after a long and wearing illness,
the sweet kiss of the Savior
took her at the age of 18.

Grief-stricken and weeping parents,
mourning sisters,
your sweetest Elisa,
having fled the many sadnesses of this world,
is an angel in Paradise.
Be consoled.

Photographed in the cloister of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence by Passante in 2001.

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The Most Exalted Poet


Exiled from Florence in 1302, a supporter of the losing side in the split Guelph political party, Dante Alighieri was never to see his beloved native city again. He wandered from place to place until his death 19 years later. It was in Ravenna that Dante finished the final cantos of his great work La Commedia (later dubbed by Boccaccio La Divina Commedia, the name by which we know it now). Dante died on September 13, 1321, and was buried in the Church of San Francesco in Ravenna.

Having cast him out at one point in history, the Florentine government tried at a later time to have the remains of the city’s most famous citizen returned. Ravenna stood firm and kept the body. Florence had to be satisfied with supplying the oil for the eternal flame that burns on his grave and erecting this monument in 1829 in the church of Santa Croce. “Honor the most exalted poet,” it commands us.

Words and image by Passante of Passante’s World. Photographed in Florence 2001.

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