Dante's Italy TodaySince my first reading o Dante's Commedia at the age of 15, which itself was spurred by my first trip to Europe same year, I have always wondered what it would have been like to live in Dante's Italy. Of course, as I learned more about daily life in the Middle Ages, I became less enthusiastic about living in a historical period without central heating or antibiotics, but my fascination with the Italian Trecento (1300's) has persisted.
Now, almost 25 years later, I am living out part of that juvenile dream. I am currently living and working with my family in Arezzo, Italy, a city very near Dante's Florence, in an Italy which bears two notable similarities to Dante's Italy: as of the elections of February 24-25, Italy has no functional central government due, and there is no Pope. Both of these occurrences in themselves are not rare. Italy's government has seen periods of instability, particularly since the end of WWII ; the Papacy remains vacant after the death of every Pope until the new one is chosen. However, the particular nature of today's political situation in Italy reminds me of Dante's Italy, which was without a central government and without a Pope, as the Papacy had moved to Avignon in modern-day France for most of the 1300s.
As a scholar and teacher of Dante , I see Dante everywhere. In this blog, I am going to put that talent (obsession?) to good use! This blog will look at today's Italy (politics, culture, sports, arts, etc.) and speculate on what Dante's take might be. Sometimes this blog will consider the opinion of a guest, Giovanni Boccaccio, Francesco Petrarch, Niccolò Machiavelli, as well. Of course, my main intent is humor, but I also hope, as a teacher, that thinking about what Dante has said about politics and culture of his day might give us some insight into today's Italy.