The latest musings from Lorenzo Carcaterra to be published, his latest book ‘Midnight Angels’ is out, and is set in Florence.
Lorenzo Carcaterra is the famed author of titles Sleepers (1995), Apaches (1997), Shadows (1999), Gangster (2001), Street Boys (2002), Paradise City (2004) and Chasers (2007). Sleepers was made into the fantastic film of the same name starring Kevin Bacon, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Patric, Brad Pitt, Brad Renfro and Minnie Driver.
We are posting this article in 3 parts, so be sure to check out all components!
THE TUSCAN LIFE By LORENZO CARCATERRA
It is there in Siena, outside the walls of a medieval church, only two miniature sculptures chiseled by Michelangelo resting in their four slots. “Were the other two stolen during the War?” I asked a woman standing next to me, her dress stylish, her manner cordial and relaxed.
No,” she said with a slight shake of her head. “His patron did not pay the second half of his commission, so he abandoned the work. Michelangelo may have been an artistic genius, but he was also a businessman. A very good businessman.”
The Tuscan people know their history and are proud to share it with anyone who asks. It can range from the trivial (two patrons at a bar in Lucca set in the middle of a 13th century palazzo arguing over whether Fernet Branca should be considered an alcoholic beverage or a medicinal herb, as the monks who first made it intended) to the impressive?the windows of Florence’s Vasari Corridor, linking the Ponte Vecchio to the Pitti Palace, were designed by Michelangelo, except for two large ones facing the Arno River. “Those,” a guard in the Corridor told me, “were put in on orders from Hitler. He wanted to address the people of Florence from the Corridor and there were no windows large enough for such a purpose. It went against the intent of the Corridor. The windows were designed small and round so the Medici family could look down at the activities of the city without being noticed. Even Mussolini argued against building the larger windows. Hitler prevailed and they were open that one time and they will never be opened again.”
My memories of Tuscany are a blend of the past with the present. My favorite restaurant there is Trattoria Pandemonio, which is home to Mama and the linguini with tomatoes and artichokes I have ever consumed. Mama could have lived and thrived in any period, from the Renaissance to present day. She is a dynamic small woman, full of energy and a happiness that is contagious. She stops by every table, offering a warm smile and an answer to any question, her unlined face glowing in the light of the soft candles centered on every table. She is also fiercely proud of her city. One night, during a relaxing dinner, my wife mentioned the possibility of taking a side trip to Lucca during our stay. Mama smiled and shrugged. “Why do you want to go there when we have everything you need here?” she said. “Great food, wine, Michelangelo, Dante and gelato.”
But Lucca is beautiful,” a young man at the table to our left objected, inserting himself into the conversation.
I agree,” Mama said. “But so is Florence, no? And you don’t have to go anywhere. You are already in a place of beauty. Why waste time looking for something you already have?”