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Tick Tock, Clarice

November 7, 2010

Well, the click will just have to tick away on NaNo.  I’ve got some more reading done but not much in the last few days – stress levels finally getting close to zero again, where I need them to concentrate.  All the same, I almost have enough information to write the next scene, though of course the more you read the more you have to “write in” so as not to omit anything important.  I want to make sure that I continue to write fiction as I research, so I don’t forget the goal, so that unlike my two previous efforts it doesn’t become all about the easy part (learning something new about something I’m already interested in) and not about the hard part (generating good and plausible fiction).  I remember a story about Isaac Asimov, a very bright science fiction writer, who got a job as a chemistry teacher, even though he knew fuck-all about chemistry.  He needed the job, so he took it, and then each night, before class, he read the material he’d present the next day to his class, just barely staying ahead of them.  I love stories like that which prove that some of us can, indeed, dive into something new and have command of it in a short time.  (And Bronzino’s portrait of Giovanni, seen below, was produced in less than two months after his arrival in Pisa…)

So here’s all that I’ve found out which requires further reading before any more writing can be done:

I have to go back now and chop out the bit about Bronzino having quarters provided for him by the Medici, though it’s true in a way since he’ll be staying with his friend Luca Martini, who was responsible for reclaiming the marshes around Pisa and transforming them into lucrative farmland.

From what I could read in “previews” from Beyond Isabella: Secular Women Patrons of Art in Renaissance Italy, it turns out that Bronzino traveled “by boat” from Florence to Pisa – a simple search on “travel from Florence to Pisa by water” comes up blank, so it’s probably not possible any more.  How do I find out how it was done then? 

Also, he not only traveled with “sculptor and architect Battista del Tasso,” but this gentleman also stayed with Luca Martini, so I have to look him up and create his character.  (This boat ride would be a good place to put the gentlemen’s disagreement about the virtues of painting vs. sculpture, quite the topic at this time.  Which may also mean getting rid of having B and Pontormo laugh at a pompous ass at the Academy who raises up sculpture and throws down painting.)

The summons to Pisa was urgent, I’ve discovered, because Eleanor was eager to get a painting of little Giovanni done and sent to the Pope with great haste, the Medicis being eager to get him a Cardinal’s hat – as was rather common at the time for noble children still far from comprehending so much as the tail ends of the Gordian Knot that is theology.  He looks a rather sour-looking child in the portraits B did of him (right) at around age 7, and still sour in the portrait of him as St. John the Baptist (more propaganda designed to reinforce his suitability for the Church, even the Papacy) esp. in comparison to his bubbly demeanor as a baby – almost as if he’d grown to hate his adorable “baby picture” being chatted about as much as the rest of us would do in the same circumstances.  I imagine I’d be posing for pictures with this “mask” on…


…if everyone in the world thought of me based on this picture:


Even today, the “baby Gio” picture is the one that comes up in overwhelmingly high numbers on image searches, while I had to take a photo of the picture of Giovanni as St. John from the Brock book.  Giovanni died young, so he never took a role in the family or in history that would have erased or effaced the baby pic – this is also good meat for the story, and I can make him a surly boy who hates Bronzino for doing the portrait in the first place.

If this book is ever finished and published, I think the dedication should be to “Google Books and Amazon Search Inside” – the best reference tools I’ve found.  I had to buy the Beyond Isabella, which looks worth it anyway, since so little is available via preview, but enough to guarantee it as a worthy purchase.  UNR doesn’t let “community borrowers” do interlibrary loans, alas.  But my status there might change, more on that next time.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2010 12:58 pm

    Hi. You don’t me but I’m following your blog since a bit. I have never commented though, but I’m Italian and of course I was interested when you spoke about Italy.

    you said:

    > From what I could read in “previews” from Beyond Isabella: Secular Women Patrons of Art in Renaissance Italy, it turns out that Bronzino traveled “by boat” from Florence to Pisa – a simple search on “travel from Florence to Pisa by water” comes up blank, so it’s probably not possible any more. How do I find out how it was done then?

    I did your same search for you but in Italian, so maybe I was luckier. I found this article about the project to realize a river way between Florence and the sea passing through Pisa:

    In this point it says:

    “Sempre su spinta dell’assessorato allo sviluppo economico, nacque in quegli anni anche il progetto della navigazione turistica sul tratto urbano dell’Arno. Venne predisposto un bando per la concessione di licenze a privati che avrebbero dovuto gestire il servizio, così come accade lungo altri fiumi del nostro Paese e su molti altri fiumi e canali europei. Fu il primo bando del genere uscito nella nostra regione; dopo alterne vicende, le licenze furono assegnate alla cooperativa “Il Navicello” che attualmente gestisce il servizio. Il principale obiettivo perseguito è quello di far recuperare ai cittadini pisani la consapevolezza del fiume considerandolo un elemento vivo e vitale per la città e non soltanto un ostacolo e, durante le piene, un motivo di inquietudine.

    L’asta dell’Arno, incredibilmente, permette di godere da un punto di vista nuovo i diversi volti di Pisa mettendoli in collegamento tra loro: il parco urbano delle Piagge, il centro storico, il parco di San Rossore – Migliarino – Massaciuccoli fino ad arrivare al mare. Il progetto di navigazione è stato avviato su un primo tratto e limitatamente ai confini del Comune di Pisa con la certezza che avrebbe col tempo ricompreso gli altri Comuni confinanti (com’è effettivamente accaduto) e con la speranza che potesse essere il primo passo verso la realizzazione di un sogno, la navigabilità del fiume e lo sviluppo del turismo fluviale tra Pisa e Firenze. Pisa diventerebbe così la porta d’accesso alla Toscana dal mare attraverso l’Arno.”

    Rough Translation:

    “With the encouragement of the town council to have a economic development, was born in those years the project of a navigation service on the urban path of the Arno. Was drawn up a contract for the licensing of individuals who should manage the service, as is the case along other rivers of our country and on many other rivers and canals of Europe. It was the first of such call came in our region, after various vicissitudes, licenses were given to the cooperative “The Navicello” which currently manages the service. The main objective is to recover to the Pisan citizens awareness of the river as a means of living and vital strength for the city and not just an obstacle and, during floods, a cause for concern.

    From the Arno, incredibly, you can enjoy a new point of view the different faces of Pisa by linking them together: the city park of Piagge, the historic center, the park of San Rossore – Migliarino – Massaciuccoli to reach the sea. The navigation project was launched only for an initial short track and limited to the city limit of Pisa in the knowledge that would in time included other neighboring municipalities (as actually happened) and with the hope that it could be the first step towards a dream come true, the navigability of the river and the development of river tourism between Pisa and Florence. Pisa becomes the gateway to Tuscany by the sea via the River Arno.”

    and in the Italian Wikipedia you can find this:

    “L’Arno è stata una importante via di trasporto fluviale fino alla costruzione nel XIX secolo, della ferrovia Firenze-Livorno. Il fiume nelle varie epoche è stato utilizzato soprattutto per le comunicazioni tra Firenze e la costa. Il carattere torrentizio non garantiva, nel periodo estivo, la continutà della portata sufficiente ai pur piccoli “navicelli” per poter raggiungere Firenze, per cui nel tempo presero importanza due scali più a valle: “Porto di Mezzo” (localizzato presso Lastra a Signa) e “Porto di Sotto” (in località “la Lisca” nei pressi della Gonfolina. Nel periodo estivo le piccole imbarcazioni piatte, si fermavano in uno di questi scali e le merci proseguivano per via terrestre.

    Anche il tronco a monte di Firenze è stato utilizzato per la navigazione fin dal Medioevo. In questo caso si trattava del trasporto di legname delle foreste casentinesi. I tronchi venivano legati insieme a formare zattere dette “foderi” e così condotti con l’aiuto di lunghe pertiche fino in città. i foderi potevano inoltre servire a trasportare piccoli quantità di merci.

    Uno dei trasporti più importanti che avvenivano tra il XVI ed il XIX secolo, sull’Arno era quello del “ferraccio”, cioè dei frammenti di ghisa ottenuta dalla rudimentale fusione a cui era sottoposto nelle fornaci di Follonica il minerale di ferro estratto nelle cave dell’isola d’Elba e portato sulla costa. Il metallo veniva quindi imbarcato fino a Livorno o Pisa e proseguiva con barconi fino al “Porto di sotto”. Da qui se la portata dell’Ombrone lo consentiva, il minerale, trasbordato su barche più piccole, giungeva allo scalo del ponte all’Asse posto sulla riva di Poggio a Caiano. Il trasporto proseguiva con barrocci fino a Capodistrada presso Pistoia e poi con animali da soma verso le ferriere della montagna pistoiese, dove abbondava il carbone di legna con cui il minerale veniva fuso e lavorato.”

    rough Translation:

    “The Arno has been an important transport route river until the construction in the XIX century of the railroad Florence-Livorno. The river at various times has been used mainly for communications between Florence and the coast. The torrential flows did not guarantee, in the summer, the quota of sufficient water deep for even the small “navicelli” (,_lungarno_e_ponte_alle_grazie_1744.jpg) to get to Florence, for which in time other two important stops further down took importance: “Porto di Mezzo” (located at Lastra a Signa) and “Porto di Sotto” (in “La Lisca” near the Gonfolina). In summer the small flat boat stopped in one of these ports and the cargo shipment continued by land.

    Even the river trunk above Florence has been used for navigation since the Middle Ages. In this case involved the transport of timber from the Casentino forests. The logs were tied together into rafts called “foderi”, and so conducted with the help of long poles into the town. The foderi (sheaths) could also be used to carry small quantities of goods.

    One of the most important transport that occurred between the XVI and the XIX century on the Arno was that of “ferraccio,” that is the iron fragments obtained from the melting in furnaces done in Follonica, the iron was extracted in the quarries of Isola d’Elba and then brought to the coast. The iron was then shipped to Livorno or Pisa with boats and went up on flat boat to the “Porto di Sotto”. Hence if the flow of the Ombrone river allowed it, the mineral, transferred to smaller boats, reached the pier of the bridge located at Asse, on the side of Poggio a Caiano. The journey continues with trolleys to Capodistrada at Pistoia and then by pack animals to the ironworks of the Pistoia mountains, full of charcoal with which the ore was melted and worked.”

    Hope it helps and if you need more just ask.

    • ooutland permalink
      November 7, 2010 4:01 pm

      Wow! Thank you, that was absolutely amazing and exactly what I need to know. Now I can even see them on the boat as they move past the “foderi” on the river. It looks from the picture that they must have poled up the river, when sailing wasn’t possible. I’m glad to hear that someone is resurrecting this mode of travel – if I can get to Italy some day, I’d take that trip myself. Thank you so much for your help,


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