Friday, 16 October 2009

Milton in Florence

"Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks In Vallombrosa........" These lines from Milton's Paradise Lost often come into my mind at this time of year. Milton, one of the greatest of English poets, travelled through France and Italy for fifteen months in 1638/9 and spent some time in Florence. On the mountainside of Vallombrosa there is a house, with a plaque announcing it as "La casa di Giovanni Milton", and he is reputed to have written some of Paradise Lost while staying there. Milton, who travelled by horseback, had with him letters of introduction from England which enabled him to make many friends among the Florentine intellectuals, including Galileo. His manners and erudition brought him admirers from all walks of life. He visited the city's academies and met a number of famous and influential people, and he enjoyed his time in Florence enough to return a short time later for a couple of months. In Vallombrosa the brooks still run down through the woods and I am sure the leaves still strew them.

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