bonæ litteræ: occasional writing from David Rundle, Renaissance scholar

Where’s Vespasiano, a year on?

Posted in Uncategorized by bonaelitterae on 14 June, 2011

One of the delights of slow-blogging – the art of not posting everyday, of eschewing the thrill of an immediate but evanescent impact – is that writings even I have half forgotten can evoke a response long after they have been put on-line. You may have fewer visitors but look at the quality. An example: I switched on my laptop this morning to find that Brian Maxson (yes, he, attentive reader, of the article on Bruni’s Xenophon translation) had commented on my post from twelve months ago concerning the putative whereabouts of the ‘bookshop’ of Vespasiano da Bisticci.

What a (little) difference a year makes

Brian’s words have spurred me to turn my intention to update that post into a reality of the virtual sort. When I visited the location last year, the leather shop, ‘Junior’ was feeling its age: it closed late in June 2010. It has now been replaced – in despite of world financial turmoil that has made the term double-dip no longer the preserve solely of the fun-fair – by an elegant boutique. For completeness of the photo-record, here is a snapshot.

I must say, I have been suspicious of the claim that the doorway was just as it was in Vespasiano’s day – a suspicion I am emboldened to state reading Brian’s similar opinion. He goes on to suggest that the location was a few yards to the south, on the corner of the Via Ghibellina, close to the Bargello, which, as he says, before it became an early-modern prison, was where the external judge, the podestà, was holed up or incarcerated during his six months’ term in Florence. It is now a restuarant, cum pizzeria, cum gelateria (all your appetite’s desires sated in one location).

I realise that we may be unwittingly beginning a neighbourly dispute over who indeed is the heir to Vespasiano’s spot. Could there be any outright winner? Not, I would imagine, from the physical state of the buildings alone. We have to await a definite reference to an unarguably precise position before this can be finally settled. Get thee to the archives, then.

The real shop of Vespasiano?

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