On Sunday, after visiting Raphael’s family home and walking all the way around the Ducal Palace, we left Urbino and drove on to Recanati, where the famous 19th century Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi (http://goo.gl/ElZRN) was born.
Now, as you may already know, I was born in the U.S. and am a U.S. citizen…But when I was six years old, my family moved to Florence, Italy, where I went through the Italian public school system. Anyway, when I was in the scuole medie, the equivalent, I guess, of U.S. middle school, I had to memorize heaps of poems for tests and so on…Point is, Leopardi was definitely one of my favorite poets…though, to be 100% honest!, my classmates and I tended to favor authors of very SHORT poems… 🙂
Fast forward to last weekend. Stefano and I really enjoyed our overnight stay in Recanati, a very pretty hilltop town with cobblestone streets and fine views over the marchigiano countryside. Among the things we did that day was take a guided tour of the Leopardi family library, which doesn’t sound that exciting but was really worth it in the end. The family library holds more than 20,000 volumes, family portraits and miscellaneous objects…AND some of Leopardi’s own drawings and writings…his early ones, in particular.
Our guide told us some juicy tales about the family…for example, things I didn’t know about Leopardi’s very strict father, who, interestingly, demanded the same education for his eldest sons AND his daughter Paolina, which, given the period, was extremely “modern” of him…
Leopardi’s father also opened his library to the citizens of Recanati…a generous but pointless gesture, since, the guide explained, nobody in town could read at that time. Eh. Oh, another interesting titbit for Leopardi fans: his descendants (not his direct descendants, since he died childless…at the age of 39…) still live in the house (photo 2), and the only part open to the public is the library…
As you walk around the town of Recanati, make sure to look up and read the writings you will see engraved on slabs (photo 4) located mostly around the poet’s family home. They are excerpts from Leopardi’s poems…
The verses you can read in this photo are from Leopardi’s 1819 melancholy poem titled “Alla luna,” which means “To the moon.” Here is a translation of that excerpt:
Oh gracious moon, now as the year turns,
I remember how, heavy with sorrow,
I climbed this hill to gaze on you,
And then as now you hung above those trees