Blog · December 29, 2016

Florence & History

I’ve been real sick with the flu this past week, so I had the chance to finally watch the 8 episodes of Medici: Masters of Florence on Netflix and, let’s just say I was not disappointed. It was a beauty to behold. Glorious.

First, let me say that Firenze (Florence), is my absolute favorite city in the entire world, bar none. Not that I have seen the entire world, mind you, but the moment I set foot on this city in 1980, during a school trip with our History Teacher, I felt different somehow, transported.
I was 15 at the time and the one thing that I still remember clearly about that day is the amounts of deja-vus I had. I remember walking into the Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and I was almost in a trance. I can’t really explain it. It was like I had lived there before and I was re-discovering it. I encountered a similar feeling when I was learning English, it was not so much a matter of learning it, but a matter of getting re-acquainted with it.

Firenze has been my passion ever since. Even at 15 years of age I felt Firenze was calling me. So, imagine my pleasant surprise when I heard that they were going to do a TV show about the Renaissance in Florence, actually filmed in Florence and in the area! Wow, a dream. Starring Richard Madden & Dustin Hoffman? Yes please!
I’ve seen TV shows that are “supposed” to be taking place in Italy but not an ounce of filming was done there (such as the Borgias) and the difference cannot be understated. I remember watching the movie “Casanova” with Heath Ledger, and I could tell it was filmed in Venice, it was magnificent even if only for the scenery.

Now that I have seen the Medici, I can honestly tell you it is a well done piece of television. I absolutely loved it. Is it historically accurate? Hmmm… not 100%. Maybe not even 75%. But a good chunk of the story is indeed true, with a lot of historical fiction threaded in to make a tv show enjoyable for the modern viewers. For example, Cosimo was indeed put to trial and almost killed by Albizzi and then exiled to Venice, although I am not sure exactly if he was in the manner shown, nor I believe the schemes with the various Popes are all true, even though there had to be some scheming going on, but it did make me go learn more about what the history of Florence during the Medici really was and it’s an intriguing thing to be wanting to learn more about history. I’ve long said that the way they teach history in school is downright boring. These were actual people living in different times, and when the shows make them come alive in such a way, they make them more real and interesting to the pupil.
I understand the critics wanting them to make a show 100% historically factual, but I’ve learned more about history by watching this sort of show and then going to do some research myself than reading some boring textbook. This is not a documentary afterall, it’s entertainment, and that’s the power of television and movies. I do believe we need MORE movies about the past, if only to teach the younger generation about how we got to be here, now.

My love for the Renaissance, Medieval and the past in general is not something new, but it’s only been the past decade or so that it’s become somewhat of an obsession. It started I believe with watching TV shows like the Tudors & the Borgias, then the White Queen, followed by Reign, Outlander, Poldark, Game of Thrones, Versailles and others. I am now catching up with some old ones I never watched, such as the Vikings & Rome.

The one thing that I would agree with the critics that perhaps I have a hard time believing is the role of women back then. On certain shows they show women being more vocal than I believe they could ever be. Even the Queens, while they demanded respect, surely bowed to their husbands more than we realize. Even Queen Elizabeth the 1st, I wonder truly how much power she had overall. As a woman that was born after women were granted the right to vote and after women’s liberation, I know that I have far more rights than women did just a century ago. We must never take them for granted. I suppose I should thank an Italian teacher I had back in 9th grade for reminding me and the girls in our class how far we’ve come and how much farther we had to go. It saddens me when there are women out there that don’t get how oppressed our sex was for almost the entire history of humanity. A few years ago I overheard a woman stating that women had no place in the White House. A woman said this!!! Outrageous and out of the Twilight Zone if you ask me.

Women may have come a long way but we have a long way to go.

Love & Light,