Flood in '66.
I had only recently opened my shop and, still being almos unkonwn, I often had whole days of low activity so I thought about employing those 'dead spells' to practice writing. Initially some 'famous quotes' or some poems, but then I thought to have a go at the Divine Comedy. Choosing a suitable format (an A4 sheet folded in half) and the type of paper (paper parchment 80gr), I started scribbling...
In my first attempts I meant to write on both sides of each page, but the effect was not pleasant: the writing on the back could be seen through and that was not a pleasing effect. So I decided to use only on one side of each page. Obviously I had to deal with the layout and I prepared a certain number of booklets (five A4 sheets folded in half to give me 10 pages for writing).
It often happens that a project is started with enormous enthusiasm, little considering what in means in reality: a huge challange.
Transcribing Hell was a relatively light undertaking... but conquering the top of the 'Paradise'... was a great effort!
One year of work (even if not continuous)
For the duplication of the original, in order to sell the result, I first opted for photocopies, but I thought that this type of solution would not stand the test of time. So it is thanks to a friend expert in artistic reproductions, Giovanni Landi, I used a particular printing process: silk-screen printing, a valuable and long-lasting procedure.
Finally, the binding. For this I used the craftsmanship of a very good Florentine bookbinder, Iandelli , who unfortunately
passed away since then.
The final result can be seen in the following images: leather covers made with extreme skill! I admit, looking at it now, the quality of my writing was really a beginner's one, but after all it was all done 'for practice' ...
"My" Divine Comedy
(Click on images to enlarge)
M° Placido Domingo
I had initially planned to print 300 numbered copies, but in fact I only had 100 printed and just a dozen properly bound.
The elegant box with the three volumes was offered for sale and purchased by a limited number of customers. Teo copies I reserved for
a special gift to the then President of the European University Institute, Prof. Mèny , and another to the world
famous tenor Placido Domingo, met on the occasion of his interpretation of 'Macbeth' at the opera house in Valencia,
Spain, in 2015.
The gift was also particularly appreciated by the tenor's wife, who in her youth had studied Italian in Siena and precisely on the Divine Comedy. I've been told that my present is now in the Domingo residence in New York. A great personal satisfaction!
Roberto Ciabani, a well-known Florentine painter and draftsman, gave me a series, also numbered, of three lithographs (Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso) to be combined with each volume. A particularly happy combination! One of the lithographs can be seen, at the bottom left, in the first photo. Commercially it was not a great success, also because the price, only considering the printing and binding costs, was not cheap. The owners of this precious work have one more reason to be happy with their purchase: an even greater rarity!