Do you ever wonder how a person lived in the middle ages? This site is dedicated to revealing tidbits of life in the period of time we label the Middle Ages (1100-1450) and Renaissance (1450-1600) in Italian city-states. I collected this information in an endeavor to understand how they behaved and lived during those times, not as a person going back in time, but as one who only knows medieval life.
This means that I had to remove modern paradigm from my thought process. I wake up, turn on a light switch, twist a faucet knob, dress in a climate controlled room, drive to work, order lunch online, make dinner plans with friends via text message, and have the answer to every question at my fingertips via Google on Smartphone. I would imagine that the daily activities of my medieval cohort would be vastly different. How would they know when to wake up? How did they go about dressing and grooming. What about transportation and road/sidewalk conditions? How did they answer questions that came up during conversation or popped into their own heads sporadically? What gestures were normal for them (i.e., now flicking a light switch, swiping a credit card, taking an Advil, opening a can of soda, pressing the button on a remote, or locking our front door is done without any conscious thought)?
I also had to scrutinize my thoughts for incorrect assumptions about their surroundings. When visiting Italy and walking the halls of museums or old palazzos I felt the coldness and flatness of time and distance. I imagined dreary, muddy, streets and colorless stone homes. Upon examination I realize that I overlooked the vibrancy and vividness of the lives they must have led, because it was “now” for them. They are exactly like us, just not here in our present day. So for this website I have collected information on the clothing (abbigliamo) they wore as depicted in paintings and frescoes of Lorenzetti and Veronese, the way they behaved (comportiamo) evidenced in their writings, the way they spoke (esprimiamo) like in a Boccaccio or Aretino novel, and the use of objects (serviamo di oggetti) similar to those seen in recreations of their homes.
To prepare yourself for the information contained here…. imagine being in Florence, Italy today. It’s just after dusk, and you’re leaving your hotel after a nice dinner to visit the square (piazza) of the famous cathedral (cattedrale). A heavy fog encases you as you walk towards the Duomo of Santa Maria Del Fiore. After a few minutes it begins to lift, and you notice that the temperature has dropped. You cross your arms and tuck your hands in for warmth and resume your trek, but then you realize the street is darker than before. The street lamps and fluorescent bulbs of the retails shops are no longer illuminating your path, the noise of busses and passing cars is gone. The smells of Florence have also changed, the air is lighter and smog-free, but the scent of food, animals, and smoke fill your nostrils. The sounds of horns, motors, and tourists are now replaced by whinnying horses, grunting pigs, and cackling geese. You realize with amazement that you are still in Florence, but in a time different from the one in which you live.
Strangely you feel comfortable, and can understand the language you are hearing spoken from passerby. You know that you should continue to the Duomo, because you are late for vespers (vespro). Read further (click the links below for my research) to learn how you would dress, live, and interact in Florence of the middle ages.