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Living in the presence of poets

Jane Keightley stays at Casa Guidi, the Florence apartment Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett called home

Ever since my first trip to Florence I had always wanted to look around Casa Guidi, the home of the poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her husband Robert. I was now getting the chance to actually stay there. I was thrilled. I decided to find out as much as I could about this famous couple and how they ended up living in Florence.

Casa Guidi was the name Robert and Elizabeth gave the apartment they rented on the first floor of | the Palazzo Guidi. It stands on the Via Maggio in the Piazza San Felice, not far from the Palazzo Pitti. They lived here from 1847 to 1861 and during this time they wrote some of their finest poetry. But how had they ended up living in this beautiful city?

Elizabeth had been brought up as an invalid and was not encouraged to mix with the outside world. Her father was a strict and controlling man and after being visited at her home by the famous poet Robert Browning and falling in love with him, she knew she would not be allowed to marry him. A clandestine marriage was arranged and they escaped to Italy to avoid the wrath of Mr Barrett. The initially lived in Pisa but found that there was not enough going on there for their taste so they moved to Florence and settled in happily at the Casa Guidi. Although Elizabeth had always been sickly and frail back in England, she blossomed in the Italian sunshine and fell in love with her new life. During these years Elizabeth wrote Casa Guidi Windows and Aurora Leigh and Robert wrote Men and Women.

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About Italia!

Our cover star, Ravello, clings to the cliffs above the panoramic Amalfi Coast and is a perfect starting point for our travels this month. Take a stroll through this vibrant town to discover a place where faith, music and creativity flow.