The Casa Firenzi Story and origin of i Firenzi, the Commedia dell’ Arte Troupe – Episode 1 – A letter to my sister
London, England, March 3, 1590
My dearest sister Lucia,
Today is my final day in London. Tomorrow I begin my journey to meet you in Florence. I cannot believe my good fortune! I hope this letter reaches you before I do!
Please express to your dear friend, the Marchesa Firenzi, my eternal gratitude for bringing me into her household. You have spoken so well of her and the family Firenzi for so long that I feel blessed to be included by her. After our parents went to God, I never dreamed we would be part of a large family again.
And how large! The Marchesa’s ten children simply must be overwhelming to keep up with. No wonder you need help with tutoring them. I promise I will provide them focused lessons in dance and music. I will naturally focus on the popular Caroso style, but I hope the Marchesa doesn’t mind some English style dance from the Inns of Court to ensure her children are well rounded. Don’t worry, I won’t mention that man, Arbeau. And your secret fencing lessons for the girls are our precious secret. Maybe you could teach me some fencing when I arrive?
To be part of one of the most powerful families in Florence is a little intimidating. Everyone knows the Medici, Sforzas, Gonzagas, Firenzi, and other powerful Italian families are always at each other’s throats. I pray we don’t get pulled into any political adventures. It’s far too easy to find oneself dead or missing in a country full of assassins. Of course Elizabeth’s England is not much better. At least in Florence I will live with the protection of a powerful household.
Speaking of protection, please send thanks to the Marquess Firenzi for sending the kind gentleman to escort me all the way to Florence. I never thought such an act of chivalry would focus on me, but I am grateful for the company. Traveling on my own terrified me.
My escort is an enchanting and well educated man. He was apparently meeting academic colleagues at the University of Leiden when he got orders from the Marchese to travel through London on his way home. He has collected me and we will travel together home to Casa Firenzi in Florence. I’m certain the conversation will continue to be interesting. He is a brilliant naturalist with a deep facination with roses. He worked with the Master Clusius on building that famous garden in Vienna a few years ago for the Holy Roman Emperor, Maxamillian II. But I’m sure you know that already since he’s been part of the Firenzi household for 5 years by now, and he’s a talkative fellow. He’s extremely proud of the garden he’s built for the Marchesa. I just hope the travel conversation may cover more topics than the many varieties of roses he’s grown. Roses all look the same to me, but the differences between rose varieties is extremely important to him. I wonder if he knows anything about tulips? At least he’s handsome, so if the conversation gets boring, the scenery is pleasant.
Once I get to Florence, the first thing I want to do is see the Italian comic actors! It’s been very hard for me to see them when they occasionally come to a London house. I never seem to be invited to the right dinners. I’ve heard wonderful stories of their high energy comedy. And they include women in their troupes! I would just die of joy if I were ever allowed to perform with a troupe of men and women who get paid to enchant their patrons with humor! I have heard that these troupes of actors actually earn a living. Just like The Queen Elizabeth’s Men, but with women and high energy comedy!
You know I love that incredible new writer, William Shakespeare, but there is no possibility I would be allowed to perform his works being a woman in Elizabeth’s England. At least not anywhere respectable.
Dear sister, my new life in Florence will have everything I’ve ever wanted! I will live under the same roof with you again. I will see comedy in the streets. I will teach young people the beauty of music and dance. I will be part of a large family with reliable protection. And I might even catch the eye of the handsome rose master. Don’t tell him I said that.
With deep love and great excitement,
Your eternally loving sister,