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Shelley Sites/Sights


As Richard Holmes points out in Shelley: The Pursuit, Pisa "became the nearest thing Shelley ever had to a home anywhere since leaving Field Place" (575). Pisa has since treated Shelley like an adopted son, albeit a misplaced one: although the Via Shelley (and Via Byron) can be found here, neither poet ever lived anywhere near them. Shelley and Byron preferred the slightly decaying elegance of the Lung’Arno, a collection of palaces, plazas, upscale hotels, and mansions that front both sides of the Arno River.
The Albergo delle Tre Donzelle still stands on the Plaza Garibaldi, where the Ponte del Mezzo crosses the Arno. Shelley, Mary, and Claire stayed here in May 1818, when they enjoyed Pisan sights such as the Leaning Tower and Baptistry (but found the conditions of Italian convict street-workers appalling); and for an overnight stay on their journey from Livorno to Florence in October 1919.
In January 1820, Shelley returned to Pisa, hoping to establish or find there: "a society of our own class, as much as possible, in intellect or in feeling." Pisa was the logical spot, for, as he pointed out to Mary, "Our roots were never struck so deeply as at Pisa and the transplanted tree flourishes not" (cited in Holmes 672). The society would be formed primarily of writers, with Shelley, Byron, and Leigh Hunt as the guiding figures. During the last part of October 1821, the Shelleys moved into the top floor of the Tre Palazzi di Chiesa, overlooking the Ponte Fortezza, on the Lung'Arno Galileo Galilei (Mary filled the place with potted plants). Later, Edward and Jane Williams moved into the ground floor.
From their windows they could see Byron’s Palazza Lanfranchi, on the opposite side of the Lung'Arno (Lung'Arno Mediceo). In August 1821, Shelley had negotiated the lease on the marble palace as part of his campaign to tempt Byron to Pisa. Byron moved in in November, and immediately implemented a manly regimen of riding, shooting, gambling, and billiards.
Byron and Shelley would meet at the front gate before leaving for their daily target-shooting practice: the discharge of firearms was prohibited within the Pisan city limits, so they were forced to ride outside the city walls. They were often joined by friends, among them Tom Medwin and Edward Williams.
We were unable to trace find Casa Galetti, the winter apartment on the north side of the river that the Shelleys occupied during the winter of 1820; or Casa Aulla, also on the Lung'Arno, where they moved in March 1821; or Mrs. Mason's Casa Silva.

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Published @ RC

January 2006