The first field trip for the communication course included trips to San Casiano Val di Pesa and Siena. San Casiano Val Di Pesa is the location of Machiavelli’s home where he remained in exile for the rest of his life. Seeing the location where he was exiled really allows me to see how strongly he was committed to civil service. As we were walking through Machiavelli’s house turned museum, I was especially struck by the desk where Machiavelli wrote his masterpiece, The Prince. The room was large and the window looked out into the garden, creating a very nice place to write, in my opinion.
In a letter to Francesco Vettori, Machiavelli describes some of his daily routine: talking with woodcutters, taking a trip to the spring, and writing at his desk in the evening. Throughout the day he is “wallowing in all this lousiness” but when he begins to write for hours, he “[feels] no boredom, I forget every worry, I don’t dread poverty.” You could tell through this letter that he is really passionate about his civil service and truly wants to be back in Florence. Once you walk out of his office, you can see beautiful sweeping views of the Tuscan countryside. But, this was not good enough. In fact, the Duomo can be seen far off in the distance from the garden, which was probably a big tease for him.
The restaurant that we ate at, called The Albergaccio, was essentially a bed and breakfast during Machiavelli’s time. Below Machiavelli’s home there was a passageway that goes under the road and leads into the bed and breakfast. But, this bed and breakfast attracted many thieves and peasants. This could be another reason why Machiavelli was miserable in this location. It was a very simple country life and he was surrounded my peasants.
After eating at the restaurant, we made our way to Siena where Machiavelli accomplished many things in his civil service career. Even though our trip to Siena felt somewhat rushed, I could feel the history of the city. My favorite aspect of the Siena trip was the fresco of the Allegory of Good and Bad Government. As Machiavelli frequented Siena, I’m sure he has seen this many times. The fresco shows good government, where the city is flourishing and the countryside is open. When bad government is ruling, the city is full of strife and the gates of the city are closed. In the Prince, Machiavelli talks about good and bad rulers and the effects of both. For me, the fresco allows me to put an image to the ideals Machiavelli talks about in his work.
Overall, the trip was very interesting and I enjoyed connecting the places we have been reading about with the actual locations. I still can’t believe Machiavelli wouldn’t want to live in such a beautiful place. To bring up my point again, it just shows how important reputation was for Machiavelli and his desire to go back to Florence to fulfill civic duties.