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of Ravenna

Lord George Byron

Via Camillo Benso Cavour, 54 - Ravenna
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Sweet hour of twilight! – In the solitude
Of the Pine forest, and the silent shore
Which bounds Ravenna’s immemorial wood,
Rooted where once the Adrian wave flowed o’er,
To where the last Cæsarean fortress stood,
Evergreen forest! which Boccaccio’s lore
And Dryden’s lay made haunted ground to me,
How have I loved the twilight hour and thee.
(Don Juan Canto 105, 1821)

Insatiably in pursuit of emotional excitement, the fame of LORD GEORGE GORDON BYRON, one of the greatest British poets, is due above all to his romantic and excessive lifestyle, political and literary scandals, heroic and revolutionary adventures and brazen womanizing, a number of which were notched up in Italy. After deciding to leave England never to return, he sojourned first in Milan from 1816, then in Venice and finally from 1819 in Ravenna, following his beloved Teresa Guiccioli.

The pine forest along the Ravenna coast in Classe, mentioned in the satirical epic poem published posthumously, Don Juan (in Italian Don Giovanni), was for Byron an ideal environment, because it was wild and attractive, highly symbolic as a source of artistic and literary inspiration and a natural mirror of the romantic temperament of Sturm und Drang.

His publisher, Thomas Medwin, reports how during his stay in Ravenna (1818-1821), Byron was never tired of exploring the pine forest, on foot or on horseback. Here, as the poet himself writes in the third canto of Don Juan, he breathed in the fables of Dryden, the togetherness of the people in Boccaccio’s Decameron and the majesty of prophecy in Dante’s Comedy: “There is something stimulating in this air”, he confesses (Conversations, ed. Lovell, p.25).

Piero Gamba, brother of his beloved countess Teresa Guiccioli, for whom he had come to Ravenna as a guest at his brother-in-law’s palace in Via Cavour, tells how, at the end of a ride in the forest, Byron declaimed:

How, raising our eyes to heaven, or directing them to the earth, can we doubt of the existence of God? – or how, turning them to what is within us, can we doubt that there is something more noble and durable than the clay of which we are formed?

FOCUS

Love and revolution at Palazzo Guiccioli

As he was ion Ravenna, Lord Byron was often a guest of Count Alessandro Guiccioli in his palace in Via Conte di Cavour.

Built at the end of the 17th century by the Osio family, the palace was purchased for the count’s marriage with Teresa Gamba. Guiccioli had walls and ceilings painted for his wife Teresa, making the palace one of the city’s most elegant ones.

Later, it was also inhabited by Luigi Carlo Farini, one of the creators of the Italian Risorgimento; for these reasons, it was chosen as the ideal place to host the Byron and Risorgimento Museum, which is scheduled to open soon.

In 2018, Palazzo Guiccioli has also been designed to host the Italian headquarters of the Byron Society, destined to become a research centre for in-depth studies of the poet’s life and works in Italy.

There, he used to spend a lot of time and to love the young bride of the nobleman, while he dreamt of revolution with her brother, Pietro Gamba, collecting weapons to support the uprisings of the Carbonari.

Byron dreamt of revolution and of the right moment to take the field alongside the Carbonari, but this never happened. From his diary, he appears as a young man of considerable culture, but disillusioned and superficial in everyday life. He spent his days reading or in the company of his beloved Teresa Guiccioli, but his gloomy and melancholic vein prevailed, so much so that he wrote that he preferred solitude to company.

And yet, still famous is his testament in verse: “But I have lived, and have not lived in vain”.

A cura della Redazione Locale
E-mail: turismo@comune.ravenna.it

Ultima modifica: 15 January 2023

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