This book, which you are about to peruse, has only recently been brought to light of day.  It dates back to the early sixteenth century.  I found it personally about five years ago tucked away among folded linens in a chest also going back to the Renaissance.  My family home, the Palazzo Castiglione, near the convent of Sant’Apollonia in Florence, was in the process of being sold and then the interior gutted to be remade into a hotel.  Everything of value had to be removed beforehand.  Contents of rooms, some undisturbed for centuries, had to be examined and evaluated.

This particular book attracted my attention because it is apparently the autobiography of a Dominican friar of the convent of San Marco at the time of Savonarola.  In hastily examining it, I discovered that the book is inscribed as a gift to Pierluigi and Giorgio on the occasion of their mutual exchange of vows to live a shared life.  Extensive mention of Pierluigi and Giorgio in the closing pages of the book makes it clear that the former was in fact master of Palazzo Castiglione in the last years of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century and that Giorgio was at first a servant of the palazzo who eventually became Pierluigi’s consort.  I am a direct descendant of Armando Castiglione, Pierluigi’s first cousin, who inherited the Palazzo Castiglione when Pierluigi died unmarried and childless.

             I have spent the last year and a half editing and preparing Italian and English versions of Donatellos David, not only because of its ties to the Castiglione family, but because it is an important work that stands on its own.  It is the story, told in the first person, of the son of a stonemason from the Mugello district, northeast of Florence.  Today this young boy, Piero, would be described as gay or homosexual, words that were nonexistent in his own time.  Favorite for a while of the great sculptor Donatello and model for the David, Donatello’s celebrated bronze statue, Piero in time became a Dominican friar and priest at the convent of San Marco.  With the aid of his fellow friars, Matteo, Andrea and others, he arrived at considerable self-understanding and made his way successfully through the complex social, artistic, and religious society of Renaissance Florence.

 

Fabrizio Castiglione

Florence, February 23, 2006