In 1988 James Hall, author of among others Hall’s Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, discovered in the British Library a seventeenth-century account of a pilgrimage. He translated the text, followed in the footsteps of the pilgrim and made an extensive study of local archives and libraries in order to reconstruct the world of this seventeenth-century wayfarer.
The pilgrim, Domenico Laffi, born in 1636 in the foothillls of the Apennines not far from Bologna, first published his account in 1673 and called it Viaggio in Ponente…; three years later it was reprinted and a revised edition, from which this translation was made, appeared in 1681. At the time it must have been quite popular, for during the next sixty years it was reprinted another four times. After that the book fell into oblivion.
In this new edition of the diary we experience the world of this extraordinary pilgrim. Laffi has a very lively style of writing – unlike most medieval pilgrims who described their journeys –and it is garnished with personal experiences and impressions. He has an educated taste and an inquiring mind. He writes with understanding about art and architecture and is well acquainted with Italian and Spanish history and literature. He describes in detail the daily life and folklore in the regions that he visits, voicing more often than not in a very frank way his surprise at the things he meets on his way.
Paperback, 1997/2020, 192 pp., ca. 30 ill., ca. 54 ill. in kleur