Calandrino, Bruno, and Buffalmacco

The Mugnone. The narrow, somewhat workaday river wends down from the hills, dips unseen behind our apartment, and dumps into the larger, more vital Arno below, the one the scullers prefer and the tourists sigh at over the Ponte Vecchio.

It's my third time painting Florence's "second river," every time from a different spot, focusing on a different sense of it.

Roughly running alongside the Mugnone for at least part of the way is the Via Boccaccio, another favourite. I don't know if there's an historic connection between the street name and humanist poet, but it turns out that three of the most wily characters of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron enjoyed the Mugnone as much as I do.

Three stooges centuries before the Hollywood versions, Calandrino, Bruno, and Buffalmacco - all of whom Boccaccio based on actual Renaissance painters - apparently ventured into the Mugnone to hunt for, among other things, "heliotropes," which Calandrino believed would render him invisible and the others, both practical jokers, hammed up. You can feel the comedy without reading the book, and this during the height of the Black Plague when a little comedic release may have been the only thing to keep you alive.

In those days I'm sure the homes weren't as stacked and compressed as they are today, but it's still not hard to imagine those characters down there.

Here's the painting:

Calandrino, Bruno e Buffalmacco
48" x 35" (122cm x 89cm)
Mixed media on panel