"The beauty of the past goes with you at every step in Florence. Buy eggs in the market, and you buy them where Donatello bought those which fell down in a broken heap before the wonder of the crucifix. Pause in a narrow by-street in a crowd, and it shall be that Borgo Allegri, which the people so baptized for love of the old painter and the new-born art. Stray into a great dark church at evening time, where peasants tell their beads in the vast marble silence, and you are where the whole city flocked, weeping, at midnight, to look their last upon the dead face of their Michael Angelo. Buy a knot of March anemones or April arum lilies, and you may bear them with you through the same city ward in which the child Ghirlandaio once played amidst the gold and silver garlands that his father fashioned for the young heads of the Renaissance. Ask for a shoemaker, and you shall find the cobbler sitting with his board in the same old twisting, shadowy street-way where the old man Toscanelli drew his charts that served a fair-haired sailor of Genoa, called Columbus."
Florence, Shelley's "Smokeless City," was the ardently loved home of Michael Angelo. He was born March 6, 1475, or, according to some authorities, 1474, the Florentines reckoning time from the incarnation of Christ, instead of his birth.
Lodovico Buonarotti, the father of Michael Angelo, had been appointed governor of Caprese and Chiusi, and had moved from Florence to the Castle of Caprese, where this boy, his second child, was born. The mother, Francesca, was, like her husband, of noble family, and but little more than half his age, being nineteen and he thirty-one.
After two years they returned to Florence, leaving the child at Settignano, three miles from the city, on an estate of the Buonarottis'. He was intrusted to the care of a stone-mason's wife, as nurse. Living among the quarrymen and sculptors of this picturesque region, he began to draw as soon as he could use his hands. He took delight in the work of the masons, and they in turn loved the bright, active child. On the walls of the stone-mason's house he made charcoal sketches, which were doubtless praised by the foster-parents.