Abstract: Now remembered chiefly as the first American to translate the whole Dante’s Commedia, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had a lifelong fascination with Italy that was not incidental to his popularity as a poet and international renown during the nineteenth century. The essay considers Longfellow’s regard for Florence, where he
sojourned unhappily as a student and more happily in later life with his family, in relation to other Italian cities. After considering Longfellow’s descriptions of Florence in his travel letters and poetry, focusing in particular on his sonnet, “The Old Bridge at Florence,” it turns to examine a late, unfinished work, a dramatic poem on the life of Michelangelo and the ambivalent feelings they shared toward Florence and Rome.
Key words: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Florence, Arno River, Dante Alighieri, Michelangelo Buonarotti, American poetry, travel literature, transatlantic literature, translation studies.