While traveling in Italy in August I was reading a book a friend had sent me called Desiring Italy, a collection about that country by women writers. It’s broken down by region and city, so I was reading about Florence while heading to Florence or actually there.

By far my favorite piece in the book was excerpted from The Stones of Florence by Mary McCarthy for giving me more than any history book could about the Renaissance and the architecture.

“On the outside, [the Florentine Duomo] is a dazzling mountain, cased in the native marbles of Tuscany, and, inside, it is a man erect,” McCarthy writes.

Indeed, the very feel of Florence is masculine and virile and you cannot help but revel in it. So it is no surprise McCarthy’s name stayed with me, but I kept thinking it was familiar for another reason. On Friday, while looking for something on my big wall of books, I noticed a little battered paperback called Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by none other than Mary McCarthy. A friend had sent it to me a while ago and I had forgotten all about it.

Now, more than halfway through it, I am beyond fascinated by this woman. Love when that happens.