Sunday marked the 120th anniversary of the birth of Ernest Hemingway. The Nobel Prize-winning author lived a life as full of adventure as any of his characters, and he traveled the world in pursuit of a good story throughout his life. “Papa” left his mark on several places, and they left their marks on him, appearing as characters in their own right throughout his works.
Hemingway was the first American wounded in Italy during World War I as he had joined the Red Cross after being rejected from the U.S. Armed Forces because of poor eyesight. He was bringing supplies to soldiers on the front line at Fossalta di Piave when he was wounded in a mortar attack. He spent six months recuperating at a military hospital in Milan and fell in love with a nurse, inspiring the plot of “A Farewell to Arms.”
Hemingway’s first novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” popularized the San Fermin Festival and running of the bulls that is an annual rite in Pamplona. His nonfiction work “Death in the Afternoon” details the culture of bullfighting in Spain, and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” dramatizes events of the Spanish Civil War, during which Hemingway worked as a foreign correspondent.
After World War I, Hemingway and his first wife moved to Paris, where he began his writing career in earnest and hung around with the likes of Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and James Joyce. It was this time in Paris between the world wars, living in the Latin Quarter that Hemingway really came into his own as a writer and voice of the “Lost Generation.” The posthumously published memoir “A Movable Feast” chronicles this time.
Though he suffered near fatal injuries in successive plane accidents in Africa later in life, Hemingway’s 10-week safari in 1933 had such a profound impact that it inspired his works “The Greens Hills of Africa,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” He and his second wife toured around what are now Kenya and Tanzania, marveling at the abundance of wildlife.
Hemingway spent several winters in Cuba, raising cats and possibly hunting German U-boats in the waters around the island. He returned to Cuba after working as a foreign correspondent during World War II, when he was a witness to the D-Day landings in Normandy. His time in Cuba inspired “The Old Man and the Sea,” which he wrote in eight weeks and for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and which was cited as a major factor in his winning the Nobel Prize in literature.
As the world watched Notre-Dame de Paris burn last month, many of us thought of our visits to the iconic cathedral that has stood in the heart of the French capital for hundreds of years. Those of us who have studied art history admire it as a leading example of Gothic architecture, with its signature gargoyles and flying buttresses.
While Notre-Dame’s treasures and rose windows were thankfully spared major damage, many people wept at the sight of the roof collapsing and the church’s spire crumbling down. Largay Travel advisors shared some of their memories of Notre-Dame. I myself was fortunate enough to ascend to the roof on my first visit at age 17, and each trip to Paris for me must include a visit; now more than ever.
Stefany DiManno Ceccato of DMC Travel Tailor first visited Paris and Notre-Dame in her early 20s. “I remember admiring the Gothic architecture, as I wasn’t used to seeing that in the States,” she wrote. “I lit a candle inside as my mom faithfully lights candles every Sunday in church. I was in awe with the beauty inside, the stained glass windows, the art, the sculptures, the details. I went with a couple of girlfriends from, so the whole trip was special since it was our first time in Paris!
Silvana Frappier of Destinations Less Known wrote: “A few years back, my husband and I traveled to Paris to celebrate his birthday. This trip was all about him and for him, but I had one request: ‘I must go to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. As a big fan of the classic movie ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ it was a dream of mine to visit the cathedral. After many photos were taken outside, we got to go inside and tour. My husband kept making fun of me that Quasimodo was going to show up at any minute to hunt me. I said to him, ‘stop making fun of it, something is going to happen to you.’ After that he went to light a candle and say prayers. Doing it he burns most of his fingers. … He said he was cursed. We’re still laughing until today of the episode. We will forever cherish this memory.
Melanie Schultz sent along this memory from clients of hers: “What a wonderful time we had in France last summer. One of our many highlights was seeing Notre-Dame. You couldn’t help but feel the history standing in front of this majestic church. So happy my family and I were able to see her in all her glory.”
President Emmanuel Macron has vowed France will rebuild Notre-Dame as swiftly as possible, and generous donations have poured in to fund the undertaking. While none of us who saw the flames engulf the roof will likely ever forget it, we hope someday the fire of 2019 will be just one chapter in the lore of a magnificent building that stands for hundreds of years more.