It always seems straightforward. Just a quick entry! Somehow, though, it never is.
I generally start by consulting my gigantic compulsive list of places to add to the Atlas, and pick one. In this case, it seemed simple: big horse statue, Milan. My notes to self read: “Leonardo’s Horse - the largest equestrian statue in the world.”
Steps to completion:
- Consult official website for the project, Milan guidebook, plus a biography of Leonardo Da Vinci looking for details.
- Find out that it is not actually the largest equestrian statue in the world.
- Find out that it is not actually by Leonardo Da Vinci, but a modern interpretation commissioned by a retired United Airlines pilot out of Pennsylvania.
- Get distracted by actual largest equestrian statue in the world - Genghis Khan, Ulaanbaatar - add it to gigantic compulsive list.
- Start framing post, commit to two sentences before needing to confirm another fact.
- Look up Da Vinci’s lost notebooks, buy books online.
- Look up Da Vinci’s patron - Ludovico ‘Il Moro’ (“The Moor”) Sforza - get distracted by all of his shenanigans.
- Add the Sforza castle in Milan to gigantic compulsive list.
- Spend an hour brushing up on Renaissance Italian history, and trying to figure out what exactly the Italian Wars were all about.
- Find out that Ludovico’s dad was a mercenary who fought with and against another mercenary I wrote about, try to find book on Italian mercenaries - did I loan it to someone? Root through shelves and boxes until found.
- Return to post, try to decide between three possible names for same object, in two languages.
- Consult interwebs for giant horse bronze casting process.
- Blame Wikipedia for another half hour digression when I discover that Lucrezia Borgia was married into the Sforza family (annulled on claims of his impotence), feel compelled to read up on her.
- Add tomb of Lucrezia Borgia and her love letters to the gigantic compulsive list. [UPDATE! Look! Added! Lucrezia Borgia’s Love Letters, Milan]
- Return to post, add another hundred words.
- Find out that Ludovico died in the “underground dungeon at Loches”.
- Add “underground dungeon at Loches” to gigantic compulsive list.
- Late in the game, realize that there was more than one horse made - spend half an hour trying to sort out which one ended up in Milan after all.
- Try to remember where I saved that half-decent photo of the horse on my computer.
- Proof read, fact check, and publish.
Voila. One down, unknown multitudes to go.
Here’s that horse we’ve been talking about: