Massimo Seri, mayor of Fano, Italy, was a surprise guest at this year’s annual meeting of the Armstrong Browning Library’s Fano Club on Saturday, May 15. Seri joined the virtual meeting from the Museo Archeologico e Pinacoteca del Palazzo Malatestiano in Fano which houses Guercino’s painting, The Guardian Angel, that inspired Robert Browning’s poem, “The Guardian Angel — A Picture at Fano.”
Situated in front of Guercino’s masterpiece, the mayor celebrated the long-standing relationship between the city of Fano, the Fano Club, and the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University. “I would like to be able to strengthen the bond between our city and your club, maintaining a constant and continuous relationship and, if possible, also trying to organize joint initiatives aimed at enhancing our artistic heritage with the hope of seeing one another again soon.” He also offered the possibility of hosting a meeting of the Fano Club in Italy in 2022 and visiting Waco and the Armstrong Browning Library in the near future.
Armstrong Browning Library Director Jennifer Borderud appreciated the mayor making himself available to speak to Fano Club members. “The Fano Club was thrilled to hear from Mayor Seri at this year’s meeting. I am grateful to him for his kindness and for taking the time to talk with us about the history of Fano, its artistic and cultural heritage, and the unique connection our two cities share. I look forward to finding new ways to collaborate with the city of Fano and to encouraging Baylor students and Browning enthusiasts to visit.”
The Fano Club was established in 1912 by William Lyon Phelps, a Browning scholar at Yale, and later passed to Baylor professor A.J. Armstrong in 1943. Its membership shares Robert Browning’s experience of traveling to Fano, Italy, on the Adriatic coast and seeing Guercino’s Guardian Angel. Postcards mailed from Fano to the Armstrong Browning Library establish membership in the club, which gathers annually in Waco, Texas, for a dinner to share their experiences of Fano and to hear Browning’s poem read aloud. The Armstrong Browning Library houses a copy of Guercino’s Guardian Angel as well as a stained-glass rendering of this work of art created in 1924.