An Impossible Task
An Impossible Task
Book No.
Short Story 3
Publication Date
N/A [1]
N/A [1]
Main Character
Girolamo Miele
Talian Setting
Preceded By
Followed By
N/A [1]

An Impossible Task is the short story that ties in with City of Flowers.[2] It is about a rivalry between Girolamo Miele and Ottavio Altamonte, for creating bronze doors for the Saint Mary of the Lily.

The characters of Girolamo Miele and Gabriele were inspired by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi and the sculptor Donatello[3] respectively.


As a young man, Girolamo Miele bitterly competes with his rival, Ottavio Altamonte, for the honour of designing and building the bronze gates that will adorn the Church of Saint Mary of the Lily in Giglia. While Girolamo's design is magnificent and beautiful, Ottavio's connections to Giglia's elite and the radical depiction of well-known images in Girolamo's designs result in the committee choosing Ottavio's more traditional design. Outraged, Girolamo leaves for Remora with his best friend, Gabriele.

The men remain in Remora for nineteen years to perfect their crafts until they hear of another competition in Giglia, a commission to design and build a new dome for a cathedral. The task is regarded as impossible, but Girolamo is up for the challenge. He and Gabriele return to Giglia, where Ottavio has become wealthy and Gabriele, with his reputation as a sculptor preceding him, establishes himself. Girolamo begins working on his design for the dome in secret, with an ingenious way to dome to support itself without scaffolding, and becomes confident his design will prevail.

However, when the committee narrows its choices to Girolamo and Ottavio again, Girolamo's poor presentation results in the committee granting the commission to Ottavio again. Girolamo accepts the decision with grace and gets married and starts a family. In spite of losing the commission, Girolamo finds success and acclaim with a different project designing and building the Ospedale della Misericordia, and earns Alfonso di Chimici as his patron. However, it becomes apparent to the committee that Ottavio is unable to accomplish the task of completing the dome when it collapses after five years of fruitless construction; the commission to given to Girolamo while Ottavio's reputation as an architect is ruined.

Though Ottavio remains a lucrative sculptor, he and Girolamo maintain a bitter rivalry until Girolamo, nearing completion of the cathedral dome, makes peace with Ottavio and acknowledges Ottavio's bronze gates as a "miracle." Many years later, when Girolamo is laid to rest in the cathedral, he is honoured with two statues in his image made by Gabriele and Ottavio.


  • Girolamo Miele - An architect, sculptor, goldsmith, and engineer; the ancestor of Giuditta Miele. Because he is hot-headed and possesses a gruff personality, Girolamo's ideas are not always accepted despite being a brilliant artist.
  • Ottavio Altamonte - Girolamo's rival, another architect and sculptor. He is accomplished and considerably more charming and aware of what others want when he produces his artwork. He and Girolamo have been bitter rivals for over 30 years.
  • Gabriele - Girolamo's best friend, a great sculptor. His works include marble sculptures, bronze castings, and wood carvings. He and Girolamo have known each other their entire lives.
  • Beata Miele - Girolamo's wife. She is much younger than Girolamo, who is nearly twice her age, and was the daughter of his housekeeper. Despite her initial fear of him, she came to respect him for his kind heart and great mind and grew to love him, particularly after the birth of their first child. During the construction of the dome, she and Girolamo have three sons and two daughters.

Notes and ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 An Impossible Task is only online
  3. Author's Note - Sugar Fox
    In my website story An Impossible Task I have already used Donatello and the great architect Filippo Brunelleschi as inspiration for the Talian sculptor Gabriele and the architect Girolamo Miele.

The Series
City of Masks · City of Stars · City of Flowers · City of Secrets · City of Ships · City of Swords
Short Stories
A Talian Tale · A Sting in the Tail · An Impossible Task · Sugar Fox · The Fourth Wise Man · Under the Walls