There is the age old saying that opposites attract and it has become an inside joke for humanity, an “-ism” of sorts. Now Firenze is a perfect example, a paradox. She is a city built upon the ruins of an Ancient Roman city called Florentia from around 59 BC. It also went through the Dark Ages where Europe went downhill, to put it simply. Then, in the 15th century, something miraculous happened, and it happened here. The Renaissance was born here, raised here and blossomed here. The rebirth of what we now call high culture, of art, of music, of education. It became the center of something so beautiful that even now, the art is considered some of the best in the world by people of all ages, backgrounds, and knowledge. Afterwards, Firenze entered into what is considered the Modern Age that continues onto the present. As a result, Firenze gracefully combines Ancient Roman ideologies, Renaissance art and modern technology.
Anyone can see this, if they know where to look, of course. Walking down any of the streets, beneath your feet are cobblestone roads, narrow and straight are the more ancient ones. The buildings are beautiful, ranging from lining the streets that mirror the ancient walls, to ones that were restored after bombings during World War II, with tall windows and wooden shutters. The stores are small because owners pay for street view, so they build back into the building. If you look closely, amid the details, there is local street art by different artists. One of my favorites so far is Clet. He mainly does street sign art.
But it’s stuff like that. Simple, yet so complex. Everything combining to create this city, that is so small, you can walk everywhere. It is so modern, but has the soul of an ancient city lying just below our feet.
Another example, is the parade last night. Every year, on September 7, there is the Festa della Rificolona or the Festival of Lanterns. It comes from the tradition of the peasants would bring agricultural gifts to the city for the Virgin Mary in honor of her birthday on September 8, according to the Holy Catholic Church. The peasants would leave at night and light their way with lanterns on long sticks. Now it has become a parade that starts at Piazza Santa Felicita and ends at Santissima Annunziata, going through the Piazza Signoria by the Uffizi Gallery and by the Duomo, all while being led by a Cardinal. Then September 8 is Market Day at Santissima Annunziata. The parade if full of young and old alike, all singing and laughing, holding lanterns. But this wasn’t just an ordinary parade, no, no, not in Italy. You don’t just watch the parade, you join it! You march along with them trying to sing the words and doing the hand motions. It was something that I will never forget. It was the best combination of old traditions and a modern day interpretation.
Day 14, check.