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Florence: Street Art & Oddities

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

Wandering the streets of Florence you see all sorts of interesting things, from the ancient to the modern...

"The Common Man" by French artist Clet Abraham

In a city known for monumental art glorifying powerful men and mythological themes, here we have "the Common Man," brought to you (illicitly!) by French-born artist Clet Abraham. He has a studio in Florence so is a familiar presence here in the city. This statue has been erected several times on the Ponte alle Grazie but has been taken down every time as the artist doesn't have a permit. But just like this brave statue, Clet keeps stepping out into the unknown, and put the statue out again last week. We'll see how long it lasts this time! It feels like it's speaking to me directly as I stride into 2021, full of confidence but without a clue where I'm going. You can find Clet at his website and in social media: @cletabraham and his shop @cletstudio.

Here are some of his famous street signs:

I love the whimsical bronze sculpture below by Tuscan artist Mario Moschi (1896-1971), placed in a tiny park by a bridge over the train tracks near the Campo di Marte train station:

Mario Moschi, "Fontana dei Puttini" [the Fountain of the Little Cherubs], 1952

Then there are these massive doorbells throughout the city. I always imagine a kid going over to a friend's house and having to pull this and say "uhhh.... can Johnny come out to play?"

Or how about this forbidding knocker?!

I stumbled on this next one in a narrow alley: the once mighty Knights Templar have an office here! On a fading piece of paper it says "Do you want to be part of the Catholic Templars of Italy? If you believe in Jesus Christ, are more than 18 years old, and are interested in the acts and values of the Poor Knights of Christ, you can be one of us." They've come a long way since serving as armed body-guards during the Crusades!

Very unassuming doorway to the once-powerful Knights Templar

I found the following time-travel scene the other day as they were filming an episode of the Italian t.v. show "L'Amica Geniale" [My Brilliant Friend, after the novels by Italian writer Elena Ferrante] in the Piazza della Signoria. We got to see actors decked out in period costumes (lots of bell-bottoms and big hair!) plus some cute little cars and taxis from the 1960s. Look at the size of that mini-taxi!!

Fiat 600 taxi
L'Amica Geniale [My Brilliant Friend] for Italian t.v.

Saw this giant poster at a local eatery called "La Prosciutteria." Anybody else find it slightly disturbing?!

La Prosciutteria, Firenze

There's a whole series of these fabulous feminist icons in Florence, Rome, and other cities. They're executed by a group of female street artists celebrating "Superwomen" who give us a cheeky wink. You can follow them on social media at @lediesis or check out their Facebook page.

Supermaria (Callas)

This one is pretty accurate: "Modern Solitude/Loneliness"

Meanwhile, 2021 is the 700th anniversary of the death of local author and political figure, Dante Alighieri, so you see him hanging around all over the city:

And finally, I leave you with a question (which is pretty hard to answer these days... I'd have to say "about some things, yes; about other things, hell no").

Are you happy?

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