Florence, Still the Sexy City of Mystery and Magic Alleyways

Like Bologna, the men of Florence smell good and the women who even look unattractive are gorgeous.  Men smell of that cool Brilliantine early in the morning wafting that lemony Eau de Cologne, yet again, I can wash in that smell for the rest of my life.  The ladies laughing at 9 am with brick red lipstick, a Nazionale cigarette in hand, swinging a Gina Lollobrigida purse in the other hand, I can only visualize these are the spiritual sisters of Sophia Loren, Anna Magnani and Silvana Mangano, the flair, the sophistication and the iconic style is overwhelming me at 9 am.

Florence, the streets, the alleyways and the magnificence of the Duomo.  What can I say that is not said 1 million times.

Well, here is the gossip.  I heard there was a pool inside the baptistry of St. John, built in 5th century bc.  The smaller building next to the Duomo Church was a Roman house later transferred into achurch, designed with 8 sides to the building.  It is said when you went through the door called THE DOOR OF PARADISE, there was a pool and the interior was designed to follow a flower design form dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  What you did in the pool?  Salvation?  Redemption or just a cool plunge to refresh?

I recommend the Ciao Florence tours.  Our guide was a lovely enthusiastic charismatic wonder of a young lady.  She truly brought to life the Renaissance Florence.  Our young lady mentioned a few things:

The main guy who should be mentioned when thinking about the Renaissance and Florence is Lorenzo il Magnifico who ruled 1469 to 1492.  He was the top guy.  He fostered art, music, poetry, turning Florence into Italy’s cultural capital.  After Lorenzo’s death the Medici bank failed and the family was driven out of Florence and the city fell under the control of Savonarola, the monk.

And Savonarola was a tricky but curious guy.

Girolamo Savonarola (21 September 1452 – 23 May 1498) was an Italian Dominican friar and preacher active in Renaissance Florence. He was known for his prophecies of civic glory, the destruction of secular art and culture, and his calls for Christian renewal.  He denounced clerical corruption, despotic rule and the exploitation of the poor.  He prophesied the coming of a biblical flood. In September 1494, when Charles VIII of France invaded Italy and threatened Florence, such prophesies seemed on the verge of fulfillment.  While Savonarola intervened with the French king, the Florentines expelled the ruling Medici and, at the friar’s urging, established a “popular” republic.  Declaring that Florence would be the New Jerusalem, the world center of Christianity and “richer, more powerful, more glorious than ever”, he instituted an extreme puritanical campaign, enlisting the active help of Florentine youth.

In 1495 when Florence refused to join Pope Alexander VI’s Holy League against the French, the Vatican summoned Savonarola to Rome.  He disobeyed and further defied the pope by preaching under a ban, highlighting his campaign for reform with processions, bonfires of the vanities, and pious theatricals.  In retaliation, the Pope excommunicated him in May 1497, and threatened to place Florence under an interdict.  A trial by fire proposed by a rival Florentine preacher in April 1498 to test Savonarola’s divine mandate turned into a fiasco, and popular opinion turned against him.  Savonarola and two of his supporting friars were imprisoned.  Under torture, Savonarola confessed that he had invented his visions and prophecies.  On May 23, 1498, Church and civil authorities condemned, hanged, and burned the three friars in the main square of Florence. Savonarola’s devotees, the Piagnoni, kept his cause of republican freedom and religious reform alive well into the following century, although the Medici—restored to power in 1512 with the help of the papacy—eventually broke the movement.

One little tidbit:  I asked the b&b I stayed in where is a cool little cafe I can wander to and hang out and he mentioned a place on:  Via de Macci called Cibreo.  Wow, what a bustling space, like a more modern day Tabacceria (sadly I wish it had that old architecture but it obviously has been modernized), a counter for coffee,  little chocolates, candies, cigarettes, etc.  They have a restaurant next door and they seem to own the corner which is right next to the local produce market and semi fabric, jumble sale space.

Fabio is a star, with several published books and TV shows, with a characteristic charm that allows him to be a master, either in the kitchen or in the marketing, with which he developed his restaurants. Currently, Cibrèo is more than a restaurant by the Sant’Ambrogio’s market and the Santa Croce’s Church; it is a mandatory stop to any foreigner who wants to meet the basis of the traditional recipes, in an elegant and refined space, where the service is one of the strengths. Starting with the menu, we might as well say that it doesn’t exist, the starters (20) and the main courses (36) are described by a cordial team member that seats at the table with the inmates, debating the offerings of the day with the personal tastes of each person. A different approach that stimulates a positive interaction with the costumers, although it’s not always easy to remember all the proposals in the moment of choosing.

This is from Flavor and Sense blog Florence!

I recall this city from my 1997 adventure.  I wandered down the humid stoned pavements taking in the sound of shoes on the stone with its dark and nimble buildings but it was the alleyways, narrow, dark, haunting that lassoed me in!  There was always something lurking, something from another time reminding you of an energy that was hard to pinpoint.  Dante’s Beatrice?  The Medici’s and their ruthless rule with power and dominion and more power always compelling for more.  I felt the city was no longer the city I remember for now it was inundated with millions of American students and this was tremendously distressing.   I mean, Irish pubs?  In Florence?  Please.   I don’t want to know why and how and where.  But it exists and it kept me up night after night.  I can only think what the poor old ladies who have lived in Florence all their lives must think.  Tragic,  but it is the way of all cities even the most ancient ones, sadly.

I am not disregarding the issues that are taking over Italy and all of Europe, which is migrants, refugees and a mass of people fleeing poverty, war and suffering that are making their way to Italy, Greece, etc.

It is an issue I don’t think I will cover, as it is too overwhelming to me and so controversial.  Most of the time I’m overwhelmed by the world.  I stand for human rights, equality, and a right for free movement, but the situation is so out of hand!  On this forum I will pass discussing it, maybe for a later time.

Cannot speak of Florence without the gorgeous Gucci Museum!  Oh my God!  A small plastic bag I think costs 20 Euros.  Oy vey!  A Mensch can dream!

Yes, a Gucci Cadillac (Wow wow wow!) for all you people who are obsessed with THE GET DOWN from Netflix?  This is for you Baz Luhrman!!

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