Masks and marionettes…
In the street stalls and in the shops: elaborately sequinned and feathered masks of all sizes and shapes, and Pinocchio marionettes, pencils, pictures and paraphernalia.
Apparently, Florence was the birth- and resting-place of Carlo Lorenzini (1826 – 1890), who (as Carlo Collodi) wrote the original stories of the woodcarver Geppetto and the marionette he crafted and named Pinocchio.
This is one of the many facts about Florence or Firenze that I didn’t know before visiting that fabled city last week.
My daughter and I were taking advantage of a cheap deal: one of those last-minute-specials that are available in Europe if you are willing to weekend with no more than you can carry in one small bag. Whatever I learned about the birthplace of the Renaissance in art history I had long-since forgotten, and my knowledge of the Medici family and the religious and political struggles in Italy is negligible.
So, before going, I looked Florence up on the web, and found a Top 10 Things to Do list, which I scanned and emailed to my daughter. But, we’ve been busy. By the time I was on the plane, I couldn’t remember anything about the art and the museums; all I could remember was the instruction to eat two scoops of gelato a day. I can do that!
My daughter wanted to see David, who (for reasons of modesty?) declined to be photographed. So, we had three days and two tasks: David and gelato. Lots and lots of gelato.
It didn’t take long, walking through the streets and markets, to realise that while Florence is the home of masks (which I had thought of as Venetian) and marionettes (which I hadn’t thought about at all), it is also home to all kinds of beauty, in leather, glass, ceramics, paper and jewels.
The beauty of Florence is in its streets; in its world-renowned architecture.
Of course, people-watching is much more fun than architecture, and Italy is always a treat.
The city was bathed in heat and light – a wonderful change from the rain and overcast I’d been enduring for the previous five weeks in England, Ireland and Wales. I fully understand why people love the city – I’d go back any day, and not just for the gelato.
But, I’d be sure to have my two scoops a day!