The Piazza Della Repubblica was the place to be in Florence in the evenings. Tourists and locals alike dined at the restaurants lining the square, student groups gathered, families enjoyed the Carousel, and gypsies and other migrants tried to sell everything from silk scarves to toys..right up until the police arrived and they all magically disappeared.
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Good Literary Impressions in Piazza della Repubblica
To Italians, piazzas are places to people-watch and "fare bella figura," impress the people watching you. During my semester in Florence, I spent hours eating focaccia and watching people walk under the piazza's triumphal arch. And of course, I rode the carousel because I'm a child at heart.
I've always loved Italian literature, so once a week I'd step inside the old world of Caffè Le Giubbe Rosse. The cafe is a legacy from the time of the Risorgimento, when Garibaldi and his army of Giubbe Rosse ("Red Shirts") struggled for national freedom and unity.
But to me, the cafe is also the place where the great Ottocento poet Eugenio Montale thought up anti-conformist poems. It's where journalists Giovanni Papini and Giuseppe Prezzolini discussed ideas for their magazine Leonardo.
Sitting in Giubbe Rosse makes me feel small and at the same time is part of the reason I love teaching Italian and writing about places I've been. Sharing the joy I get from my experiences and learnings multiplies it.
Walking along the streets from Loggia della Mercato Nuovo towards Piazza della Repubblica in Florence, Italy, I chanced upon a couple of street artists creating their works of art, usually replicas of famous paintings, on the streets. I stopped to admire the work and find these really amazing. But beyond just the beauty of the art, there is an interesting story behind them.
First of all, these street artists, called Madonnaros, work on these streets to show off their skills in painting and earn a little bit of money through tips. In Florence, there are about 30 of them who work on rotation. To start off, they have to pay for a license issued by the city to use that block of space for the day. Each day, a pair of two artists or sometimes more, start work early in the morning and have to finish their work at the end of the day (about 8 hours); because when night comes, the street cleaners come to clean the streets, and essentially erase the beautiful work of art. Somehow sad, but there seems to be a sense of fulfillment and passion with these street artists as they send a deep and important message of renewal each day through these paintings.
Here's how I found out about their story :-)