The tolling of the bells: the heartbeat of Florence

The tolling of the bells: the heartbeat of Florence

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

Not everything in Florence is a matter of renaissance «facade». The city could be experienced by sight, but also by taste, its smells, trough touching as well as through hearing. I hate traffic noise, but I love the rumour of the crowd and the Florentine bells. In my different stays, it has been impossible for me to avoid the ones of Santa Croce, of the Duomo, neither of San Lorenzo´s. The bells produce an energetic and penetrating sound but always embody some relaxing and peaceful vibe, spiritual purposes aside. I like to think that the sound of the bells equals the heartbeat of the city. One that has lived for so many centuries but remains alive, flourishing and young at heart. Indeed, I feel offended when a visitor complains about this particular sound. That certainly unveils my true love for this city.

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Monica Magnani’s Florence

Monica Magnani’s Florence

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Se qualcuno mi dice ‘Firenze’ la prima cosa che mi viene in mente è fuggire via. Firenze, a volte, io la guardo e mi sembra diventata un luogo comune, un cliché inventato per far contenti i turisti. Firenze per la nave da crociera è il percorso di due ore, per gli amanti clandestini è la città di un fine-settimana, per le famiglie sono i musei delle vacanze di Pasqua, per le gite scolastiche è il capitolo sul Rinascimento, per gli animi malinconici è lo struggimento della sindrome di Stendhal. Io, da questa Firenze, ho continuamente voglia di scappare e forse mi piace proprio perché, poi, quando sono fuggita via dai luoghi comuni, è così bello aver nostalgia di questa città! Firenze, per chi ha voglia di scappare, ha molte vie di fuga: per alcune ci vuole un mezzo di trasporto, per altre, invece, basta un paio di scarpe comode.

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Before sunset at Ponte alla Carraia

Before sunset at Ponte alla Carraia

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During the spring and summer evenings, when the Arno River runs low, Ponte alla Carraia grants one of the most picturesque sights of Florence. An isle in the middle of the river called Pescaia di Santa Rosa — between Ponte Amerigo Vespucci and Ponte alla Carraia — stands as a sort of no man’s land and becomes the spot where young people get together for a beer, a chat or share a joint. The water drop reaches three meters, thus the force of the current is considerable. However, whereas the bridge helps to maintain the natural flow of the river, the area close to Oltrarno remains dry and passable. Moreover, here the town flourishes against the light, a top scene for those in love with melancholic sunsets in Florence.…

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María Muñoz´s Florence

María Muñoz´s Florence

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Trapped time in Florence

I have returned to Florence after almost thirty years. Although I had no corporeal memories of my presence in the different places, I did have visual memories, probably because Florence is one of the most photographed cities on the planet, and is part of the collective memory of many, at least in the West. My studies in art history and the monographs I did about Leonardo, Florentine himself, and Michelangelo, whose artistic life began in the Florence of the Medici, might have help to keep that memory. Apart from the spatial and visual experience, the latter of unquestionable beauty, which, according to Stendhal, even hurts; there is another characteristic that in my opinion, is explicitly Florentine. And I do not mean the public sculptures, nor the symmetrical facades of the churches and palaces, nor the marbles of different tonalities, neither the perspectives of their perfectly cobbled streets.

I’m referring to the ‘trapped time’.

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When arriving and departing are just the two sides of the same trip

When arriving and departing are just the two sides of the same trip

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

What I enjoy most in life is my extended visits to Florence with no plans, neither a date to leave. When you live among three cities, it is difficult to determine which one becomes your home or which your identity is. There are places that I feel more like my house, even if I don´t reside most of the year there. This is what happens with Florence. «Arriving and departing are just the two sides of the same trip, the train that arrives is the same train that has to leave. The time of the meeting is also of the farewell.» This is what the Brazilian soloist Maria Rita sings in her mythical song «Encontros e despedidas.» «Life is repeated in one station. Every day is a sway. There are people who arrive to stay, there are people who leave forever, there are people who come and want to go back, there are some who come and want to stay. Others just came to look around, whereas there are people who came to dream and others to laugh and cry … Thus, the platform of the station is the life of this place of mine. It is life in itself.»

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Berlin vs. Florence: comparisons game

Berlin vs. Florence: comparisons game

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

As I arrived in Berlin, I remember being fascinated by its wide sidewalks, streets and avenues. I sense the opposite in Florence, where a car hardly fits in its streets and maximum two people can meet on the sidewalks. In Berlin, I might just longed for distance. Now I search for proximity. Closeness. They say that Berlin is a cosmopolitan city, but in Florence I hear everyday languages that I could never identify. Florence windows are not double-glazed. Not so isolated like those in Berlin. I get up sometimes at night to check that mine are not open …The city enters my room as if I really lived in the street. And I do not care, because I know all of these little bits, together, are called life.

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Martina Castagnoli´s Florence

Martina Castagnoli´s Florence

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Se mi chiedi qual’è la mia città, infondo penso che forse è la cristallizzazione della mia idea di Firenze e non so neanche se davvero esiste più, ma vi ci porto lo stesso … Magari riuscirete anche voi a vedere un po’ di quell’incanto con cui la guardo io. La mia città, quando la vedi dall’alto, riesci a cingerla tutta in un abbraccio e i tetti rossi le conferiscono quell’aria rassicurante come lo sono certi oggetti del passato, che ti riportano alla tua infanzia, che quasi ti sembra di sentirne l’odore di naftalina che avevano i cassetti delle nonne.…

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Carla Macis´ Florence

Carla Macis´ Florence

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Ho due città: una del cuore e una dell’anima. Cagliari è la mia città del cuore, mentre Firenze è quella dell’anima. A Firenze vivo da quando avevo 19 anni, ma non pensavo che mi sarei trattenuta a viverci, ma è successo. Piano piano «ci siamo scelte» ed è diventata l’unica città dove avrei potuto vivere per poter fare il mio lavoro, che mi consente di avere tante relazioni e un buon «know how». Mi piace la sua dimensione internazionale, ma anche la piccola dimensione e l’incanto che provo ogni volta che ancora dopo 33 anni riesce a suscitarmi.…

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Maie Escorial´s Florence

Maie Escorial´s Florence

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It is obvious that Florence has a thousand faces, this is something that stands out as soon as you get there. It has so much historical and architectural background that if you wanted to go into detail, it would take hours round a corner. During my autumn escape from daily routine, I was carried away by the streets and wandered around with pleasure, climbing, descending and crossing them. I found out that autumn had not even begun in Florence, therefore it seems like October is the perfect time to visit the city so one can feel the end of summer, take an Aperol spritz while enjoying a relaxed atmosphere surrounded by terraces full of people.…

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Christine De Melo´s Florence

Christine De Melo´s Florence

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My Portuguese parents arrived in the US with nothing but the will to succeed. I fell in love with art, history, and architecture at a young age and longed to see the works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, and Botticelli. Being firstborn to poor immigrants meant that I grew up with few prospects—Italy may as well have been the moon.…

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