Florence – Via dei Calzaiuoli and around

Florence – Via dei Calzaiuoli and around

On time, when it is not possible to walk in Piazza della Signoria, via dei Calzaiuoli has no competition for an evening stroll, that is, passeggiata. Two different "economic systems" operate here: by day, jewelry stores and boutiques win millions of lire, and after dark, mainly Senegalese street traders with counterfeit Louis Yuitton bags and Lacoste polo shirts move in here. Every now and then, the police chase the vendors away in an unsuccessful ritual without conviction, which sometimes includes musicians as well, acrobats and terrible pantomimics, performing here on summer evenings. Seems, that for some reason the readers of the hand and tarot cards are spared, maybe that's why, that the Florentine police are equally superstitious, like the whole population.


Many of the exhibits in Bargello were moved from the building dominating this street, square church of Orsanmichele, which serves as a military tower one block away from Piazza della Signoria. From IX to XIII w. the church of San Michele ad horlum stood here - hence Orsanmichele. At the end of the 13th century. a grain market was established here, replaced after a fire in 1304 r. a huge loggia, which served as an oratory and market hall for arti maggiori, great guilds, ruling the city at the time. W 1380 r. the loggia was enclosed with walls and was used only for religious purposes, two storeys were added for emergency grain stocks.! Shortly thereafter, the guild was tasked with decorating one of the outer tabernacles of the building, which coincided with the beginning of the Renaissance.

The building is currently being renovated, so there is little chance of seeing all the sculptures outside, but some of the more important works should be in their assigned places. The following sculptures stand out: on the eastern side (via dei Calzaiuoli) John the Baptist of Ghiberti, the first life-size bronze sculpture in the Renaissance and the Unfaithful Thomas Verrocchia; on the north side - The four crowned saints of Nanni di Banco (they were four Christian sculptors murdered by Diocletian for refusing to make a pagan image) and a copy of St.. George Donatello; from the west - Śh>. Matthew and St.. Stefan Ghiberti and St.. Eligiusz Nanniego from Banco; on the south side - Madonna and Child, probably by Giovanni Tedesco.

To get to the square nave of the church, it is necessary to bypass the main element of the interior, the huge tabernacle of the Orcagni work; decorated with delicate bas-reliefs’ and tiny statues and a ciborium inlaid with colored marble and glass is the only significant sculptural work of the artist. It surrounds the Madonna painted in 1347 r. by Bernarda Daddi, placed in the place of the fire destroyed in a fire 1304 r. the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary, the power of which the new image is said to have inherited. The vaulted granary halls upstairs - one of the most impressive medieval interiors in the city - are accessed over a bridge from the Palazzo delPArte della Lana (features of woolen); as a rule, it can only be entered during exhibitions.


From the back of the Orsanmichele church, you walk a bit to Piazza della Repubblica, created in the last century, as there should be a public square in every capital city. It is a completely characterless place, only impressive in size, while four large and once fashionable cafes - Donnini, Giubhe Rossa, Gilli and Paszkowski - also lack mood and style, to which they aspire. The last of this quartet has recently sparked discussions about racism in Italy, the existence of which is often denied, by hiring a black waiter; the move sparked threatening letters and a boycott of coffee shops.

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