Tag Archives: Florence

Tuscany: Privileges and Power

21 May

So…I’ve actually been in Italy since Wednesday, but access to “da innanets” has been limited and sporadic to say the least. We arrived in Florence on Wednesday and spent the day there.  I was able to see this guy in person:

That was as impressive as it seems.  Walking around Florence and going in and out of churches and duo so, I was able to see something that sets Italy a part from other former imperialist countries.  Usually you go into churches and you see gold and glitz and opulence, but here, there was a focus on the marble and stone work.  David, being a statute carved entirely out of marble and intended to sit in front of a church.

I am accustomed to seeing colonial powers and imperial powers showing off riches as a means of asserting power, but Italy as a different M.O.  Italy uses marble as the means of showing its power.  Stay with me:  All of the work and effort it takes to carve out marble, the cut the stone, to sand and polish the stone, all takes advances in technology.  To show this off is churches is a sort of rhetorical positioning, a testament to how strong they were.

It’s fascinating really!  To think about how much it would take to cut and carve marble, and then to place all of that in places of prominence and influence like the church, says just how powerful Italy wanted to appear to its citizens and the rest of the world.  Now mind, you, I have not been to Vatican City yet, so all this may very well change once I see the museum there and the Sistine Chapel…

This brings me to another point, how great minds are valued here.  At Santa Croce, a church in Florence, just about every great Italian mind and artist can be found there:

Macchiavelli ‘s crypt

Michaelangelo’s Crypt (I had to do a panoramic shot in order to get the whole thing!)

Dante’s crypt (always the thinker even in death)

Galileo’s crypt

I was a bit mesmerized by the veneration of thinkers and artists at Santa Croce.  Being honored just as much as the Medicis in the same church.  It shows the impact of not only these men on many lives and the world, but also how much it is appreciated by the Italians that they are honored almost like royalty.  As a US citizen, I am a bit jealous, we don’t do as much for ALL of our great contributors (many of the non-profit organizations that are trying to maintain Monticello, Frederick Douglass’s Home, the King family home, etc. are STRUGGLING).  I wonder what some of our historic landmarks would look like , what urban sprawl and gentrification would look like if we honored the homes, burial sites and the like of ALL of the great thinkers and contributors to US society?  Notice, I am emphasizing ALL here.  No need to place your comment about the memorials in DC to certain presidents and leaders, no need to add your two cents about Mount Rushmore or Mount Vernon.  I am thinking primarily about those thinkers who revolutionized our understanding of the marginalized (ahem, BLACK away from Home).  How’s Susan B. Anthony’s house hanging in Rochester?  Is it preserved to the nines? What about WEB DuBois’s House?  Anna Julia Cooper’s? There is something to say about the way we pay tribute to those who made great changes to how we see the world.  I have much respect for the way Italy is doing it.

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