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A letter to Monos
A farewell to Florence
Florence, November 10, 2022
As we prepare to leave Florence in a few weeks after a one-year stay, comes the inevitable question: what to pack? After some deliberation we decided to sew together our memories and carefully fold them into you, trusting you, accustomed to containing personal belongings, will understand their fragility and need to be handled with care. We will attempt to be chronological but may deviate from this decision from time to time. We do hope it won’t be confusing.
It is so cold. And raining. It feels just like we stepped into a film set, those they pour water on purpose to have the reflecting light effect. DUOMO Finding a photo automatic machine, such an old-fashioned apparatus, standing there on the sidewalk next to a centuries-old building, warmed us. Randomly walking and coming across a mythological figure in the form of a fountain. It was worth braving the cold weather. Fog envelops the DUOMO, and like reality, all seems unreal. Should reality always be approached with foggy weather in mind? Typefaces from the 70’s are everywhere. Was that a prosperous decade? Or beloved? Or both? I have come to love brutalist architecture, old factories, old train stations, built with such sternness in mind. STONES Where are the trees? Where is the greenery? We were taken to an atrium, so lush with plants, a skylight and warmth. Could not help but go back often. Like entering a womb, in and out; in and out; in and out. DUOMO Pandoro should be granted world heritage status.
Found a minimalist Robert Morris sculpture, Four for Donatello! at the cloister of a cathedral. Four slanted grey cubes sprouting from the earth. What a surprise. OGGI CHIUSO, DOMANI SI VEDRÀ. A rainbow, just outside our window, folding onto the DUOMO: one will live but a few minutes, the other forever. Cascade of glass tiles, such genius. The brutalist architecture is growing on me. Their typefaces are so condensed, so skinny we could fit an entire novel on the façade. That might be a good idea: performatic literature in dialogue with architecture (has this been done already?). The Uffizzi, can’t get enough of it. Those monothematic paintings sitting side by side with sculptures from antiquity. There women can be seen as covered virgins and uncovered goddesses. Such a confusing message. Then there was the PRIMAVERA, ahhh the primavera. I finally got to what Isadora saw, life springing into form. We found original Bauhaus lamps at a flea market. Signed. Europe is fun. We go to Bardini almost every week. Just miss nature so much. Have I taken it for granted before?
Train movement makes me sleepy. Milano smells familiar, exciting even. We love smog, noisy cities and the subway. The opera feels like red velvet, sounds like the past and smells like champagne. We were surprised to find out another nation extends its geography elsewhere by owning land and funding artists. Europe is after all a union of nations eh! Finding a Jane Fonda workout vinyl by the Adriatic Sea was one of those happy surprises. Have you heard it? DOLCE FAR NIENTE Porto Ercole embraced us for our 10th anniversary celebration. What can I say? Italians just do it better.
One more nationality. Can we collect these? I seem to be working on it. The synchronicity of this last one amazed me though. My husband leaves. My family arrives. They know more about Florence than I do and are on a schedule. Oh well, family is always painfully fun. Like eating roasted chicken on any given Sunday. It’s just chicken, but it’s all we want and need and hope for. Sharing bed with my mother smells of childhood. Men in purple shirts run around a carrousel.
DUOMO Giotto’s bells ring franctilly at a quarter to 8. Not a ding ding ding eight times. Of course not, how could it be, it’s 7:45. DUOMO How do we represent it in dings? And why not long melodious dings? Why the pounding on the poor metal? Have religious calls changed since I last noticed? Have the faithful gone a bit deaf? However, I learned to love our bell. Why do things have to make so much sense anyways?
Arno’s views are so spectacular. Its reflections doubles Florence: one fixed city and one trembling city. TOURISTS TOURISTS TOURISTS Tourism should be outlawed. Maybe we should close towns’ doors as was done in medieval times, when they reach capacity.
Mountains around Carrarra are slashed, and their insides white. Tadam! Cinque Terre, on the other hand, is green. And geometric. Church is striped black and white. Floors are designed in black & white diamond-shaped granite slabs. And skulls are everywhere. (Note to self: ask Anabella about the skulls.) Could all this geometry be influenced by Moorish or Arabic visual cultures? Research architecture influence in Liguria.
CHANGING PLACE. CHANGING TIME. CHANGING THOUGHTS. CHANGING FUTURE.
Venice is proud of its mysteries. She won’t reveal herself easily or to just anyone. We weren’t the chosen ones. Not yet. Need to return. TOURISTS TOURISTS TOURISTS Urgent need of uncontaminated nature took us to Val D’Orcia - un’ampia campagna situata in Toscana, nella provincia di Siena, a nord e a est del monte Amiata e vicina al confine con l’Umbria - where we spend unforgettable days contemplating its splendor. The rolling hills are exactly how you may have imagined them to be: cultivated yet wild. Ancient. Patiently looking back at you, as if saying: “Everything is going to be okay. Look at us, we’ve been here for centuries”. Firenze DUOMO seen from Fiesole. We tend to go back to Neptune’s fountain. Ours is an intimate friendship as can happen with firsts: kiss, sex, and fountain encounters.
Found a small leather blank notebook with the words Logins and Passwords printed in silver on the cover. Thought it the perfect example of past and present meeting each other halfway and doing what each can to Adapt. Understand. I was even tempted to name this letter after it, but then realized letters don’t have names. Oh well.
France, that loved and memorized choreography. Friends, ocean, sun, sand, and baguette. Bah oui. Next: learn Italian moves.
Back to school. DUOMO Got a strapless bra. Walked for an hour up the hills of Florence to discover a wonderful trattoria. Had tons of fun at a hard-to-find Chinese karaoke. Wrote a critical text (uff). Photographed Pontasieve (have you ever been?). Visited Rome; became eternal; then died. What else is there to do after seeing Rome? Seeing Napoli, of course! Went to Napoli, and died again. We die lovely deaths in Italy.
Mounted an exhibition IED, a public program STROZZI, and a catalog ANDREA 11 breaths in unison: Vero, Bea, Ana, Le, Elena S, Elena G, Sara, Shana, Marica, Yoli.
CI RITROVEREMO DAVANTI AD UN TAVOLO, A NUTRICI DI RICORDI
Full moon + eclipse. My instincts take me back to my fountain. Perhaps to check on my friend? Perhaps to ask for its ancient wisdom? It too may not be an original (then again what is?) but boy does it hold itself together well.