Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #51: Unique

In response to Amy’s prompt for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #51, I’ve selected photos which highlight Florence, a unique Italian city.   But why is it unique?

Its Living History

A city-size shrine to the Renaissance, Florence offers frescoes, sculptures, churches, palaces, and other monuments from the richest cultural flowering the world has known. –National Geographic

In Florence, the past informs and still dominates the present.  To prove this, I’ll give you three examples.

  1. Saltless Bread:  Modern-day visitors are surprised that traditional Florentine bread has no salt.  Why?  Two popular theories rely on events dating from the Middle Ages.  One camp blames Florence’s warring neighbors from Pisa who blockaded the ports and stopped the shipments of salt to Florence hundreds of years ago.  Another camp says it was a revolt against a salt tax also dating from the Middle Ages.  Regardless of the reason, Florentines still keep their tradition of making saltless bread.
  2. The Calcio Storico:  In the summer, Florence hosts the calcio storico–an ancient game from the Middle Ages–a precursor to our modern-day soccer and rugby.  The warring Florentine teams play calcio with a brutal intensity and no protective gear.  Players are free to use any means to score, including fistfights.  The only rule is that players fight one-on-one only.
  3. Renaissance Splendor:  Finally, Florence still remains the epicenter of the Renaissance-where the artistic luminaries such as: Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michelangelo, created some of their finest work in this city.  It’s a visual feast for art lovers.

Detail, North Door, Baptistery. Andrea Pisano.

Its Architecture

In Florence, classical buildings sit against medieval buildings. It’s that contrast we like.~Richard Rogers

In this photo you can see how the Baptistery and the Duomo, which date back to the 1300’s, still dominate the modern skyline in Florence ,where every-day life coexists with Renaissance splendor.

Its Light

To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature.” – Mark Twain
When you spend time in Florence, you can see why it has inspired scores of artists.  The light at sunrise and sunset is golden and casts marvelous shadows.  In this photo, you can see another example of its uniqueness in this medieval mail slot.

Its Ambience

Stand on a bridge over the Arno river several times in a day and the light, mood and view changes every time. Firenze is magnetic, romantic and busy. Its urban fabric has hardly changed since the Renaissance, its narrow streets evoke a thousand tales, and its food and wine are so wonderful the tag ‘Fiorentina’ has become an international label of quality assurance. – Lonely Planet

One of my favorite Italian expressions sums up the atmosphere in Florence.  It is “Dolce far Niente,” which means “the sweetness of doing nothing.”  This doesn’t mean “doing nothing” in the literal sense.  Instead, it communicates the simple joy we can get from savoring the moment.  For Florentines, this might mean taking a stroll (fare una passeggiata) around the city at dusk, or meeting friends at a cafe, an enoteca, or a park along the Arno.

Sunset Conversation. Florence, Italy

Its Poet Laureate

Three things remain with us from paradise: stars, flowers and children.~Dante Alighieri

Finally, there’s Dante, the poet laureate of Florence, who wrote his legendary Divine Comedy in the 1300’s.  However, his allegory of political intrigue and journey through hell, purgatory, and paradise still resonate with us today.  This famous “son” of Florence is honored in the Piazza Santa Croce.

A special thanks to Amy for this week’s photo inspiration and a chance to share my love of Florence.  Stop by her The World is A Book blog to see her challenge post.  Next week, it’s Tina’s turn to host the challenge, so be sure to visit her Travels and Trifles blog.

If you’re new to our challenges, click here to learn how to join us.  Remember to link your post to the theme announcement and tag it Lens-Artists to help us find it in the WP Reader.

As always, Amy, Tina, Ann-Christine, and I are delighted that you’re joining us!  Wishing you a wonderful, inspiring week!

45 replies »

  1. I’m just back from Florence and it was a heady treat to relive my experiences via your post . By the way, I kept my eyes peeled for all those wonderful door knockers and street art by Blub I discovered through your earlier posts. Florence is indeed magnificent!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Florence, a beautiful city with splendid history.
    Beautiful photos, words, and quotes for this unique city. I feel like “I had opened the old book again…” (“Italian Hours” by Henry James). Love this post, Patti!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Amy. I’m delighted you like this one. As you can tell, Florence has captivated me. 🙂 🙂 And I should read the “Italian Hours.” 🙂 It’s a classic.


  3. Superb travel review Patti! Once one has been to Florence it’s never to be forgotten. Your beautiful images were a marvelous reminder of a fond memory. Loved the Twain quote and your Italian — just showing off ! LOL😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful collection. I love that second photo: the sunlight and the grotesque on the wall. I went around Firenze one day taking photos of walls coming alive in sunlight. That conversation by the Arno is another beauty.


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