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Piazza della Signoria c. 1900 01/01/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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c. 1900

The old Piazza, which, with the militant beauty of its great tower, is still, as ever, the centre of the city’s life, full of great and grim and splendid memories, offers to-day an almost unique specimen of an open-air museum, free for all who choose to come. There, ancient tapestries are yet hung on the Feast of San Giovanni; there, masterpieces of Florentine sculpture are ever before the people’s eyes. Men sleep through the hot hours in the shadow of the Perseus into which the truculent Benevenuto Cellini welded his enthusiasm, his genius, and all his household plate; and which, though it came into being amid such frenzied excitement, now stands ‘with brow and sword, supremely calm’. Street urchins clamber about the pedestal from which Judith gazes down with stern, set brows. Old crones gossip and gesticulate; wheedling pedlars entreat the unwary tourist to buy ‘Mosaic and postcard, veree cheap!’ under the great loggia where Dominicans and Franciscans gathered on that fatal day when Savonarola refused the trial by fire, and on that other day when Florence sent its prophet to his death.  A modern medallion set in the pavement of this piazza marks the place of his martyrdom, and year by year on the 24 May, where the white smoke rolled and the red fire rose, the Florentines lay flowers in memory of him who, burnt to ashes and borne by the river to the sea, has not even a grave.

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