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Flower Market in the Mercato Nuovo 20/01/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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c. 1890

Usually a bustling crowd pervades the loggia during the hours of noonday. Now the arches are hung with knitted or woven woollen shawls, pale blue, white, vermilion, and striped stockings; and the populace chaffers over prices in the possible purchase of these luxuries. Now the market of straw is held here, golden bundles cut in lengths, and whole sheaves piled up on all sides, with the ruddy country folk standing in groups, their cloaks and coats of many seasons faded to yellowish-green and russet tints, and the women and girls plaiting long strips, their fingers moving with the mechanical rapidity of knitting, as they hover about in the crowd. A few loose straws float in the basin of water at the feet of the Boar, and some children launch a fleet of wild poppies as boats, while their seniors discuss the price of grain. The Flower City of late years, by a happy inspiration, has elected to hold a weekly sale of sweet or rare plants in the loggia. Where could a more beautiful setting be found for a flower-show in any capital?

Our Boar is embedded in bloom, and the sunshine strikes sparks of lustrous gold from the bronze head and shoulders. His aspect is full of benevolence. If he is kin to the wild boars hunted in the Maremma by king or courtier, his tusks do not savagely wound assailants. The contadini may recognize in him a cousin to the lean black pigs, acorn-fed, driven down the Casentino from the Apennines, where the shepherds and the mountaineers make the humble utensils out of pine and beech wood, the ladles, bowls, broom-handles, pepper-boxes, and sieves that go forth over all Italy, Germany, and the Orient in emulation of the French industry of the Vosges. In March weather the columns of the loggia are heaped with pink hyacinths, daffodils, and carnations, starring silvery-gray tendrils of leaves. Another morning the branches of white lilies of waxen  perfection of cup and hue, imitated in silver-work on church altars, and carried by Carlo Dolci’s angel of the Annunziation in the picture of the Pitti Gallery, load the air with a sickly sweetness of heavy perfume. Again, the anemones, crocus, primrose, and violet hold a luxuriant riot of possession of the historical loggia or the homely lilac makes a bower of soft, snowy bloom. The loiterers who frequent the Mercato on such occasions, lured hither by the flowers, like the honey-seeking bees and wasps, have a certain interest to the speculative and philosophical mind, if man’s noblest study be truly mankind.

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