Monday, October 24, 2011

Highlight * Street Artists: Story Behind * Exquisite Europe * Florence, Italy (October 2011)

Walking along the streets from Loggia della Mercato Nuovo towards Piazza della Repubblica in Florence, Italy, I chanced upon a couple of street artists creating their works of art, usually replicas of famous paintings, on the streets. I stopped to admire the work and find these really amazing. But beyond just the beauty of the art, there is an interesting story behind them.

First of all, these street artists, called Madonnaros, work on these streets to show off their skills in painting and earn a little bit of money through tips. In Florence, there are about 30 of them who work on rotation. To start off, they have to pay for a license issued by the city to use that block of space for the day. Each day, a pair of two artists or sometimes more, start work early in the morning and have to finish their work at the end of the day (about 8 hours); because when night comes, the street cleaners come to clean the streets, and essentially erase the beautiful work of art. Somehow sad, but there seems to be a sense of fulfillment and passion with these street artists as they send a deep and important message of renewal each day through these paintings.

Here's how I found out about their story :-)

Note: This highlight also appears in AFAR Website

Highlight * Try Your Porcellini Luck * Exquisite Europe * Florence, Italy (October 2011)

When you visit the area of the Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Republica in Florence, don't miss this interesting attraction. From Piazza della Signoria, walk towards Piazza della Republica, and on the left side, you'll see Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, which means New Market. It is an open building which houses stalls that sell all sorts of stuff from leathers to clothes, to souvenirs.

On one side of the building, you'll find the Fontana del Porcellino (Porcellino Fountain). Go there and rub the wild boar's nose for good luck. After that, put a coin on the tongue and let it fall with the water into the metal grate below it. It is believed that if your coin falls through below the grate, you will have good luck.

I was observing this group of American tourists trying out their luck here. After a few failed tries, one of the woman in the group made a comment about her friends being cheapskates as they have put only a penny. Apparently, the way the tongue is angled, is that only heavier coins fall through the grate. And truly enough, when the woman put in a quarter instead of a penny, it fell through :-)

It's one of those cheap thrills where you wish for good luck. Well, you never know! You might have the Porcellino luck :-)

Note: This highlight also appears in AFAR Website

Highlight * Mesmerized by the music of Piotr Tomaszewski * Exquisite Europe * Florence, Italy (October 2011)

I was walking around taking photos at the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy, while waiting for my friend.

As the evening draws near, I found myself enjoying the sculptures inside the Loggia dei Lanzi, which I was not able to visit in detail the last time I was in Florence. I could not forget the statue of Perseus, which amazed my nephew during our previous trip. He couldn't believe his eyes as he realized he was standing there with the statue in front of him, which he would only read about in books :-)

Then suddenly, whilst lost in my thoughts, I heard beautiful classical music playing. I looked around and noticed this guy playing live with his guitar at open intersection just to the side of the Loggia dei Lanzi going towards the direction of the walkway outside the famous Uffizi Gallery.

His music "mesmerized" me! I sat along with a few other people to enjoy the music and the warm ambiance around. The mood was romantic, it was dreamy, it was inspiring, it was passionate, it was relaxing... it gave me goose bumps!

I would have sat there for hours if not for the rain that fell. I quickly went and got one of his CDs titled Los Colores de la Guitarra, which I still play from time to time, reminiscing that unforgettable moment.

I later learned that he is a Polish classical guitarist who have won several awards and travels around Europe and US to perform. He currently performs in the streets of Florence, usually near the Uffizi Gallery, where I saw him play.

Note: This highlight also appears in AFAR Website