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analysis

Florence, a city with a soul

It’s been a while I feel our lifestyle is too fast, too focused on the mundane and too immediatist. I’ve been reading some amazing books about art history, myths and ancient legends and all this makes me think a lot.

I studied architecture at the university and I remember reading this huge and great book called The History of the City, from Leonardo Benevolo. One of the most interesting things he said was about the way we organize our cities. In the beginning of our history, we organize everything around the temple. For centuries the temple was in the center of our villages and cities. Much of our lives was focused on the divine. If you think about it, we had ziggurats, Greek and Roman temples, Gothic churches, Renascentist churches, Baroque churches… all the other styles that came after had amazing churches and they were in the center of the city, many times the largest and most important building of the community. But that all changed starting with the industrial revolution and modernism. Skyscrapers took over and business towers became the largest buildings in the cities. The sky line of a city was not focused on the divine anymore, a new power took over and changed the way we live forever.

Florence skyline

I was born in this lifestyle. I never lived in a city where the church is the largest building. Nature was not the center of my life either. All the cities I lived in were typical 20th century cities, life rotates around the commercial center, a conglomerate of towers with offices and stores. We live for work and immediate pleasures. There is no bigger mystery or wondering.

How different my life would have been if I had grown up in a city focused on the divine or focused on nature? A city that focus on the human soul and it’s mysteries? Can I slow down and change the way I think? Can I stop focusing on now and start focusing on larger and more permanent things? All these questions motivates me to read about ancient times and different ways of life.

I’ve been to Florence in 2018 and visiting the Cathedral was a magnificent experience. I wish I could go again and again, there is no feeling like entering that church. The contrast of the rich sculpture outside with the austere inside is the first surprise, then you slowly walk across the nave and visualize the unbelievable duomo from the inside, getting higher and higher, as if you can reach an infinite sky of angels.

The duomo from inside

This weekend I watched some documentaries about Florence and it’s Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. The first one is a friendly touristic overview of the city, showing a bit of it’s attractions and history.

The second one is a technical and fascinating investigation on the methods of construction for the duomo.

Thinking about how long the great masters took to create their masterpieces and how life was at that time was very interesting for me. Things took years of dedication, study, perseverance. Art was made for eternity. I want to bring this spirit to my life and be more focused on the soul and less in the everyday things.

How about you? Do you feel life is always rushing? What makes you wonder? Let me know in the comments!

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