Another attempt at travel writing, late posting.
I have been in this fascinating city for over a month now and I am able find my way around much quicker than that first night, no map needed. The Arno River I cross on my way to class each morning has not lost its charm. Nor have the views of the Ponte Vecchio, the picturesque side streets, or the cappuccino and nutella croissant I regularly have for breakfast. Leaving my routinely visited morning café, I place my empty cup and plate on the counter and wave “grazie!” to the barista. Not having class for the rest of the day, I decide to take a walk over to the Piazza della Signoria.
Entering the piazza in February is wonderful, the tourists are minimal but the atmosphere is still pleasantly upbeat. I walk past the young children on scooters and the many dog walkers to get a better look at the statues in the distance. This “L” shaped belt of open space is much larger in person than it is in pictures. It is surrounded by cafés and restaurants and perfectly frames its corner piece: the Palazzo Vecchio. The setting of this grand building gives it the appearance of importance, like standing in the courtyard of a castle. Dipping my face into my scarf I peer up at the different works of art as I pass them by. I see a garden of statues to my right. This similar shade of green I find everywhere, a bit darker now before me it stands tall in the form of Perseus holding Medusa’s head.
I challenge its authenticity, as Perseus and Medusa were, in fact, Greek. This is something I find trending in Italy, Greek statues. I shake my head and think of moving forward, when I catch Perseus’s eyes from the corner of my own. He is looking down, a gleam of sadness in his expression. I begin to feel different about this Perseus; different than the one I have known through Greek mythology. He is supposed to be triumphant in his victory! Instead, he looks to the ground at her limp remains, the same expression mirrored on her severed head. This could be the Italian depiction of a Greek myth, a guilt ridden Perseus, one who does not boast as the legend leads us to believe. Others see his confident stance, his brawn muscles, and the lifeless corpse beneath his feet. I see an artist’s depiction of the humble man behind the victory. Not a merciless God. For a hero, he appears almost blameworthy about what has transpired.
Medusa was not always an evil monster, but cursed to live the rest of her days as one. The observer at a glance may not know this. He only sees a soulless monster defeated by a skilled warrior. He sees strength in Perseus’ posture and blood dripping off his hands. Still, one does not need to know the backstory to understand the pained look on his facial expression. Perhaps it is just my depiction and this was not what the artist was trying to say at all. The statue is dipped in green. As my observations of Florence go, maybe this suggests that we should look up to Perseus for his grand triumph. The observer should feel almost envious of his strength and capabilities, as the rest of Florence brags its strength and capabilities. I still believe that in this particular depiction, however, Perseus is not as proud as his is humbled.
The first part of this travel piece was posted here. It explains the Duomo di Firenze, the last part will be posted sometime this week and is about the sexiest man in Florence, David.