February 9, 2016

Rocettini

"Rocettini"
12" x 16"
Acrylic on panel

Here's a fairly straightforward depiction of the Via Rocettini, a short walk from where we live in Florence.

I think most folks'd say the street was nothing to write home about: it's sidewalkless and narrow, the cars go fast, it's a killer to climb, and the homes at the roadside are moderate compared to those in Florence below or Fiesole above. And anyway, most people in the area are involved with the European University Institute, so they just crack out their swipe cards and cut through the grounds, avoiding the street.

But for some reason I like to walk it. There's a persimmon tree overflowing with fruit that no one has picked, just out of reach over a wall (or I would've picked it already), and I'm always curious to know whether my next trek up will be the day it's pecked or stripped bare.


I also can't help think of the Romans en route to sacking the indigenous Etruscans, making their way from their settlement in Florence, unloading in the Mugnone River a stone's throw away, and trudging up the same road to Fiesole, the old bastion of the Etruscans.


Then there's the Badia, the thousand-year-old abbey that Brunelleschi helped to restore during the Renaissance, whose marble facade has been covered the whole time we've been here. I go up hoping to be the first to see the newly facelifted church (actually, I've peeked behind the curtain already, but that's not the same).


Lastly, if you look between a few houses, over a fence, at just the right elevation, you may be able to spot the simple clay plaque dedicated to Ernesto Balducci, priest, peace activist, and general pain in the ass who defended Italy's first conscientious objector and for that was exiled from Florence, not in the Renaissance but in the 1960s! He championed a modern church and campaigned against the Gulf War and the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus's stumbling upon America. After he was exiled, he lived in Rome but was forced out of there too. He settled finally here on the Via Rocettini, technically just outside of the city limits of Florence, so safe.

History, the point is, is a little like salt: it brings out the dull flavours and makes you notice.