Burnt to a Crisp – Graffiti Redux

The mayor says he’s going to fix it, but he doesn’t seem to have time while he’s throwing White Night festivities and Blue Night parties and stopping the bus system in its track by creating the fabulous pedestrian zone around the Duomo. He’s having equal trouble with potholes. But potholes and graffiti aren’t sexy and aren’t likely to disappear. So I will stay Burnt To A Crisp about the graffiti destroying Florence.

OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY & Duke of Urbino
OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY & Duke of Urbino

The mayor granted a permit to OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY –maybe to glam up graffiti. But it was for only for one day and now the artwork has been vandalized.

OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY on Banco Toscano
OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY on Banca Toscana

Florence has a long history of graffiti. But the graffiti of the 16th century  now peeks out from behind the graffiti of today.

16th century graffiti meets 2010 graffiti
16th century graffiti meets 2010 graffiti

Scrawls flank my front door.

Burnt to a Crisp about my doorway
Burnt to a Crisp about my doorway

The most famous ugly graffiti in Italy is in Verona – along the wall to the fake balcony of Shakespeare’s fantasy Juliet.

Mess in the name of Love
Mess in the name of Love

Most of the graffiti in Florence is attributed to teenaged dweebs. Gangs aren’t tagging boundaries inside the historic center. English proficiency isn’t common, which doesn’t necessarily let the thousands of American students off the hook. Italian is the language of choice for these vandals.

Madonna in tabernacle looks down on scrawled walls
Madonna in tabernacle looks down on scrawled walls

But not always … In 2008, a Japanese television crew filming on top of the Duomo caught some familiar scribbles and broadcast them. Unlike the justice system of Florence or, in fact, anywhere in Italy, the Japanese found in this a moment of national shame and came down hard on a high school teacher for expressing his love in ink on a wall.

A 19-year-old fashion student from Japan’s Gifu University was caught in another incident.  She offered 600 euros ($950 in 2008) to repair the damage.

“We accept the apologies (and) we accept the money exceptionally for the gesture’s great sense of civility,” said the Duomo’s chief curator Anna Mitrano, flanked by the university’s visiting rector, Yukitoshi Matsuda.

Except for Ms. Mitrano, Italians have expressed shock and amusement over Japan’s attitude. Perhaps a little more shame and pride and a little less official complacency and public cynicism would help bring Florence’s center back to its historic beauty.

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