Sunday, October 25, 2009

Piazza Duomo Diventa Pedonale !

Today was an historic and exciting day for residents of Florence. Today the city celebrated the closing down of the Piazza del Duomo to motorized traffic. Begining tomorrow morning, cars, busses and taxis will no longer be permitted on the streets within and surrounding Piazza Duomo.

Everyone in Florence is thrilled beyond belief. Florentines are very proud of their city, their heritiage and their rich culture. The closing down of the Piazzza Duomo to motorized traffic was proposed by Matteo Renzi , the sindaco (mayor) of Florence and it was approved by Rome last month. This is part of a 5 year plan to preserve Florence's precious monuments, to revitalize and clean up the city and to make it more inviting to tourists.

Today all of Florence came out to celebrate. It was an emotional day. I felt such a common bond with the people, I felt such a common pride of Florence. This IS my city. The day opened with an agenda of activities, begining with the mayor driving down Via Martinelli for the last time, followed by a grand, elaborate parade starting at the Duomo, which made its way to the Palazzo Vecchio. There were national and local T.V. crews covering the news. For the entire day, the Palazzo Vecchio invited its residents to enjoy special admission to the palace. It was indeed exciting to be peritted this privilege as a resident. Today I really felt like an integral part of my community. I waited on a line in the palace, with other Florentine residents, for the officials to verify my residency before granting me admission to the palace. When my turn came up, who was sitting at the desk, but Gianni, the man who assisted me in the town hall to get my residency. He looked up at me from his chair and said "Buongiorno, Barbara! Come va la nuova cittadina?" (Hi Barbara, how's the new citizen?) Wow, talk about making my day. Here I am, in one of the most historically famous palaces in the world, and one of the officials knows me! Florence is starting to feel like a small town. I am feeling more and more comfortable every day. I spent the next 2 hours touring the palace, overwhelmed by its history and art. While I was in the Salone dei Cinquecento, I ran into Samanta, my next door neighbor and her baby Giorgio and her mother.

The day was concluded in the evening with a celebratory concert performed inside the Duomo. The concert was scheduled to start at 9pm, so I arrived at 7PM to wait on line, but the line was already about one mile long. The orchestra of the Maggio Fiorentino, conducted by Maestro Seiji Ozawa, was a selection from Bach and Mozart, and the choir which was enormous, was magnificent. One can't help being inspired inside a church so titanically immense and so rich in history and art. I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas mass here.

I am always thanking God for bringing me to Italy and allowing me to feel this strong sense of home and belonging.