In Florence’s central square, fronted on one side by the majestic Duomo and extending in a ring around the Baptistery, I often find myself feeling enchanted. It’s as though I’m in a film, staring up at the magnificent architecture and twirling around and smiling at strangers. It took me a couple of days of living here to understand that the magical atmosphere of so many places in Florence was due to the street artists: performers, painters, and invisible decorators.
“Street art” in Florence means a number of different things. There are artists who create and sell their work in the city’s plazas, others who attach unique stickers to street signs during the night, and musical groups spread out among the city center. Some artists draw on the cobblestones of the streets, and some performers are not musicians but actors, playing statues who come to life when a child donates a Euro to their collection.
The various art not only livens the city’s looks, but serves as conversation points for residents and tourists. One of the most famous Florentine street artists is Clet Abraham, who began altering street signs in Florence and now travels Europe with his art. Another popular artist is “Blub,” who depicts famous artworks underwater and posts them around the city. Both can be treated as the objects of a scavenger hunt as they are noticeable patches of color along any given wall.
As much as I love the art on the walls of Florence that turns the city into one massive gallery, I love the live performers more. In the Uffizi Plaza are the performers dressed as statues of famous historical figures who stay completely still until they are given a little money and then act something out for the rapt audience.
Finally, the musicians who are constantly filling the city center with opera songs, string quartet pieces, or lazy rolling guitar tunes. I have favorites depending on the time of day and where I am, but I have yet to hear a musician or group that is not good.
I am lucky to live in this city of such vibrant art and culture for a semester. If you are an art-enthusiast looking for a place to study abroad, consider the living museum of Florence.
The world awaits…discover it.