Someone warned us…this city is no longer real. What could they mean? Walls are still standing that once were touched by the hands of Raphael, Dante Alighieri, Masaccio, the Medici, Petrarch, Pierro della Francesca…Giotto, and as we imagine this, our small cortege is swamped by perfumed gushes of tourists ignoring the beauty of the past, yet, beauty is here, fully present, almost assailing us, impossible to escape, and the digital eye of the entertainment industry ensures its cyber immortalisation thus rendering it obsolete and groundless. But what lies, beyond those alluring appearances, is a world of vagrancy and misery, a world trodden by rejected immigrants, misfits, homeless addicts, the destitute, and the imprint of their wreckage. We are taken on a journey along the Arno River, and our guide, a Florentine, points to the trace of a common urban illness. We lose all sense of time and place, although this monument of art history reminds us we must pay to admire her treasures and artists are no longer welcome, save for the preservation of an illusion, and the safeguard of a stagnant institution. Yet, we absorb the mythology of a dying goddess, and soon, images and sculptures emerge from the catastrophe of Beautiful Banality to reclaim and resurrect her inner sanctuaries.
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