Monday, April 25, 2016

Festa della Liberazione Italia

Dear Art Lover,

     My friend Ale popped onto Facebook chat this morning to say hello.  It went like this:
Alessandro:  Buon giorno!
Kelly Borsheim:    ciao! Come stai e buona .. FESTA???
Alessandro:  bene,oggi è il giorno degli americani!
Kelly Borsheim:  cosa? pensavo partigiani.
Alessandro :  senza i soldati americani sarebbe stato impossibile! anche se i partigiani si prendono quasi tutti i meriti......

Which all means:
Alessandro: Good morning!
Kelly Borsheim: hello! How are you and happy .. HOLIDAY ???
Alessandro: Well, today is the day of the Americans!
Kelly Borsheim: What? I thought [Italian] partisans.
Alessandro: Without the American soldiers, it would have been impossible!  Although the partisans take almost all the credit ......

protecting art and sculpture with sandbags on Church Orsan Michele Florence Italy
Orsan Michele, Florence, Italy circa 1944
     My 93-year-old friend Renato in Casignano (where I go to help with the olive harvest each Novembre) told me the first time he met me that he was just a boy when the American soldiers came to live in his home.  They made quite an impression on him… polite and friendly people, he said.  He also had the opinion that the Americans saved the Italians and I seemed to earn immediate bonus points with him, even though I could not have possibly had any connection to events of World War II.  Casignano is in the hills outside of Florence.

     Also on Facebook I got lost in looking at tons of images of Hitler and Mussolini’s visit to the Renaissance City, as well and the hideous scenes of the city after the bombing.  The images come from an album on the FB Page: titled Firenzepoco conosciuta  [The lesser known Florence]. 

     This first is an image of Orsan Michele, not far at all from where I used to street paint in Florence.  The Florentines moved most paintings and other portable artworks and valuables outside of the city and often into the hill country surrounding the city.  But for fresco and larger works, they built walls of sandbags and sometimes brick (as for the original ‘David’ by Michelangelo in the Accademia).  Granted if the art took a direct hit, it would be gone, but they were mostly trying to protect from shrapnel.

     This second is a gorgeous photo with the light and composition, but what a horror!  Hitler ordered some Florentine Jews rounded up, about 300, and sent to Auschwitz.  Only 107 of these people were deemed “good enough” for the camps.  The rest were killed right away.  In the end, only 8 women and 7 men survived the camps.

Florentine Jews rounded up and sent to Auschwitz
Florentine Jews rounded up and sent to Auschwitz

n bombs placed along the Lungarno Archibusieri-never detonated
Bombs along the Lungarno Archibusieri
     This third is an image of the bombs set up under the Lungarno Archibusieri, beneath the famous Vasari Corridor and beside the Ponte Vecchio.  The caption says this was August 1944, but the bombs were never detonated.  Still, what a sight.. and sadly, there are so many much more terrible!


     This last I share with you today from this historical album first struck me for its beauty.  The light on the ruin of Borgo San Jacopo is striking in its shape and contrast with the surrounding city.  But, oh, such loss!  Borgo San Jacopo has been rebuilt and you might never notice how ravished it once was.

Borgo San Jacopo Bombed During WWII - Florence, Italy
Borgo San Jacopo Bombed During WWII - Florence, Italy

Here is a good explanation and other context for 25 April 1945 and what it means to many Italians.
Google Translate does a good enough job on this article for you to understand it.

     Also, I shared an album of war-torn Florence on my Facebook page.  The album comes from a page titled “Firenze poco conosciuta”  [The lesser known Florence].  Find them here:

So, happy Liberation Day, Italia!


Kelly Borsheim, artist

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