this post was supposed to be meaningless, a small anecdote with a couple of photos about the smallest violin shop i had ever seen on via dei leoni (look at the photos, you’ll see why). but it’s actually an interesting window into the complicated history of florence, from artisanship, to high art, to bustling international community. indeed, expats are constantly being moaned about. you can hear english everywhere, can’t swing a cat without bumping into an american. a taxi driver once explained to me: ‘florence used to be home to artisans, now, there are expats everywhere, and there are no more artisans.’ (i paraphrase)
but the mystery of ‘who owns this tiny violin shop’ shows how expat community is also deeply woven into the fabric of florentine society, and it is a central part of the city’s contemporary pulse.
i began to trace down its owner only to discover, to my surprise, it was apparently an american violin maker. let me tell you, this is a rarity. in ‘the florentine‘, they describe the career of jamie marie lazzara, an american woman who came to study art restoration in florence and who ended up being the first american to graduate from the international violin maker professional institution (or something like that…). and she continues to work and have a very prestigious clientele from via dei leoni.
it is perhaps not so surprising, therefore, that this is one of the rare artisan shops not on oltrarno, but on the ‘touristy’ side. it shows how americans have invested in resurrecting local traditions. it says something about the importance of tourism and the international community in florence. although expats will continue to be criticised for not being ‘real florentines’ (not least by expats themselves), this stream of international visitors which washes over the city year after year is both changing and preserving florence’s charm, character and soul. after all, being a merchant city, florence was always thriving on travelers…
via dei leoni
(almost 100% sure it’s there anyways…)