Italy's Unexpected Art Gallery

Another postcard from a friend in Florence, this time about graffiti!  I wish someone would paint a graffiti version of me . . . Are you artistic?  Drop me a line and send me my graffiti self!  

 

One of the first things I noticed upon my arrival to Florence, Italy was the enormous amount of graffiti throughout the city. It covers everything: apartment buildings, banks, trains, and mail boxes. It's like an epidemic. Seeing all of this surprised me, for the Florence I had pictured was that of postcards, full of Renaissance cathedrals, the beautiful Arno River, and well-kept gardens with artfully trimmed hedges and elaborate fountains. Florence is, after all, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and it is renowned for having one of world's best collections of fine art. My expectations of these specific views were definitely met. All these famous historic images were just as they are in pictures, colossal and breathtaking. But what I had imagined in the rest of the city didn't match what I actually encountered. Instead of pristine perfection, I found spray paint.

It occurred to me a few days after first seeing all these works in the streets that the word "graffiti" really sounds Italian, especially if you heavily emphasize that second syllable and roll the r. "Graf-FI-ti." After this epiphany, a little research taught me that the origin of the word actually does stem from the `Italian "graffiato" which means "scratched." The term "graffiti" itself was apparently first used in 1851 to describe etchings found in the ruins of Pompeii.

After one week in Florence I took a day trip out to Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower. But right outside the train station I was faced with a different monument. The entire side of an enormous building was brightly painted with colorful silhouettes. As I approached, I learned that it was no ordinary mural, but “Tuttomondo,” the final work of the famous artist Keith Haring. Now perhaps this painting is not technically graffiti. But this mural is unique in that it was not actually commissioned by any local government or museum. The story told is that upon a visit to Pisa, Haring loved the town and wanted to paint a mural as a gift to the locals, to inspire and send a positive message. He drew it by hand, and the citizens of Pisa helped him finish it. Hearing this story, seeing the painting in person, and remembering the Italian origin of "graffiti" really affirmed to me that street art has a place, especially in the country of Italy.

So this is how I decided Florence’s rampant graffiti didn’t bother me, and though someone might be offended by what appears to be uncontrolled vandalism, graffiti seems to fit right in in the city of art, and gives it a richness and reality that otherwise might be robbed by the tourism industry.

Graffiti is communal. You don't have to stand in a four-hour line to see it, like many famous galleries. And while these famous museums are usually worth the wait, it's nice that graffiti can turn an ordinary walk to the supermarket into an exhibition of color and creativity. One elementary school I've seen here has an entire wall brightly spray painted with silly comics. One public post box inspires thoughts with simply sprayed out black letters: "Do you even know what you want?" Observing all these diverse depictions, I don't see graffiti artists simply as people with no respect for public property. And it's important to note that I haven't seen spray paint on any building with historic significance or any statue. There seems to be an inherent reverence for the masters of the past.  I do see, though, a country still as in love with art as it was during the Renaissance. Although they now have no Medici-family patrons to inspire portraits or religious memorials, the citizens of Florence have found a new, mesmerizing way to express their love of visual magnificence and to inspire.

 

5 New Year's Resolutions to Make Every Year

With every new year comes a clean slate and the opportunity to make your next 365 days as meaningful as possible. What are some of your resolutions? We came up with some ideas for resolutions for this year and every year after.

From our OGTV family to yours, Happy New Year!

Keep reading... Show less

Blind Waiter Serves Up Diner Classics and Life Lessons

** As we wind down to the final days of this difficult year, OGTV is tipping our hat to all of the essential workers on the front lines with this uplifting story about a New Jersey man who has found a way to do this difficult job for years, even without his eyesight! **

The flickering neon sign reflects eerily off the aging, chrome exterior; a long smooth marble counter with spinning stools draws your gaze left and right as you enter; the checkered linoleum floor seeps under the rows of back-to-back leather booths enveloped by the rain streaked wrap-around windows. You may think you've entered a typical American roadside eatery, but your experience here will be anything but ordinary.

You have just stepped into the Bendix Diner, a staple in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey since the 1940's. It's no surprise that The Bendix can serve up a sizzling Burger with deep fried onion rings and a frothy chocolate shake. What is unique about this meal is the waiter who delivers it to your table – his name is John Diakakis, and he is blind.

Keep reading... Show less

How to Reduce Feelings of Isolation and Loneliness - Ask The Doctor (E7)

During these incredibly stressful days, OnlyGood TV is excited to launch a new series - Ask The Doctor - that explores the questions and provides guidance for finding the road to achieving emotional, psychological, and spiritual wellness.

Hosted by Dr. Stacy Berman, each episode will help you navigate through these rough times and find your way to a happier and healthier life. Feeling lonely and isolated during quarantine? In this episode, Stacy reminds us that we are all wired to be part of a social community and offers a simple, self-soothing exercise to fill that connection gap that we are all experiencing.

Keep reading... Show less

Are You A Christmas Trivia Expert? - Not Your Average Joe

Everyone could use a few more smiles in their daily lives…and watching a funny video will often do the trick! OnlyGood TV videos help make your life fun, more manageable, happy and stress free!

Joe Leonardo is an improv actor from New York City. For our new "man on the street" series, Not Your Average Joe, he traveled through Times Square asking New Yorkers trivia questions about Christmas! Check out this hysterical video and see which city pedestrians know their facts and which don't... Keep track of your own answers too! Happy Holidays!

Keep reading... Show less

Chefs Honor Sailors and Their Families With a Holiday Feast to Remember (Random Acts of Cooking E1)

What would be a unique way to honor the service of 400 hungry sailors and their families for the holidays? You contact Chef Plum, have him round up his crew of top flight chefs and grill masters, bring in enough food to feed…well…the Navy, spice it up with a dash of top flight entertainment, and you have all of the ingredients for a memorable evening of food, love, and family!

Keep reading... Show less

Sullivan the Therapy Dog Helps Make A Christmas Movie - Sullivan's Travels

** OGTV is celebrating the first day of winter and the holiday season by inviting you to join a golden retriever named Sullivan on one of his many adventures. **

Do you ever wonder what a day in the life of a therapy dog is like? In the OGTV Original Series "Sullivan's Travels," a golden retriever therapy dog named Sullivan Travolta takes us along with her as she assists folks in all kinds of settings. Having been trained at Project Chance in Jacksonville, Florida, Sullivan provides support and happiness to kids and adults in schools, nursing homes, classes, and any other program where she's needed.

Keep reading... Show less

* OGTV Top Videos *

Watch and Subscribe
It's a Positivity Movement
OnlyGood TV on YouTube

mailbox

Get your Only Good TV Newsletter