Florence Defaced by Graffiti, Declared Ugly and Depressing

Florence Narrative
by Tom Gates Jun 22, 2009

photos by author

Matador’s Tom Gates goes off on the lameness of graffiti in Florence.

In what seems like less than a decade, Firenze’s famous beauty and charm has gone directly into the crapper.

The city has never been particularly effective at fighting miscreant ink but now it’s turned into a real doghouse. The markings are everywhere, even eye level on the walls around the Duomo. Alleyways and small streets are tagged dozens of times. Many large, wooden doors are blasted with paint. Signs are hardest hit, rendering bus schedules useless at many stops.

It seems like a great time to be a police officer in Florence. There are endless amounts of tourist photos to be taken, plenty of texts to be written and bottomless espressos to be sipped from tiny paper cups.

Cops in the city center socialize in circles, looking as if they might break out a hackysack at any moment. Bus and train station rent-a-cops seem to come standard with headphones and MP3 players. They all love to whistle.

Perhaps the police’s apathy makes Taggers work harder for attention. The words don’t support this theory though. They are banal tags, mostly names and initials.

There is no hint of artistic aspiration, like with the murals of Santiago or the clever Banksy’s that turn up in London. One can only picture 15 year old nimrods doing what 15 year old nimrods do; defacing and running.

It’s a frustrating thing, the lack of purpose involved in all of this. It makes the streets look like the set of a bad 1980’s rap video. There’s no “fuck the police” or political statement, no reason given for the defamation of centuries-old buildings. It’s just a bunch of crap spray painted on a wall.

One person seems obsessed with tagging the word “yogurt”, as many as ten times in a five block radius of The Uffizi. Another person has taken to simply dumping buckets of paints on ATM’s.

There is probably much that I don’t know about the war on graffiti here. Police squads that roam the street at night. Or perhaps a commission has been called.

Maybe the mayor isn’t taking 3 hour lunches and instead sits in his office, pining over how his city is being devalued. Maybe the tourism commission, whose Information Points are even tagged up, are not operating with blinders on.

Maybe there’s a master plan in the works to make Florence beautiful again, to make it look less like the inside of a toilet stall.

Or maybe nobody gives a shit.

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