A local woman once remarked to us, ‘Believe it or not, it's not easy being from Florence. While sharing our city's beauty with millions of visitors from around the world we begin to feel that we, as Florentines, are invisible.' Perhaps now is the moment to face the truth in that statement. Many of us who live in Florence, natives or not, can likely sympathize with this sentiment on some level. At the same time, many visitors and foreign residents feel invisible to the Florentines. The point, however, is that Florence's sense of community and pride have taken a beating lately. Foreigners feel disconnected from locals, locals feel disconnected from themselves, and everyone feels disconnected from the city.
There is little doubt that we are in the midst of an important moment in Florence. The city is changing by the day-decreasing tourism, increasing rents, more rules, less money. Have we hit rock bottom? And are we at The Florentine the only ones who think, yes, we have...and that it's actually a good thing? After all, as the old saying goes, when you're at the bottom the only way to go is up. We're convinced that this year represents an incredible opportunity for our city to make a comeback, turn a new leaf. We believe it's time for a new Florentine Renaissance on all levels-cultural, political, technological, economic and social. It's time to take a deep breath, take stock and think honestly about which direction is right for our city.
We'll get the ball rolling with a few questions:
A NEW MAYOR AND CITY ADMINISTRATION
(It has already been a crazy ride and we're not even at the primaries yet!) Are the candidates focusing sufficiently on the issues or has the concentration been on the scandals within the current administration? Will there be real change or will the election be based on the same old ‘heritage' system? Are local politicians able to respond to the real needs of the city?
Is Florence still an attractive tourist destination? Is it too expensive? (With the pound and the euro nearly equal, why not go to London, where you can sleep in Notting Hill for less than you can in Piazza Santa Maria Novella?) Do we know where the tourists are going instead of Florence? What can we do to (re)attract tourism?
Is it possible to plan for and sustain culture in Florence after the massive cuts to cultural arts funding? Can the different cultural communities of Florence come together to offer a united, coordinated, useful, strong and modern front?
Is the cost of living in Florence the only thing that has reached an international standard? Are the services commensurate with the high cost of living or does the price reflect only the ‘honor' to be living in the center of Florence? Is the cost : quality-of-life ratio one that will continue to attract an international community?