We all know and probably own the iconic shirt from the Hard Rock Café: a simple white tee with the Hard Rock’s logo and a major city’s name written underneath. It has become, along with the ‘I heart NY’ shirt, probably one of the most clichéd tourist-kitsch items currently in existence. But did you ever imagine that you’d see a Hard Rock Cafè Firenze shirt? I sure didn’t.
Hard Rock Café is planned to open right here in Florence. On September 27, 2010, Mayor Renzi announced that under the ancient arches of Piazza Repubblica, in the former space of the Cinema Gambrinus, which has been closed for the past 20 years, a Hard Rock Cafè will join the famous and historic cafés of Florence: Paszkowski, Gilli, Donnini and Giubbe Rosse. Renzi commented: ‘years after its closure, the Gambrinus will have a grand re-opening through a piece of our contemporary international world.’ The exact date of the opening, although not yet set, is expected to be sometime in spring 2011.
To my mind, there is no more ironic place to position the café. And there have been some public complaints (and private grumbling) about transforming the Gambrinus, a Florentine landmark, into what to some is simply a tacky tourist attraction. Renzi assured the comune’s ‘full collaboration’ in allowing a private structure not only to benefit, but also to become a source of innovation for Florence.
What will this mean for the city? To be completely honest, I was quite shocked when I found out that the Hard Rock was going to open here (especially since I found out via Facebook!). Moreover, I didn’t quite understand why Florence was chosen. Why not Milan? When I thought about the late Renaissance buildings, Michelangelo’s marble, and the Habsburg-Lorraine Pitti Palace coupled with a Rolling Stones poster and Purple Rain on the speakers, I couldn’t quite picture it.
Neither could any of my friends. ‘Rock has nothing to do with Florence,’ remarked one. ‘True,’ I thought. But we also have to consider that Florence is growing, and the Hard Rock café may take it one step closer toward a more international atmosphere. ‘It’s not that kind of city,’ said another friend.
But maybe it’s becoming that kind of city.