A group was gathering at noon for a tour of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. The guide was a no-nonsense Italian woman. We were given precise instructions not to make any noise and to listen to her. And then we were off. Soon our group was receiving an in-depth analysis of one of the more famous sculptures prominently featured there. Still, I didn’t feel inclined to take lots of pictures when I could buy a glossy postcard instead.
Looking around, I noticed buildings where actual people lived. Then I saw the shutters on the windows. In my experience, window shutters are typically for ornamentation. But here in Florence, some of the shutters were open, which was not unusual. What struck me was that other shutters were closed! And they appeared to have hinges so that only the lower part of the shutters could be raised, while the top part stayed shut. I began to speculate what this could mean. Was the building air-conditioned? Probably not. So did placing the shutters in this position keep the room cooler? Intrigued by these unanswered questions, I considered asking the guide, but I thought she would find this impertinent and off the topic. In spite of this, I found myself turning toward these buildings and taking pictures of the shutters. A person standing next to me asked me what I was doing. I pointed to the shutters. Then other people in the group started looking at them. Soon the guide realized that people weren’t paying attention to her. And what could be more interesting than her comments?
When the tour was over, I walked to the busy Ponte Vecchio where I found a spot to look out over the river. And I might have done some shopping there, too. But those shutters were still on my mind.
During this trip to Italy I visited other cities and saw beautiful sights. But now I have to add to my list of must-see attractions in Italy: The Colosseum in Rome, the canals of Venice, and the shutters of Florence. When you have the chance to visit Florence, be sure to study them yourself.