Massimo Vitali: Florens 2010

The Master Photographer Captures the Duomo's Green Makeover

Famous for his panoramic, startlingly precise images of crowds––at discos, sunbathing on Coney Island or skiing in the Alps––Massimo Vitali is one of Italy’s most prolific and revered photographers. Vitali spent this past weekend 30 feet up on a scissor-lift truck in Florence’s majestic Piazza del Duomo, snapping the historic city square in the midst of a creative and cultural extravaganza: Florens 2010 International Week On Cultural Heritage and Landscape. “Florence is this mixture of fantastic, very geometric Renaissance buildings, in concert with today's sellers and Japanese tourists and policemen... that's something I really like,” he says. Swapping his usual wooden Deardorff for an ALPA Phase One digital camera due to cloudy skies, on Saturday at 8am Vitali captured a dramatic transformation of the piazza—its ancient paving stones were converted into a lush lawn of fresh grass complete with thousands of flowers. The installation evokes a miracle performed by Saint Zenobius of Florence, who was said to have made a dead elm tree burst into life here in 417 AD. Playing with a similar theme, a life-size reproduction of Michaelangelo’s “David” (seen here on the steps of the Duomo) appeared in different locations, from the courtyard of the Santa Maria del Fiore to the Palazzo Vecchio, in commemoration of the outcry the statue caused at its unveiling in 1504, and the subsequent panic about where to place it. Vitali sensed the excitement generated among the crowds by these dramatic re-enactments: “When they put a lawn in front of the Duomo, there’s a real mark on the city.”


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