Monday, November 24, 2014

strolling in the suburbs

Suburbia swells. Once upon a time, Etobicoke was not part of Toronto, and Hackney wasn't in London. It's a familiar process, and it happens in the renaissance capitals of Italy as well. There, suburbs go by the charming name of fraction [frazione]. The term implies that they are part of a whole, but the relationship is often distinctly peripheral. It's easy to visit Florence, for example, without noticing its suburbs.

Some of them are, like Etobicoke or Hackney, so assimilated to the city that their independent existence resides solely in maps and signposts. Among them, Ponte a Mensola:



Some years ago I lived in the east of Florence. I could walk in 20 minutes to the city limits, and frequently did. One of those limits (the north-east) was marked by the former village of Ponte a Mensola, where a small cluster of houses adjoined a tiny stream called the Mensola.

There was nothing to distinguish the place, except that it was most of the way to Settignano, an altogether more famous location. But the cafe by the Mensola was welcoming and the streetscape moderately picturesque. The result was several pictures. You can see others here and here.

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