Florence still feels handworked, like burnished gold, and an astonishment of deeply human masterpieces. The jewel box is also beset, overrun by tourists, but who can blame them – we dropped in, mother-daughter duo, for a quick day and a half. We were under the umbrella (it rained) of centuries of wealth, but the stand-out banking family and political dynasty, the Medicis, have always intrigued. As a young art history student, I asked if Cosimo, Piero and Lorenzo’s ruthless capitalism was worth the price for the brilliant Renaissance art they fostered – Fra Lippi, Botticelli, Massacio. I said yes. Vita brevis, ars longa.
History has always had rapacious capitalist mafia powerbroker in office – we have ours now. The difference is ours doesn’t have a shred of civic minded humanism. Our billionaire ego-in-chief can’t compartmentalize and rise above, even for a short time. What if he could be a patron of real culture, not cheesy ersatz stuff. Narcissism has always been a part of patronage; ego and power are part of the deal; real leaders see beyond to the bigger picture.