Florence’s Wonderland

By Sariah Bunker, NYU Florence student 

At the edge of Florence there is a collection of yellow-plastered-houses with green window shutters. And just like in most Florentine neighborhoods, the community’s green space is hidden behind this grandmotherly facade. But there is a crack—in the form of a small gap guarded by a two-dimensional pegasus—which alludes to a unique and wondrous space behind an iron gate. 

This curious space is Parco d’Arte Contemporanea Enzo Pazzagli, which reopened on March 12. The park is small, only 6 acres, and  is filled with cypress trees and sculpture. It is named after Enzo Pazzagli, a tuscan artist who works mainly with sheet metals.

The space is somewhere between a hallucinatory dream and the drawings of a particularly imaginative child; some works are elegant and fantastical–a sprinting horse or a pair of dancers–while others are slightly unsettling—humanoid faces or twisted bodies. Towering and crimped cypress trees partially hide these sculptures, some of which are placed in clusters. As you meander in between this greenery and steel you are greeted by the works, each becoming an imaginary friend of sorts as you stand before it. These figures occasionally have gaps in their bodies which are filled with colored plastic. This plastic creates a stained-glass effect, and the sun seems to flirt with the sculptures as it travels across the sky; one moment light may be withheld from the sculpture by a tree, and the next a seemingly dull surface is brightened, the colored panels illuminated, and the subtle etchings on the statues—quite literally—brought to light.

It could also be said that one’s subconscious is awakened by wandering through the park. Although one may have never been there before, the playground of child-like, fantastical, and surreal images can evoke a sense of familiarity. Perhaps we have all already experienced Parco d’Arte Contemporanea Enzo Pazzagli, even if we have never been there before.