Via Laura is located in the historic center but is a quiet street on the edge. My apartment is located at the end or beginning of the street depending on where you approach Via Laura from, I am a few steps from Borgo Pinti ( now one of my most favorite streets in Florence).
Via Laura is pronounced L-OW-U-RA, which is important otherwise the taxi drivers will insist that it doesn't exist. No matter how hard I try I never get it on the first shot and usually takes a few back and forth. It is a long, long street! Especially when approaching it from the Piazza Annunziata area.
It's a quiet street especially down on the end toward Borgo Pinti. There is a really cool archway where Via Pergola runs into it and a building of the University of Firenze is also on this street.
There is a super famous bookstore where people line up for hours, taking a number and waiting outside. They store their bikes at the rack surrounded by flyers and posters.
All these things I love about my street but it's not the thing I love most. Until Sunday I wasn't really sure what the small relief/wall statue was that I look at everyday. So I asked my go to guy on all things Florence my friend Eli. As we were walking toward my building I asked, " Hey Eli, what is that ?" and I pointed down the street to where Borgo Pinti intersects Via Laura. He asked if I was talking about the tabernacolo. Is that what it's called? Yes, that is what I was asking about because everyday when I walk out the door and look left I see it, staring back at me. It sits just beside the street sign that says Borgo Pinti.
Eli explained it is one of many tabernacles found throughout Florence usually located at where 2 streets intersect. He said it was there to give protection of the residents who live on that street. WOW, I have a guardian angel watching over me, who needs mace.
Now I'm no stranger to superstition and I love me some icons and such. I have evil eyes and Buddhas.
I have lucky owls, frogs and fish
And then........ I have my saints, I have St Anthony given to me by my mother's friend Anna ( from Frosinone near Rome) This one I was told to put upside down in my closet to deliver me a " good guy" Sorry to report St. Anthony has been slacking on the job!
I also have St. Lucas Patron St. of Artists
And very important for any Jewish girl, the Madonna and Child from Romania
NOW, I learn I have another at the end of my street. It is the Madonna and Child and she watches over the residents of Via Laura, which means me. Well I did some google digging after confirming what Eli said was true with the guy that works at the Tabacchi and this is what I found.
There are said to be over 1200 tabernacles in Florence!! They are found through Italy but especially so in Florence. In a nutshell ,most of these were made and installed to first fight off the heretics of the catholic church and then the plague of the 14th century. Desperate times call for desperate measures, ( which I think is what Anna told me when she handed over St. Anthony)
Great article found here if you want to read up and lists a bunch of tabernacles around town
For me , I'm content with my tabernacle and I give her a nod everyday :)