Thursday, July 1, 2010
in the heart of florence there is a great bridge of stone that crosses the river arno. seven hundred years ago, at the height of the great italian renaissance, the bridge was home to the greatest culinary artists in the world, and their many and varied shops. here could be found the finest pastries, breads, fruits and vegetables, cured meats and cheeses, steaks and poultry in the world. also could be found the jewels of these great culinary minds, their restaurants which served the most delicious food of the age.

all was not well and good, however. though florence and all of tuscany was well fed by the market and the fine chefs, the bridge was the source of a great evil. you see, at the end of each night, when all the fruits and vegetables had wilted in the summer sun, or when the meats and cheeses had rotted and molded, or when stuffed patrons left scraps upon their plates, all was pitched over the bridge and into the mighty arno.

over time, these scraps from the bridge collected and rotted and created the most foul stench man has ever known, tarnishing the once-glorious bridge. soon the crowds dwindled from the market until none came. and soon the hungered throngs grew wary of the restaurants and diners, until all chairs were empty, and the great chefs of tuscany were forced to board up their windows and doors and leave the bridge. the market, having no one to provide produce, breads, meats and cheeses too was soon closed and boarded up.

the great tuscan minds gathered upon the bridge and gazed upon the ruins of a once-thriving community and wondered,

"what shall become of this place, that was once so glorious?"

all looked down in shame and their eyes landed on the arno, filled to the brim with rotting scrap. in disgust, most averted their eyes and their noses, but one man kept his gaze upon the filth. of a sudden, illumination came upon his visage, and with it a great smile.

"look men! the answer lies before us and you avert your eyes? the filth of the arno has felled this great market, but the war is not lost. heed me men, for i have a plan!"

with that, the man withdrew from the crowd, the others speculating in his absence. what was this man up to? what was he playing at?

the man stayed away for many weeks, locked in his home where he saw no one. however, every day correspondence came and went, came and went, came and went. the great minds of tuscany heard of his hermititude and gathered outside of his door, beckoning he come out and share his great illumination with them. they offered him power, women, great sums of money, and nothing enticed the man to leave his home and speak his mind. for two months hence they waited upon his doorstep, their numbers growing everyday and their pleas growing ever more desperate, but still he kept his silence, and still correspondence came and went, came and went.

then, one beautiful spring day his door opened and he walked out, clothing ragged, face unshaven and unwashed. he was deathly thin and used a cane to walk. but walk he did.

"sir, what have you been up to all this time? what say you of the market, and of the filthy arno?"

but he did not respond. he simply walked in silence, following by the maddened crowd. he walked down side streets into the very heart of florence, through the once-proud market and to the great stone bridge.

there, on the bridge, before all the great minds of tuscany, stood three mighty kings, each with 1000 carriages filled with the greatest treasures in all the world and the men to drive those carriages. upon a nod of his head, the three mighty kings signaled to their men to dump their vast riches into the arno! the gold and jewels plummeted over the bridge to the great dismay of the tuscans, but upon piling into the river dislodged the great damn of filth and rot that ha collected! the filth flowed freely down the arno and out of florence forever!

at once the great throngs of tuscans that had followed the man dove into the river and surfaced with handfuls and armfuls of jewels and golden chains and lockets and all manner of treasures, and dove and dove again until they could no longer move their arms and collapsed upon the shore in exhaustion.

when they awoke, those that dove into the water took their treasures into the old restaurants and began selling their riches to all of tuscany. to this day, if you should happen upon Ponte Vecchio you will find their descendants selling the great riches of the arno still, and on a bright summer day, if you look down to the river, you will find it still shines with the brilliance of the riches of those three great kings and the one man that was never seen or heard from again.

*this is a work of fiction based on fact, as told by a good friend of mine. thank you, jacqueline*

Daniel Stewart Mueller at 4:47 PM | 0 comments