Critical Mass Firenze

"Critical Mass does not want to be an obstacle to traffic, but be the traffic"
“Critical Mass does not want to be an obstacle to traffic, but be the traffic” / Photo by  Charles DeFilippo

I rode from my apartment to Piazza Santissima, the meeting point, on the pale blue frame. The saddle was a dark Italian leather, full of discomfort with each pedal stroke and the hand-grips had become tacky, making it impossible to hold onto for more than a few minutes. I regretted not buying one of my own, but my roommates bike had reconnected me with the road.

I continued to pick up speed and remembered the long rides I went on at home, through the hills and lakes, in large groups and all alone, in the freezing cold and the time I could not make it back because of Sun Poisoning.

I darted through an intersection cluttered by people and passing cars with little running through my mind, I was just living and reacting to the chaos. I slammed on the brakes flying face first through the rear window of a small SUV, almost. My heart began to race, but I had no intention of colliding with any vehicle or the cold glass. An uneasy grin came across my face and I was free.

I approached the Piazza with some speed and arrived exactly on time, 18:30. Few people were gathered on the steps passing beers, cigarettes and cannabis that was tucked discreetly between strands of rolling tobacco. I cycled around the square for a few laps in no particular direction. The chains rattled against the frame below my seat, making an ambient ‘ping’  that echoed through the city. I could feel the stones shifting beneath my wheel. I was alive like the entire city, in motion, changing with each rotation.

I hadn’t been sitting on the stairs long before people, real people, started to roll in. Some it pairs, alone or in groups all with their own story. A few Italians arrived with alochol  tucked away in a backpack. They split it three ways directly out of the bottle and nobody seemed to care that they were underage. A man with tie-dye pants and flip-flops began playing music from a large speaker strapped across the back of his bicycle. Another one juggling, with short hair and one dreadlock, that stretched to his lower back. Others rolled in on tandem bikes; one carrying his black lab.

We left over an hour later as people slowly began riding around and getting one more beer for the road. We set off to take over the city. Over fifty of us in total. Riding slowly or too fast, taking up all four lanes of the road. It was quite simple really, taking back what was  ours.

Then we were speeding down the outskirts of the city, through the historic gate, and down a long tunnel where the roar of living people became overpowering to the ear.I lifted both hands in the air, away from the tacky grips, and stretched my legs as far as they would go. The wind was brisk on my face. We were all screaming!

Traffic was not an issue, because we were the traffic. Riding through a roundabout one-too-many times and the sound of car horns and yelling motorist blended with the blasting music. Queen’s “Bicycle Race” came on and we lured passing cyclist to join the heard. Scooters crept in and tried to speed by, but the mass made it impossible to for them to pass. They were simply caught in-between.

Two hours later and the ride had seized at the original meeting point, but people were in no rush to leave. I couldn’t break free from the two wheels and began racing through the dark city, caught on the margins of the curb as a bus tried to pass and hoping I would not loose my balance.

“Critical Mass is not a confidence organised bike ride. It has no leader, no organisation, it is simply made by those who take part in the ride. Critical Mass does not want to be an obstacle to traffic, but be the traffic. Come along and reclaim the space of bicycles in Florence.” – April 24 2014


Watch: Startup Bets on Millennials and House Parties to Save Classical Music

Wow, amazing video/article on classical music in the modern world. Just need to listen.


If you walk into a chamber concert organized by Groupmuse, you soon realize this is not your traditional classical performance. T here’s clapping in-between movements of Mozart’s duo in G major, as well as whistling, drinking and sitting on the floor so close to the musicians that one risks getting jabbed with every note. But most importantly, there is a rare breed in the audience: engaged, iPhone-less millennials.

Groupmuse is a Boston-based startup that strives to attract new audiences for live classical music by re-imagining the traditional concert experience. Sam Bodkin, 24, started the venture in January of last year. Bodkin blames the stifling, severe traditional orchestral experience for turning millennials away from classical music concerts. He plans to make his business profitable by pairing musicians and hosts to create what he calls “chamber music house parties.”

“In what other form of music is the sincere instinct to express…

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Florence, YES Today: Inside Vintage Fashion

{ I am VERY HAPPY to announce that this is my second piece selected to be published in BLENDING magazine. A big thank you to Indigo, Nicoletta, A.N.G.E.L.O.’S, FUA’s Blending editors, and to YOU!!! I am grateful to share my work with you all. Comment, share & Enjoy! }

Era correct hats hang from the ceiling of A.N.G.E.L.O.'s storefront serving as a bold fashion statement and channeller.
Era correct hats hang from the ceiling of A.N.G.E.L.O.’s storefront serving as a bold fashion statement and channeller.

 I felt strange following somebody I didn’t know, fixated on his bright button-down shirt, patterned scarf and whirlwind of accessories. It didn’t make any sense. He wore Gucci sunglasses, but there was hardly any glare. His Cavalli slim-fit blazer was not heavy enough for the cool weather. I couldn’t help but wonder why he wore capri pants and Ferragamo dress shoes.

I felt guilty following this guy, but I couldn’t help myself. Fashion here was unlike anything I had ever seen and my wardrobe was far from fitting in. Maybe I could ask him where he had developed such unique style or if he had any trouble this morning getting dressed?

I remembered how nervous I was before coming to Florence. I spent a long time thinking about what should I pack in my suitcase. Something that made me go un-noticed. Something to make me look like I belonged. I felt confident that most of my dark clothing would blend and the lack of logos would go unnoticed.

We turned on Via Cimatori, a tiny side street and approached a vintage clothing shop.  A.N.G.E.L.O. , 25/r, was written in bold letters across the glass door.  Old hats dangled like a chandelier in the centre of the store. I opened the door slowly and wandered in. I was greeted by The Champ’s “Tequila,” playing from a small stereo, and a young saleswoman. Indigo, it was a beautiful name, both vintage and unique like each item in the shop.

I climbed up to the mens section first. It was old and smelt damp. I reached for a pair of shoes on the top shelf and was surprised by the worn soles and tattered leather toes. I wondered  why 20 year old shoes were still popular or why people would want to buy the warn leather briefcases.

“Twenty years ago, these clothes were considered old,”  she told me.  Now, young Italians flood the tiny shop for “quality, hand made and one-of-a-kind items”. Bright tank tops from the early 80’s, military boots, jean jackets and hats from the 40’s. Each item its own. The selection for women is even larger.

Street view of the small and unique vintage clothing store on Via Cimatori, Florence.
Street view of the small and unique vintage clothing store on Via Cimatori, Florence.

It was a paradox I could not understand. Indigo explained that Angelo has opened shops all over Italy, the largest in Lugo. I now know why it’s called ‘A.N.G.E.L.O.’s Vintage Palace’. Four floors of vintage clothing that had resurfaced in the fashion world. Three rooms detected to men, women and kids, recycled items and the historical archive on the top floor. Even cult items from the 40’s and 50’s, including rare jeans and dresses from Chanel, Emilio and Pucci.

They were proud to represent their culture and wear the designer brands that people come from all over the world to see.  I had been in the city for almost two months and Florence was like home. I wanted to buy the shoes because I wouldn’t have to worry about breaking them in. Then feeling proud on the walk home through Piazza Duomo, showing all the tourist where I was from and fitting in with the locals.