After nearly three months of Coronavirus shutdown, the grand synagogue in Florence opened for a day on Sunday, with an art installation marking Shavuot that directly channeled the work of the great Florentine Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli.
It’s a tradition to decorate synagogues with flowers — particularly roses — to honor Shavuot, which was celebrated Friday and Saturday of last week. In Florence, the synagogue was festooned with more than 200 roses, arranged in the sanctuary as an art installation by the Israeli-born artist David Palterer, who lives and works in Florence.
The installation created a sort of tent or “shower of roses,” with the blooms suspended within the nine arches that delimit the synagogue’s lofty sanctuary.
“Since we are in Florence, one can’t escape an absolutely intentional association with two works by Sandro Botticelli that are almost the symbols of the Uffizi Gallery — the Birth of Venus and La Primavera (Spring), and at the success of their iconography until the present day,” a statement from Florence Jewish Museum Director Dora Liscia Bemporad said.
Aided by community members, Palterer hung roses, which were donated by the Flora Toscana agricultural company, on cords of various lengths, so that they would dangle above the heads of visitors.
Here’s a video of how the roses were placed:
Bemporad’s statement said the installation “united the customs of Italian Jewish tradition with the culture and the excellence of the city with which the Jewish community has always held a link of cultural and historical reciprocity.”
The synagogue is a monumental, Moorish style building, designed by Mariano Falcini, Marco Treves and Vincenco Micheli and inaugurated in 1882.
It has a lavishly decorated interior, and its dome is the second largest in Florence, after that of the Duomo (Cathedral).
Visits on Sunday to the installation were by reservation only — face masks and social distancing were mandatory.
Here’s a video showing some of the scene.