One of the brightest, loudest, flashing neon-style sign that humanity can indeed get along is the upcoming Middle East Now festival in Florence, Italy. Yes, Florence, where that original coming out of the Middle Ages happened hundreds of years ago, is the city I believe could also be at the epicenter of a new cross-cultural Renaissance.
The other day I was stopped on the Ponte Grazie by an Italian couple looking for directions to Piazza Michelangelo. It's always a moment of smug pride when I am mistaken for Italian, and it's always short lived! As soon as I started to speak, make eye contact and gesture, they knew. I am not one of them.
Centuries after her death on July 15, 1542, Mona (Madame) Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo is still making headlines. Over the last two years journalists from around the world have descended upon Florence to report on dramatic excavations of skeletons that may--or may not--belong to Leonardo da Vinci's model and her family.