This story has little to do with the man smiling and holding a white paper sign with a name on it.
It also has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Gould (the name on the paper), whoever he is, and wherever he might have been going.
It doesn’t even have anything directly to do with the larger than life woman on the wall either, but she does have something to say to us, and that’s what this story is about. What is the message to you and me?
Lately we’ve had more than one occasion to be standing at the arrivals door of the Amerigo Vespucci aeroporto Firenze, Florence Airport (by the way, did you know that in 1507 America was named after this dude named Amerigo?) Anyway, back to the story . . . and while standing there waiting for familiar faces to pop through the door, we’ve had ample time to ponder that interesting woman on the wall. Why does she look that way, and what is she doing with that picture frame?
C’mon! How can you not look at her? You’re only 4 feet away from this giant image of a beautiful person who is in a perfectly curious and thought provoking pose. So it got us thinking (exactly as they planned). Just to her left are the words “Voglio vivere così,” which translates to “I want to live like this.” Whether anyone ever actually goes to the Tuscan Tourism website or not, really doesn’t even matter. The point is that everyone, and I mean everyone, coming and going in that dinky little airport (and there are a powerful lot of people), at least take one glance at that woman and make the connection with Tuscany. That’s all they really needed to accomplish.
For years now, we-ve been fascinated with the Italian sense of design and especially, how they can connect image with message—they’re masters at the craft. Even if you don’t quite get the message (but you always do), you have to at least appreciate their graphics as works of art, because they really are.
Let’s take a closer look at that mysterious woman on the wall. First of all, besides being enticingly large, you’ll notice that she represents a number of intriguing contradictions. For example: Is she traditional or avant garde? Is she extremely serious or playfully seductive? Is she really beautiful or is it just her attitude that’s so attractive? Is she totally self-confident or flip about her opinion? Upon closer inspection, you find that she’s more traditional on her left side and contemporary on her right. The position of her hand up in the air is the key to her compelling invitation—as if to say, “what are you waiting on?” “Don’t miss this opportunity!”
Secondly, the introduction of the antique picture frame prop is absolutely brilliant. For us, it conjures up images of grand masterpieces in the Uffizi—as if she just stepped out of Botticelli’s La Primavera; vast panoramas across The Chianti, like windows on the world; an invitation into the wisdom of antiquity etc. And the fact that it’s an empty frame suggests that she (or you) can put whatever your little heart desires into that picture. Make this world exactly as you want it to be. You’re in charge. It speaks of both vision into the future and deep roots into the past—ancestral connections—perhaps unknown relatives—personal discoveries await your arrival! And all the while, her pose speaks of excitement and action amid the centuries old traditions. Who doesn’t want to be invited to that party?
The message is clear. They’ve summed it up perfectly: Tuscany is the land of compelling contradictions—enticing, deep, exciting, historic, avant-garde, serious, self-confident, seductive, playful, beautiful and flip possibilities. Don’t you really want to come to Tuscany to play? After all . . . Mr. Gould did!