The lovely doorbells of Florence

by Rebecca Bricker on March 6, 2012

On my walks around my Florence neighborhood, I loved looking at the doorbells.

They are tiny works of art – masterpieces of metallurgy.

Styles range from rustically medieval to sleekly moderne.

On each panel, engraved nameplates are the same shape and size, but their shapes and sizes differ from one panel to the next. I especially like the elbow-macaroni design. (Ah, Italy.)

I lived in a contemporary high-rise that brazenly towered over this elegant old neighborhood. My building had a high-tech buzzer board with a closed-circuit security camera.

I made some inquiries and learned that when you move into a building with Old World charm and doorbells in Florence, you go to the neighborhood hardware store – la ferramenta – that stocks custom-made nameplates for your building’s doorbell panel.

The plates and buttons on the doorbell panels tell little stories of their own. Residents with the shiniest buttons get more visitors and deliveries it would seem. You often can tell the newcomers from the old-timers in the building by the sheen of the plates, the style of the fonts.  Some names have nearly faded away.

In this transient world, how nice that this tradition is still etched in brass.



Kathleen Pooler March 6, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Oh Rebecca, I love these glimpses into life in Florence with its Old World charms. The pictures are lovely. Thanks for sharing!


Nora March 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Pack your bags (and you can pack mine, since you’re the expert) and let’s go. I could use some old world charm. Barring that, thanks for the blog post. It’s lovely.

Pat March 9, 2012 at 7:20 am

Isn’t it amazing how everything in the Old World can make such a fascinating story, if we just slow down long enough to notice. Whoever knew doorbells could be so interesting.

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