Friday, 20 January 2017

Florentin

The youngest teenage son mentioned some time ago that he would like to do a graffiti tour in Tel Aviv. He's at that lovely age when everything I ever suggest is "boring", so I was more than happy to arrange this during the recent Chanukah break. My only rule was that he was only allowed to use his phone for photos during the tour. In the end that wasn't an issue. The tour was so engaging that he wasn't distracted by his phone (a rare thing!) and was interested to hear what the guide had to say.
Florentin (or "Florentine-oosh" as it is affectionately known by the locals) is a neighbourhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv, named for David Florentin, a Greek Jew who purchased the land in the late 1920s. At the time anti-Semitism was on the rise in Greece and the Jewish quarter in Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, had been destroyed by fire, leaving over 53,000 Jews homeless. Due to Ottoman land laws, building in the area was held up until 1933, then development sped up due to its proximity to the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway. The Jaffa Municipality allowed shops and light industries to be opened on the ground floors of the new residential buildings, providing a source of income for the wave of immigrants settling in Palestine at the time.
As with much of Southern Tel Aviv, for many decades the area of Florentin then suffered from urban decay and poverty. Today it is a combination of industrial zone, garment district, marketplace and assembly point for foreign workers looking for jobs. Most of the residents are young and Florentin is now becoming known as a hip, "cool" place to be in Tel Aviv, with coffeehouses, markets, bars, galleries and parties. Street artists such as Dede, an artist from Holland, Klone and many others have made the neighbourhood their home, along with new immigrants from France and elsewhere.
Florentin was the setting for a popular TV series in the late 1990s called Florentin. The area's hip/trendy atmosphere has led to comparisons with SoHo and the Lower East Side in New York City.
The Florentin Urban Culture and Graffiti Tour is run by Guy Sharett, a linguaphile who lives in the neighbourhood and runs StreetWise Hebrew, an innovative method of Hebrew language instruction combining the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Tel Aviv. He also happens to be the grandnephew of Moshe Sharett, Israel’s second prime minister.
Guy originally started the tours in the summer of 2011, during the Social Justice protest in Tel Aviv, as a way of explaining some of the political and social commentary that was perhaps beyond the grasp of the Hebrew beginner. Besides the graffiti course, he offers a tour of the city’s Levinsky market ("Wake up and smell the Zatar"); a tour of the historic Trumpeldor Cemetery; an "American Idol" Israeli-style tour; and a tour of Jaffa Port, located just south of Tel Aviv.
We started our tour outside the City Cafe on the corner of Herzl and Florentin Street. Guy immediately began to show us street signs and graffiti filled with Hebrew gems and insights. He pointed out hidden messages and art pieces that we would have otherwise missed, and showed us where to look for the ever-present eggplants! Nearly every building is covered with art. Guy zeroes in on specific pieces and artists, turning the walls from simple graffiti to fabulous pieces of individual art, poetry, philosophy and subversion. It was fascinating. Stops included hidden alleyways, a nearly century-old Synagogue, and gritty workshops where beautiful handmade furniture is still being created.
My son and I are both Hebrew speakers yet we learned a few new tweaks and nuances (me more than him!). Guy has spent time contacting the graffiti artists behind the art and provided details that you would never find out yourself - not just about the art, but about the area and the way it is changing as it goes through the drawn-out process of gentrification. New aspects of Tel Aviv ("the Viv") were revealed, social and political issues were raised, as well as interesting linguistic quirks. It was a great tour for visitors and veteran Israelis alike, and I now have more of an appreciation for even the littlest of graffiti work.
Guy has a series of "Streetwise Hebrew" podcasts. For those of you who aren't able to participate in a tour and would like to learn more, have a listen on itunes and android.
* This post has been shared on Travel Tuesday, Our World Tuesday, Pictorial TuesdayOutdoor Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, Wednesday Around the World, Travel Photo Thursday, Share Your CupLittle Things ThursdayFriday Foto FriendsWelcome to the Weekend, Weekend Travel InspirationSeasons, My Sunday PhotoSundays in my CityMonday MuralWordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) and City Tripping.

25 comments:

Mami Made It said...

Very interesting post and great pictures! Thanks for sharing :)

Jedidja said...

The two with the iron beads are the most beautiful! Love also the pics wit you handsome son on it! Great post. Thanks you and have a Nice Friday.

Nonnie said...

Very interesting information and photos. We visited Tel Aviv twice and I don't remember anything except that we were there. You have a very handsome son and I think it's neat that he was so caught up in all the history.

Mary Hutchins said...

Enjoyed the tour! It must have been a great time, sharing this adventure with your son.

Miss Val's Creations said...

What a fun tour! I love when an area gets revitalized and becomes a cool place for people to live and work. Especially when it is a place that has experienced a lot of difficulty. I never knew Hebrew had updated street lingo like other languages. It must have been entertaining learning new words for thing.

bettyl-NZ said...

What an interesting way to spend the day! I don't see much here so this is a treat. Thanks so much for sharing the pictures with us. And thank your son for wanting to go!

Pea bea said...

Loved seeing your sharing. How awesome to visit TelAviv. I usually only see graffiti while waiting on a train to go buy. The railroad probably doesn't like or allow it, but some of the cars have such lovely paintings and scenes and I can only imagine the people or children that spray paint the cars. They are so talented and it is great to watch as the cars go by on the tracks.

Peabea@Peabea Scribbles

VeggieMummy said...

Sounds like you and your son had a really fun day together. My daughter goes to uni in Bristol and I am quite tempted to do a Banksy tour there. xx

Jim Vail said...

Anytime our teenage daughters expressed an interest in getting out and seeing something we jumped on it. Tel Aviv is a fascinating city, thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!

monica said...

Hi, I'm new here but what an interesting post!

I've always had in my mind to do a graffiti tour of London... now I really want to do it!

OneDad3Girls said...

I do love bright and colourful street art

Thank you for linking up

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Marvelous collection of the graffiti

Dorothy said...

I never knew there were official "graffiti tours." I've seen some pretty interesting graffiti in this world. How great that your son was interested and that you got to spend such a nice day with him!!

Molly said...

that street art is fabulous...what a great part of the city

Mollyxx

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Fascinating street art - thanks for sharing this!
Enjoy your week!

Coombe Mill said...

It can be hard to get young tens out, this looks like the perfect trip!

Anonymous said...

This was a fun post, Lisa! What we do for our kids, so they're not bored, eh? (wink, wink) This graffiti is not as macabre as some as we see here (some littered with skulls and other references to death). One thing I can see you're a great mom, engaged in the lives of your teens:):) Thank you much for sharing this interesting trip with ALL SEASONS. Have a great week!

Tom said...

...nothing boring here! I have a 15 year old grandson who finds just about everything boring.

Neesie said...

Brilliant to see a young one engaging in such a way. I've never been to Tel Aviv so thank you for sharing your great photographs.
I lived in Melbourne Australia a few years ago and they have special streets for graffiti called 'The Lanes'. Tourists flock there.
Have a great week :D

restlessjo said...

Fascinating where graffiti has taken us to, Lisa, and it's great to have found such a 'cool' tour to do with your son. Thank you so much for sharing :)

Nicholas V said...

What a great idea! Nice shots of the street art.
Thanks for linking up at the Travel Tuesday meme.

hilary said...

Love this post! I'm a big fan of street art and so is my teenage son! We often go "hunting" for new and fun art together in and around Los Angeles. #citytripping

Jann Olson said...

This place looks so interesting. Easy to see why your son liked it! Very handsome young man also. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
hugs,
Jann

Oakland Daily Photo said...

The green face, smoking granny cracked me up. I'm impressed with the idea of an urban graffiti tour. Thanks for contributing to this week's Monday Mural.

Wander Mum said...

Fantastic pictures! Sounds like a great tour and interesting to hear more about the background of the area. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

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