Friday, October 21, 2005

Reflections On The Arno

Shortly after we arrived in Florence last Sunday we realised that our hotel lay within 5-10 minutes walk of 3 buildings on one bank of the River Arno. The first of these was the headquarters of the Florence Police'’s Antimafia Squad. This building was identified by an appropriate sign, that I decided to photograph, and 5 closed circuit television cameras that made me decide not to take any more photographs!

The second building was the British Consulate. This had an armed policeman on duty 24 hours a day, but that seemed to be the extent of the security measures.

The third building was the US Consulate. This could be approached by road from three directions. The approach from one direction had been permanently blocked off by two enormous flower troughs. The approach from the front was blocked 24 hours a day by a parked police car. I'’m not sure how the third approach was covered, but covered I'’m sure it was. A second police car was also parked permanently next to the building.

I also spotted the Bangladeshi Consulate some distance away. It didn'’t seem to have any particular security coverage.

Presumably this high security surveillance of American Consulates is reflected in major cities all over the world, and isn't just a consequence of the global importance of the US. It seemed to me a highly visual statement of how threatened the USA feels at present.