Going Viral……… Love Padlocks in Florence

This not just a bit of whimsy, although a number of people I’ve mentioned this to have
completely bypassed the really interesting viral element and gone straight to “aah.. isn’t that romantic”……….. I suppose it is, but not the point here.

On a recent trip to Florence (Firenze) my travelling companion and I were pondering how things go viral on the Internet (in between doing cultural things, obviously). About this time we started to notice ‘the padlocks’.  Hundreds of them, attached to various railings, bridges, artwork and other bits of street furniture. They were all around Florence and once you’ve seen one, you can’t stop, they are everywhere.

A bit of a squeeze.
A bit of a squeeze.

Some of the padlocks were in really ambitious places. The ones in the picture are about 1m deep inside a ventilation / light shaft close to the top of the Cathedral Dome.
Impressive as I reckon it was a two person job. You’d need to climb and crawl in, and then get extracted by a companion. There were also some attached to lightning conductors in dangerous places high up on the Dome.

It turns out that Love Padlocks is a ritual where sweethearts put a padlock on a public fixture and throw away the key to symbolise their everlasting love. It’s thought to have originated in China in the early 2000’s and is now happening in almost 30 countries globally. Maybe this is an example of something going viral in the physical world?

Not everyone sees it as a positive and loving gesture though.  In 2006 the Florence authorities tried to stamp out the practice, but the locks were being added faster than the workers could remove them. Judging by what I saw in the Florence authorities have well and truly lost the battle.

So, what’s the PONT?

  1. Love Padlocks are a good example of illustrating something going viral in the physical world. It’s not all You Tube videos and swine flu.
  2. City Authorities and their bolt cutters aren’t really a match for a bunch of disorganised sweethearts and their love padlocks.
  3. Some of the padlocks I saw were the keyless combination kind.  Are these for the people not prepared to fully commit to a relationship? (I’d be asking questions!)
A light dusting of padlocks appeared overnight
A light dusting of padlocks appeared overnight

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here: https://whatsthepont.com/churchill-fellowship/

6 Responses

  1. Nik Mariam

    Wonder how many viruses humanity has caught over the millennia? If ninja turtles were an example then can we be sold them as well?

  2. Extremely nice article! I first read about the Love padlocks and know that it’s expression love. Anyway I salute you for being so fantastic. Thanks for the wonderful post! 🙂

  3. Unique Expression of LOVE…Lovelocks commemorative custom engraved padlocks are a perfect way to show somebody just what they mean to you. Our artfully designed love padlocks are the perfect unique gift for any occasion. It’s the perfect way of letting those significant to you understand just how special they really are. Following an ancient custom, you can “lock your love” to that person or those people important in your life. Engraving your own personal message on a Lovelocks padlock is the ultimate way of saying “I love you” and solidifying those special relationships in your life. http://www.lovelocksonline.com & http://www.lovelock-itz.com

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