May is the month of dedication to Mary in the Catholic tradition, and I find myself glancing upwards to admire some of the 1200 tabernacles to be found decorating the walls and buildings lining the cobbled streets of Florence. Sometimes primitive, sometimes exquisitely beautiful, all are are a testament to the once fervent religious nature and atmosphere of the town. They are a constant reminder that although the origins of the city are pre-Christian, Florence was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In the 1300s, as cities, towns and villages claimed patron saints, Florence claimed the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist as its patron saints, and they are featured prominently in the city's tabernacles, both old and new. Regardless of religious belief, there is something timeless and reassuring about her omnipresence here. The city's Mother - her tender care, wisdom, grace, humility and love is honoured in the Italian day-to-day, ever-present in these shrines.