Gardens of Florence #9: giardino di Boboli, the paradigm of a 16th century Italian garden

Gardens of Florence #9: giardino di Boboli, the paradigm of a 16th century Italian garden

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The Boboli Gardens date back to 1418, when Luca Pitti bought its land in Oltrarno with the intention of building the magnificent Pitti Palace, later owned by the Medici family. The landscaping was commissioned by the Medici to Niccolò Tribolo, the famous architect responsible for the gardens of their villas of Castello and La Petraia. However, after the premature death of Tribolo, it was Bartolomeo Ammannati who finished the job. The Boboli is the paradigm of the 16th century Italian garden, as well as one of the largest historical parks in Florence. Around the main axes are placed avenues, hedges, terraces full of statues and fountains. The first operas of history were also represented in its open air amphitheatre.
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On the Road: a Florentine travel bookstore with added-value

On the Road: a Florentine travel bookstore with added-value

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On the Road is not only the title of the Beat Generation best-known novel. It is also a charming bookshop in Florence specialized in travel, the only one of its kind in the city. Opened in 2012, in this bookshop, the continents are classified by colors. “For me, Africa is red and not black – the color that anyone would associate with this continent,” says Martina. Martina owns the business. A bellissima donna italiana, kind, graceful, and refined who is, in fact, a simple woman bursting with life and sweetness. She is a great expert in travel literature and, no need to say, she is passionate about her job. But being a bookseller not only implies selling books: “It is exhausting.” There are many tasks hinter den Kulissen: select books, stay tuned for editorial novelties, accounting, expert advice, and affection. In addition to all these duties, Martina has time to organize book presentations with authors or workshops on photography and travel literature. On the Road not only sells guides but also novels focused on travels, maps, books on hiking and cycling routes, travel literature for children and last but not least, it gives priceless personalized attention.
On the Road – Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 32 A/R – 50134 Florence

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The tolling of the bells: the heartbeat of Florence

The tolling of the bells: the heartbeat of Florence

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Not everything in Florence is a matter of renaissance “facade”. The city could be experienced by sight, but also by taste, its smells, trough touching as well as through hearing. I hate traffic noise, but I love the rumour of the crowd and the Florentine bells. In my different stays, it has been impossible for me to avoid the ones of Santa Croce, of the Duomo, neither of San Lorenzo´s. The bells produce an energetic and penetrating sound, but always embody some relaxing and peaceful vibe, spiritual purposes aside. I like to think that the sound of the bells equals the heartbeat of the city. One that has lived for so many centuries but still remains very alive, flourishing and young at heart. Indeed, I feel offended when a visitor complains about this particular sound. That certainly unveils my true love for this city.

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Gardens of Florence #8: giardino dell’Orticoltura, a locals’ garden in the city centre

Gardens of Florence #8: giardino dell’Orticoltura, a locals’ garden in the city centre

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Born as an “experimental garden” in the middle of the 19th century, the Via Bolognese park in northern Florence is today one of the most beloved and quiet places to visit during spring and summer. In addition to the renaissance Loggetta Bondi, there is also a large glass and iron greenhouse, considered one of the most beautiful in Italy, as well as the rarest when built following design of Giacomo Roster. The greenhouse is used today for celebrating events, parties, food and cultural activities, while the garden houses the Municipal Library of Horticulture, hosting since 1862 horticultural exhibitions in order to promote the “knowledge of good horticultural practices.” The feeling here is that of a “neighbourhood park”, despite located not far from the tourist hustle in the historic centre. It has a bar with terrace which is frequented mostly by university students.

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Arty cocktails at Antico Caffè del Moro in Florence

Arty cocktails at Antico Caffè del Moro in Florence

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Some venues of Florence became my favourites thanks to dating local guys. The Art Bar – Caffè degli Artisti – Antico Caffè del Moro is one of them. I believe locals are always the key to entering everyday life, anywhere. And, although those dates rarely succeeded, fortunately the places still endure. Despite usually crowded, it´s worth a visit just at Antico´s happy hour (6-9 p.m.), with fruit cocktails at 7 euros (10 euros after 9 p.m.). Customers range from American college students with their last generation iPhones, to gentlemen from the neighbourhood and residents in their early forties. Founded in 1926, it consists of a small room with ten round tables with candles, and the service (especially the girls) is charming. The buts? Cocktails sometimes look like fruit salads and the preparation of drinks takes its time.
Via del Moro 4 50123 Florence FI – open every day from 6:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. (Friday and Saturday until 2 p.m.)

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Pontormo at Palazzo Pitti: from drawing to painting

Pontormo at Palazzo Pitti: from drawing to painting

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The exhibition Incontri miracolosi: Pontormo dal disegno alla pittura (Miraculous Encounters: Pontormo from drawing to painting) presents a series of works of outstanding importance, most of which are here displayed for the first time together. Thirty years after it was last here, the return visit to Florence of the Halberdier (1494- 1557) is the perfect occasion for an exhibition dedicated to Pontormo. This magnificent portrait by Pontormo, acquired by the Getty Museum of Los Angeles in 1989 for the then record-breaking sum of $32.5 million, now finds itself back in its home town of Florence. It’s the centre piece of the exhibition curated by Bruce Edelstein, which is now on show in the Sala delle Nicchie in Palazzo Pitti until 29th July 2018. Displayed along with the Halberdier, there is also the Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap, among other master pieces.

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When arriving and departing are just the two sides of the same trip

When arriving and departing are just the two sides of the same trip

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What I enjoy most in life is my extended visits to Florence with no plans, neither a date to leave. When you live among three cities, it is difficult to determine which one becomes your home or which your identity is. There are places that I feel more like my house, even if I don´t reside most of the year there. This is what happens with Florence. “Arriving and departing are just the two sides of the same trip, the train that arrives is the same train that has to leave. The time of the meeting is also of the farewell.” This is what the Brazilian soloist Maria Rita sings in her mythical song “Encontros e despedidas.” “Life is repeated in one station. Every day is a sway. There are people who arrive to stay, there are people who leave forever, there are people who come and want to go back, there are some who come and want to stay. Others just came to look around, whereas there are people who came to dream and others to laugh and cry … Thus, the platform of the station is the life of this place of mine. It is life in itself.”

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Gardens of Florence #7: giardino delle Rose

Gardens of Florence #7: giardino delle Rose

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The giardino delle Rose is one of the most beautiful panoramic gardens of Florence. Here bloom some varieties of roses even in late autumn. Created by the architect Giuseppe Poggi in 1865, the giardino delle Rose is nowadays a sculptural park of reduced dimensions. Located on the hill of San Miniato, just below the piazzale Michelangelo, this garden holds a privileged position and stands as a perfect “green balcony” towards San Niccolò. From this place it is possible to view the whole city at a glance. The garden of the Roses has around a thousand varieties of roses and other ornamental plants, in addition to twelve sculptures by Jean-Michel Folon. Here one can sunbathe, read, take a nap, walk and contemplate other not so typical architectural sites of the city.
Giardino delle Rose – Viale Giuseppe Poggi 2 – open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m – free entrance

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Betty Long’s Florence

Betty Long’s Florence

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Bye for now, beautiful Florence. When in Florence, exceptional and majestic artworks created by humans wait for you in every corner. Its streets, always crowded with the bustle that comes with it, make Florence the perfect place for lonely travelers’ initiation where they will never feel alone. Where the coffee, although expensive, is exquisite. Where Michelangelo’s David and the Duomo share space with Dior and Chanel. The city welcomed and captivated me from the very beginning with its magic and, although the coin thrown at Il Porcellino insisted on predicting the opposite, I will always want to return to Florence. Thank you, Paco Neumann, for showing me your Florence, especially from the most outstanding balcony I have ever stepped on. Ci vediamo presto!

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Gardens of Florence #6: giardino dell’Iris

Gardens of Florence #6: giardino dell’Iris

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Each year Florence is ready to witness the flowering of the iris in the giardino dell’Iris. It is located in piazzale Michelangelo and was founded in 1954 with the aim of organizing an annual international contest to reward the best varieties of iris. Florence is considered the natural home of the iris because of the bond that this flower always had with the history of the city. The emblem of Florence is a red iris in a white field, and not a lily, as is mistakenly believed. The site offers panoramic views of the city thanks to a surface of approximately two and a half hectares on the hill of an olive grove. It is divided by paths and stone paths, flowerbeds and stairs. Here one can see the variants of the iris: intermediate and dwarf bearded, Japanese, Sibiric, Louisiana … In addition to guided tours in Italian and English, watercolor painting courses are also offered.
Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Last admission, half an hour before closing time. Free entrance…

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