Medici villas #4: Villa Medici Roma

Medici villas #4: Villa Medici Roma

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The Villa Medici in Rome, together with its garden, it is one of the most majestic of the Medicean villas. Located next to Villa Borghese Park, it was acquired by Ferdinand I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1576. Since 1803 the building hosts the French Academy in Rome. It was precisely Ferdinand I de’ Medici who commissioned Bartolomeo Ammannati to complete the structure. It is the first property of the Florentine family in Rome, with which they reaffirmed their permanent presence in the city.…

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Medici villas #2: Poggio a Caiano

Medici villas #2: Poggio a Caiano

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The construction of this medicean villa located between Florence, Prato and Pistoia was the whim of Lorenzo the Magnificent, thus he commissioned it to his favourite architect, Giuliano da Sangallo, at the end of the 15th century. A residence for the pure leisureliness of contemplation by the dynastic power, the villa of Poggio a Caiano recovers elements of the classic architecture such as the fronton and Ionic temple at the main facade. Due to the harmony and symmetry of its proportions, as for representing an ideal of life in the outskirts under Humanism, the site is listed World Heritage by the UNESCO since 2013. Walking the Parco all’inglese and the Giardino all’italiana is as stimulating as visiting its interior. Free entrance.
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Medici villas #1: La Petraia

Medici villas #1: La Petraia

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Perched on a hill top of Castello, with a panoramic view of Florence, this astonishing 14th century villa was first owned by the Brunelleschi family and the Strozzi, before being home to Cosimo I de’ Medici and his offsprings. It was also the favourite residence of Vittorio Emanuele II in the company of her lover Rosa Vercellana. Its significance has paved the way for restorations throughout the centuries, thus becoming declared UNESCO World Heritage in 2013 and an asset of the state museums today. Not to miss are the famous lunettes painted by Giusto Utens — each representing a Medici villa and garden —, the sculptures of Giambologna and a wander lost in its gardens. There is a guided tour in Italian every 30 minutes. Free entrance.

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Medici villas #3: Medicean villa di Castello – Accademia della Crusca

Medici villas #3: Medicean villa di Castello – Accademia della Crusca

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Like the villa of La Petraia, the villa medicea di Castello is in the hills of Castello, a few kilometres from Florence. Built in the 14th century and completely rebuilt in the 16th century, it is mostly famous for its gardens, which compete in splendour with those of Boboli. Also known as Villa Reale, L’Olmo or Il Vivaio, di Castello serves currently as the headquarters of the Accademia della Crusca, Italy’s most prestigious linguistic institution, so the visits are restricted and always subject to prior request. The gardens under management of the Polo Museale di Firenze, the institution in charge of the public museums of the province of Florence, are however more accessible. In addition to the gardens, another must-see is its library, the largest in the country regarding linguistics and history of the Italian language.
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Monica Magnani’s Florence

Monica Magnani’s Florence

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Se qualcuno mi dice ‘Firenze’ la prima cosa che mi viene in mente è fuggire via. Firenze, a volte, io la guardo e mi sembra diventata un luogo comune, un cliché inventato per far contenti i turisti. Firenze per la nave da crociera è il percorso di due ore, per gli amanti clandestini è la città di un fine-settimana, per le famiglie sono i musei delle vacanze di Pasqua, per le gite scolastiche è il capitolo sul Rinascimento, per gli animi malinconici è lo struggimento della sindrome di Stendhal. Io, da questa Firenze, ho continuamente voglia di scappare e forse mi piace proprio perché, poi, quando sono fuggita via dai luoghi comuni, è così bello aver nostalgia di questa città! Firenze, per chi ha voglia di scappare, ha molte vie di fuga: per alcune ci vuole un mezzo di trasporto, per altre, invece, basta un paio di scarpe comode.

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Abida Allouh’s Florence

Abida Allouh’s Florence

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Florence is an eternal dream

Florence is an eternal dream, the most beautiful city in the world. Since I remember, I have been fascinated by antiquity, history, and the Medici dynasty. So I decided to visit Florence, the city where Paco Neumann lives. He is one of my best friends. I met Paco in the mid-nineties when he lived and studied journalism and photography in Madrid. I have always been attracted to art, so I explored several museums and many Renaissance churches during my vacation in Florence. Needless to say that the entire city is a vast open-air museum.…

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Florence Biennale 2019

Florence Biennale 2019

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On view until October 28 at Fortezza da Basso, Florence Biennale is a minor and modest contemporary art exhibition in Florence, where it is regarded as a showcase of the international contemporary art production. Every two years the Florence Biennale enlivens the Medicean city with a programme of collateral events such as conferences, performances, workshops and lectures. All this with a view to offer artists and their audience the opportunity to engage with art and culture, and know more about the theme of each edition of the biennial. The exhibiting artists compete in a range of art categories, which, in the XIIth edition of the Florence Biennale, includes Drawing & Calligraphy, Painting, Mixed Media, Sculpture, Ceramic Art, Textile & Fiber Art, Jewellery Art, Photography, New Media Art, Video Art, Installation Art, and Performance Art.

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Vertical beauty: towers of Florence

Vertical beauty: towers of Florence

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The ‘skyscrapers’ of the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, high constructions became a form of power for the aristocracy. The feudal nobles and their vanity competed among themselves building ‘skyscrapers’ to demonstrate their authority and wealth – as if they were contemporary multinationals companies. Although the Tuscan Manhattan of the Middle Ages is undoubtedly San Gimignano, Florence is not far behind. This city of modest dimensions has currently 70 fortress-houses which could have had a defensive purpose apart from taking advantage of the housing space once the internal wars ceased.…

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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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Gardens of Florence #5: il giardino di Santa Maria Novella, flowers and fruits of Florentine tradition

Gardens of Florence #5: il giardino di Santa Maria Novella, flowers and fruits of Florentine tradition

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The garden of the prestigious perfume brand Santa Maria Novella is located in Firenze-Castello, close to the Medician villa of La Petraia. In this 161,458 ft² paradise still operates the ancient tradition of harvesting the hortus conclusus, just as the Dominican friars used to do in the monastery as of thirteenth century. In the garden and orchard of Santa Maria Novella grow all extracts and essences needed for the elaboration of the perfumes and other products of the legendary brand. The aroma of plants, trees and shrubs; the butterflies and lizards; the Tuscan sun; the Duomo of Florence in the distance … A perfect anti-stress frame prone to relaxation in a pure natural state. (Un)fortunately, it is not open to the public, so better ask for an appointment. (visiteofficina@smnovella.com).
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