Oltrarno artisan walk — Experience the local, the authentic and the hidden Florence with Maria B.

Oltrarno artisan walk — Experience the local, the authentic and the hidden Florence with Maria B.

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Maria B. — half Italian, half Swedish — is a graphic designer with great sensitivity and passion for any form of aesthetics and beauty. Florentine Experience Shopping was created by Maria in 2015 to spread her love for authentic and incomparable Florentine craftsmanship. She spent months hunting handicraft workshops interacting with the artisans and designers, where she gained knowledge of what is behind a genuine artisan piece. Her private and customized ‘Oltrarno Artisan Walk’ — among other exciting and recommendable tours she also organizes — offers a unique visit to some arresting and extraordinary working spaces. There one can observe closely artisans creating the most delightful and outstanding handmade products, for instance: leather bags and shoes, gold and silversmiths, Florentine mosaic, wood art, and much more.…

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Gardens of Florence #3: giardino Bardini, splendour in the grass

Gardens of Florence #3: giardino Bardini, splendour in the grass

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Florence reaches its climax in early April as wisteria flowers blossom at Giardino Bardini. This historic garden, built with fountains and statues in English and Baroque style, is placed on a steep hill of Oltrarno. Its open green space was made public after restoration in 2007. Best to explore it is — possibly with someone loved — at eight in the morning, when just gardeners are around. Further wonders include the Belvedere, Giardino Boboli or the hike up to Costa San Giorgio and Porta San Giorgio, before pleasantly walking down to Porta San Niccolò along the trace of the old city wall.

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Gardens of Florence #11: giardino Corsi Annalena, first romantic garden in Florence

Gardens of Florence #11: giardino Corsi Annalena, first romantic garden in Florence

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It is said that Cosimo I de’ Medici built an underground tunnel from Boboli gardens and Palazzo Pitti passing under Torrigiani and Corsi Annalena gardens to go to the Florentine country side without being seen and molested. This last one, a small size private garden takes its name from countess Anna Elena Malatesta, whose adjacent palace is today the legendary Pensione Annalena. At the end of 18th century, the garden was acquired by the Corsi family, hence its actual name Corsi Annalena, and designed by the architect Giuseppe Manetti. It is located in Oltrarno, between Via dei Serragli, Via de’ Mori and Via Romana, facing the Boboli gardens. Numerous terracotta sculptures representing different mythological characters ornament the green field. One of the fountains has a copy of Verrocchio’s Putto con delfino. The garden, with a uniform style inspired in the neoclassical cannons and indisputable beauty, has also a glasshouse. Beside its reduced sized, it has several semiprivate ambients that allow the visitor to isolate in an atmosphere prone to instant infatuation. Nowadays the garden Corsi Annalena is private and it is only open on special occasions.
To visit the gardens it is mandatory to call +39552280105 or send an email to scarsellistefania@yahoo.it
Giardino Corsi Annalena – Via Romana 38

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

Gardens of Florence #8: giardino dell’Orticultura, 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, in the giardino dell’Orticultura 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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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 intending to build the magnificent Pitti Palace, later owned by the Medici family. The Medici commissioned the landscaping 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 most significant historical parks in Florence. Around the principal 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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Brands made in Florence #3: Angela Caputi Giuggiù, unique and inimitable jewellery

Brands made in Florence #3: Angela Caputi Giuggiù, unique and inimitable jewellery

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Angela Caputi started her costume jewellery business in Florence in the 1970s taking classic Hollywood cinema as inspiration. For almost half a century and although she has achieved international recognition, Caputi has managed to stay faithful to her original craft principles, continuing to use resins made in Italy, and setting up the pieces in her Santo Spirito shop-workshop. Caputi has stores in Milan and Paris, and nowadays she is immersed in the launch of her new shop in Rome.

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Palazzo Guadagni, aperitif deluxe in Florence

Palazzo Guadagni, aperitif deluxe in Florence

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Rooftop views are unparalleled in Florence, proof of it is the rooftop garden bar at the Hotel Palazzo Guadagni. This ancient palace in the Oltrarno area has a privileged view from the loggia, which turns the palazzo’s terrace garden bar into a marvellous setting for having a red wine or a cocktail in Florence. It is a novel space neither overly exploited nor well known in Florence yet, thus you can take an aperitif as a local and without the need of a previous reservation. The views, the atmosphere and the service are simply unique and it is the perfect spot to amaze dates and visitors.…

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The gates of Florence

The gates of Florence

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The gates of Florence were part of the city´s old defensive border. Sadly, the wall by the northern side of the Arno River was demolished in the 19th century so to pave the way for the main ring road. However, part of the wall located in Oltrarno, at the south side of the Arno, and other gates remain today: Porta San Gallo, Porta San Niccolò, Porta alla Croce, Porta San Frediano, Porta San Giorgio, Porta San Miniato and Porta al Prato. A stroll on a sunny afternoon from Porta San Giorgio to Porta San Miniato — with the ancient wall on one side and the terrific landscape of the Tuscan countryside on the other — is a must; feels like natural Prozac for the senses. …

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Cappella Brancacci, the Sistine Chapel of Florence

Cappella Brancacci, the Sistine Chapel of Florence

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Beyond the streets crowded by the omnipresent tourists looking for Florentine gems from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, there are less exploited corners of great historical and artistic richness as the Brancacci Chapel, also known as the “Sistine Chapel of the first Renaissance”. The paintings on the walls are among the most popular and influential frescoes at the time. They are distributed in two horizontal levels along the chapel, which is part of the Carmine church and convent, founded in Florence in the mid-thirteenth century by a group of Carmelite monks from Pisa. Located in Piazza del Carmine (Florence-Oltrarno), the Cappella Brancacci is one of the oldest monumental buildings in Florence. The frescoes illustrating the life of Saint Peter are masterpieces by Masaccio and Masolino, painted between 1425 and 1427, just in the early years of the Florentine Renaissance. Later on, Filippino Lippi was called to complete Masaccio’s chapel decoration, which had been left unfinished due to Masaccio’s death in 1428.

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Shoe master Roberto Ugolini and his traditional atelier in Santo Spirito

Shoe master Roberto Ugolini and his traditional atelier in Santo Spirito

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Roberto Ugolini is one of the most prestigious shoemakers in Florence. His workshop is located right at street level, in Via dei Michelozzi 17, in front of the basilica of Santo Spirito, in Oltrarno, as if in old times, when medieval guilds were so present in cities. The business opened twenty-two years ago just like a repair shop, but he soon began to make shoes too, always in Italian and English leather tanned in Italy. It takes thirty hours of work to create a pair of handmade shoes; thus there´s a waiting list over six months to acquire any. Above and below, photos show one of the craftsmen, probably the sexiest shoemaker in the old continent.

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