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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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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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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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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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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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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Firenze Jazz Festival 2019: where Florence’s streets become a jazz club

Firenze Jazz Festival 2019: where Florence’s streets become a jazz club

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Jazz bassist Furio Di Castri founded the Firenze Jazz Fringe Festival (FJFF) intending to bring jazz to the general public. It converts churches, squares, and other Oltrarno premises into the stage for the concerts. Past editions already counted around 40,000 participants. During five days, from September 11 to 15, the festival, now renamed as Firenze Jazz Festival, returns to Florence offering 40 live acts in different locations. The program stands out for the coexistence of new productions and renown international artists concerts. Firenze Jazz Festival is an innovative and sustainable show pursuing a cultural alternative in which the participation of the public is crucial. It is, above all, an event by and for the people, which is involved in the street performances, concerts, improvisation and DJ sessions. …

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Before sunset at Ponte alla Carraia

Before sunset at Ponte alla Carraia

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During the spring and summer evenings, when the Arno River runs low, Ponte alla Carraia grants one of the most picturesque sights of Florence. An isle in the middle of the river called Pescaia di Santa Rosa — between Ponte Amerigo Vespucci and Ponte alla Carraia — stands as a sort of no man’s land and becomes the spot where young people get together for a beer, a chat or share a joint. The water drop reaches three meters, thus the force of the current is considerable. However, whereas the bridge helps to maintain the natural flow of the river, the area close to Oltrarno remains dry and passable. Moreover, here the town flourishes against the light, a top scene for those in love with melancholic sunsets in Florence.…

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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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