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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Gardens of Florence #14: Giardino Villa La Pietra

Gardens of Florence #14: Giardino Villa La Pietra

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Villa La Pietra is currently the headquarters of New York University (NYU) in Italy. Its garden is by far my favourite private garden in Florence and it is one of the most renowned in Italy. Built by the Acton Family between 1908 and the beginning of the Second World War, its design is very much inspired by the real Renaissance gardens of Florence, though it also contains elements of the many gardening trends and styles popular since then.…

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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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Gardens of Florence #13: parco delle Cascine, the largest public park in Florence

Gardens of Florence #13: parco delle Cascine, the largest public park in Florence

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It takes longer to cross the Park Le Cascine (parco delle Cascine) than to cross the historical centre of Florence, this gives an idea of its size. This park is the favourite for those who want — or try — to get fit. Its proximity to the river Arno also makes it an ideal place to organize a picnic or lie down to sunbathe. Usually, it is not very busy, not even on a Saturday at noon on a mid-spring sunny day. Except for some fountains, an eccentric pyramid, and some other ornamental lamps, there is no other human imprint or artifices made by the man, not even terraces or cafes, except the two food trucks that are next to a recreational mini-zone with decadent fairground attractions for children.

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Gardens of Florence #4: parco mediceo di Pratolino

Gardens of Florence #4: parco mediceo di Pratolino

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This monumental complex, property of the City of Florence, is included since 2013 in the Unesco World Heritage list. In addition to housing The Colossus of the Appenines, the work of Giambologna for which it is perhaps best known, the Medicean Park in Pratolino contains two Italian gardens and another one in romantic style due to modifications in the 19th century, when the property passed to the Lorena and later to the Demidoff. …

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Farewell to Bernardo Bertolucci, director of «Stealing Beauty,» a postcard movie shot in Tuscany

Farewell to Bernardo Bertolucci, director of «Stealing Beauty,» a postcard movie shot in Tuscany

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Presented at the 49th iteration of the Cannes Film Festival and shot in Tuscany, the feature film Stealing Beauty (1996) shows the beautiful and cheerful wild face of Tuscany. Siena, Gaiole in Chianti, Castello di Brolio, Scorgiano, the photogenic Tuscan hills, the country houses, the olive trees meadows, the parties in luxury villas, summer, love, sex and interpersonal relationships are the ingredients of this arthouse movie. The film shows wonderful places located in the surroundings of Siena through its 19-year old protagonist interpreted by Liv Tyler. This postcard movie, with its eclectic and outstanding soundtrack  (Portishead, Billie Holiday, Steve Wonder, Liz Phair…), has been key in my romance with Tuscany and Florence. I was 19-year old as well when I saw Stealing Beauty in a cinema theatre in the summer of 1996, in Tenerife. Its romance was very important for me and blossomed my love for this land and this region. Master of the Novecento, poet, documentarist, filmmaker, producer, polemicist, Italian cinema auteur par excellence, Bertolucci died today (November 26, 2018) at his home in Trastevere, Rome, after a long illness.

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St. Regis Winter Garden Bar, a 5 star inner garden in Florence

St. Regis Winter Garden Bar, a 5 star inner garden in Florence

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Florence, with its artistic wonders and cosmopolitan air, has become the universal dream of any traveller. The present and past essence of the Tuscan capital can be breathed in the atmosphere of historical The St. Regis Florence Hotel, which boasts a superior category in piazza Ognissanti since the mid-18th century. Placed in central Florence, at the former Palazzo Giuntini, the picturesque St. Regis Florence has been the favoured stop of experienced travellers for decades. Granted with the Gambero Rosso BAR D’ITALIA prize since 2015 and for four consecutive years, its Winter Garden Bar provides visitors with an exceptional and personalized experience. Gratify yourself with an aperitif, an afternoon tea or after dinner drink accompanied by live piano music and savour the creations arranged with fresh ingredients and masterfully prepared by Bar Manager Christian Pampo and his crew. Everyday, Bloody Mary from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., afternoon tea from 3:30 to 5 p.m., and champagne ritual from 7 to 8 p.m. Open to the public, welcoming and exquisite service.

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History of art according to Florence or the Renaissance chapter at high school

History of art according to Florence or the Renaissance chapter at high school

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History of art was, without a doubt, my favourite subject at high school. By then, Italy was for me a distant and unknown country, it seemed so far as in another planet, and I did not even know what Tuscany meant or where in the map Florence was. At the age of 17, everything seemed so phantasmagorical and unreal … How rare, the unpredictable ways to which life sometimes leads. Especially, to those who try to escape from routine. I then loved the art history classes taught by María Luisa, always conducted in the dark. During those hours, I felt invisible and safe (at that time, my face was plagued by acne). We contemplated slides explained with genuine devotion by the teacher, and took notes of things that I thought I would never see on site. María Luisa inoculated me with the love for art and subtly with a passion for Florentine wonders. Today, 24 years later, I do not even remember her surname.

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