Author Gravater

Paco Neumann

Paco Neumann is a journalist, photographer, proofreader, flâneur and perpetual amateur currently living in between Florence, Berlin and Tenerife. He´s been a regular contributor to fashion, art, trend and lifestyle magazines and worked for news, advertising and communication agencies

Carnival of Viareggio, magic and fantasy on the Tuscan coast

Carnival of Viareggio, magic and fantasy on the Tuscan coast

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—Have you ever been to Viareggio carnival? Is it worth it?
—It’s a little decadent … It makes me sad.»
—Interesting, you just convinced me, I’ll go!

Although not as popular as the Venetian, the Carnival of Viareggio is one of the most important and acclaimed in Italy. I am from Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, where the carnival is the most outstanding festivity. It is the first big celebration of the year. It involves a massive exhibition of colour, enthusiasm, and frenzy, and that is why, probably, it drives me to discover other facets and versions of the same event. It is said that “diversity is equal to cultural richness.”

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Uncommon Museums of Florence # 3: Stibbert Museum

Uncommon Museums of Florence # 3: Stibbert Museum

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Frederick Stibbert was born in Florence in 1838. He was an eccentric antique collector, of most weapons and armours. If he had lived today, any doctor would have diagnosed him Diogenes syndrome. In spite of this, being of good lineage, albeit not being aristocratic, Stibbert prepared some rooms of his house to keep his collection, which would be ended up transforming the house in a real museum. After his death, the collection and the site were donated to the city of Florence, as Maria de’ Medici shortly did before the dynasty became extinct.…

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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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Anchored to Florence

Anchored to Florence

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It is the time of fear. Fear of what was, fear of what will be, fear of loneliness, and fear of the crowd. Fear of dying and fear of living. Fear to love, fear to be abandoned, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of suffering, fear of ending up hating this city. It is commonly said that fear paralyses, although sometimes it helps one to escape and start from scratch. At a time when fear prevented me from resuming my life in another city, without purposing it, Florence became my shelter. Since then, I live anchored to a suitcase, to drama, and to Florence too. Roaming is my way of life.…

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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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Brands made in Florence #4: Gianfranco Lotti

Brands made in Florence #4: Gianfranco Lotti

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Manufacturing bags, belts, wallets and accessories in leather since 1968 as a real brand, Gianfranco Lotti is deeply anchored in this Florentine heritage, keeping the memory to create modernity that lasts in the future. Gianfranco Lotti has been artfully crafting bags since the age of 14 (1957) perpetuating the art of crafting leather as he learned from his masters. The keylock is the symbol featured on Gianfranco Lotti’s bags and products and is a signature of all the collections. It casts back to an ancient emblem of the Medici family in Florence. The keylock materializes the immaterial link between the ancient art of craft, the respect of the heritage and the openness to the future.…

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Palazzo Medici-Riccardi presents Picasso portrayed by Edward Quinn

Palazzo Medici-Riccardi presents Picasso portrayed by Edward Quinn

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Until March 1, the exhibition ‘Picasso. The other half of the sky. Photographs by Edward Quinn’ at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence proposes an approach to discover the Spanish artist and his relationship with the female world through the photos of one of the most notable photographers of the twentieth century: Edward Quinn. The show is the result of the unusual friendship that linked Picasso with Edward Quinn. Quinn became one of the few photographers who were allowed to photograph him at work, and he was embraced in his private life too. Consisting of eighty photos, the exhibition shows the intimate and private Picasso.…

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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 on 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 unusual, 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 showing the art treasures 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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The heart is a lonely hunter also in Florence

The heart is a lonely hunter also in Florence

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Florence is a city that kills through strong emotions. There is no need to be accompanied, it is enough with ourselves and our senses. As Singer — the protagonist of the novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers —, when I wander anonymously among the whole crowd during hours through the streets of the city, it always seems that I am the only lonely person. However, it is not adequate to attribute to lonely souls the sorrow of an unhappy life. As I see, Florence is, above all, a destination for couples or groups; few people travel alone. It is the human being’s lifeguard against his own inner isolation.…

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Florence, in the city of David

Florence, in the city of David

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The soul of David spreads throughout Florence as a ubiquitous and sheltering presence. All the cities have their symbol: the Statue of Liberty, the musicians of Bremen, the Berlin bear, the Eiffel Tower, the cock of Barcelos, the Christ of Corcovado, the Big Ben … The flower of the lily shares with the David the leadership of popularity in the city of the Renaissance.…

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