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

When arriving and departing are just the two sides of the same trip

When arriving and departing are just the two sides of the same trip

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What I enjoy most in life is my extended visits to Florence with no plans, neither a date to leave. When you live among three cities, it is difficult to determine which one becomes your home or which your identity is. There are places that I feel more like my house, even if I don´t reside most of the year there. This is what happens with Florence. «Arriving and departing are just the two sides of the same trip, the train that arrives is the same train that has to leave. The time of the meeting is also of the farewell.» This is what the Brazilian soloist Maria Rita sings in her mythical song «Encontros e despedidas.» «Life is repeated in one station. Every day is a sway. There are people who arrive to stay, there are people who leave forever, there are people who come and want to go back, there are some who come and want to stay. Others just came to look around, whereas there are people who came to dream and others to laugh and cry … Thus, the platform of the station is the life of this place of mine. It is life in itself.»

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Berlin vs. Florence: comparisons game

Berlin vs. Florence: comparisons game

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As I arrived in Berlin, I remember being fascinated by its wide sidewalks, streets and avenues. I sense the opposite in Florence, where a car hardly fits in its streets and maximum two people can meet on the sidewalks. In Berlin, I might just longed for distance. Now I search for proximity. Closeness. They say that Berlin is a cosmopolitan city, but in Florence I hear everyday languages that I could never identify. Florence windows are not double-glazed. Not so isolated like those in Berlin. I get up sometimes at night to check that mine are not open …The city enters my room as if I really lived in the street. And I do not care, because I know all of these little bits, together, are called life.

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Martina Castagnoli´s Florence

Martina Castagnoli´s Florence

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Se mi chiedi qual’è la mia città, infondo penso che forse è la cristallizzazione della mia idea di Firenze e non so neanche se davvero esiste più, ma vi ci porto lo stesso … Magari riuscirete anche voi a vedere un po’ di quell’incanto con cui la guardo io. La mia città, quando la vedi dall’alto, riesci a cingerla tutta in un abbraccio e i tetti rossi le conferiscono quell’aria rassicurante come lo sono certi oggetti del passato, che ti riportano alla tua infanzia, che quasi ti sembra di sentirne l’odore di naftalina che avevano i cassetti delle nonne.…

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Villa Puccini in Torre del Lago: where Giacomo Puccini still feels alive

Villa Puccini in Torre del Lago: where Giacomo Puccini still feels alive

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Torre del Lago (Viareggio, province of Lucca) is known for being the gay mecca in the Tuscan coast, but most especially for Giacomo Puccini ́s villa. Attracted by its peaceful surroundings, such as the Lake di Massaciuccoli nearby, the composer bought it in 1898 and lived there until his death in 1924. The simplicity of the two-storey building is offset by inner eclecticism, with highlights as his piano room and the chapel where the master, his wife, son and daughter-in-law are buried. It is great to know that tragic characters such as Floria Tosca, Mimì or Madama Butterfly were given birth within these walls. The house-museum was inaugurated in 2012 and is managed by her granddaughter Simonetta Puccini. Since 1930, the Puccini Festival is celebrated near the lake in summer, with works of the composer represented in an outdoor stage.
Practical info

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Le Giubbe Rosse, the quintessential literary café in Florence

Le Giubbe Rosse, the quintessential literary café in Florence

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I feel a deep sadness every time I pass by the piazza della Repubblica; the modern and air-conditioned buildings and its terraces do not allow the contemplation of at least four classic splendorous cafes in the city: Le Giubbe Rosse, Gilli, Donnini, and Paszkowski. It is almost a total eclipse; there is no room for bias. As a general rule, the tourists are the ones using most of the modern facilities in town. Based on my regular visits to the premises of Le Giubbe Rosse, on the «outside» old terrace and in the interior you will always see mature local Florentines taking Amaro, Negroni or simply a cup of coffee. It touches me deeply that there are still some genuine places in this city. A city that increasingly chooses to please tourists instead of respecting its legitimate and long-standing culture.…

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Brands made in Florence #2: Madova Glove Factory, the best gloves in town

Brands made in Florence #2: Madova Glove Factory, the best gloves in town

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The Donnini family has been producing high-quality hand made gloves since 1919, although their store opened in 1954. Stablished in via Guiccirdini 1R, next to their factory, both located near the Ponte Vecchio, Madova frequent clients are usually Korean, Japanese, American and Italian. The most notorious tiny glove shop in town is carefully designed, with its numerous shelves and drawers, where the gloves are conscientiously packaged and stored, classified by their shapes, sizes, and colors and available for both, men and women. Gloves made with first-class deerskin, lamb, or napa leather, and lined with silk, wool, or cashmere. Being all of them designed and manufactured in-house, some models are simple whilst others are perfect for sophisticated outfits.…

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Gardens of Florence #2: Walking through lemon trees and turtles in giardino Corsini al Prato

Gardens of Florence #2: Walking through lemon trees and turtles in giardino Corsini al Prato

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The unexpected Florence is found in Porta al Prato, a surprise standing among the noise of the tram and the traffic, in Via della Scala. Here lies the garden-oasis at the back of Palazzo Corsini al Prato, an impressive but decadent building from 1590. Its garden is home to about 180 citrus trees (mostly lemon trees), as well as wisteria, lecithins, roses, tulips and peonies. Additionally, a hundred turtles roam freely around the land. This site is preserved from mass tourism and offers an unprecedented experience. Also, the garden hosts every May the exhibition of craftsmen of the palace.
(Via il Prato, 58 – EUR10 admission)…

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Carla Macis´ Florence

Carla Macis´ Florence

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Ho due città: una del cuore e una dell’anima. Cagliari è la mia città del cuore, mentre Firenze è quella dell’anima. A Firenze vivo da quando avevo 19 anni, ma non pensavo che mi sarei trattenuta a viverci, ma è successo. Piano piano «ci siamo scelte» ed è diventata l’unica città dove avrei potuto vivere per poter fare il mio lavoro, che mi consente di avere tante relazioni e un buon «know how». Mi piace la sua dimensione internazionale, ma anche la piccola dimensione e l’incanto che provo ogni volta che ancora dopo 33 anni riesce a suscitarmi.…

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Gardens of Florence #6: giardino dell´Iris

Gardens of Florence #6: giardino dell´Iris

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Each year Florence is ready to witness the flowering of the iris in the giardino dell´Iris. It is located in piazzale Michelangelo and was founded in 1954 with the aim of organizing an annual international contest to reward the best varieties of iris. Florence is considered the natural home of the iris because of the bond that this flower always had with the history of the city. The emblem of Florence is a red iris in a white field, and not a lily, as is mistakenly believed. The site offers panoramic views of the city thanks to a surface of approximately two and a half hectares on the hill of an olive grove. It is divided by paths and stone paths, flowerbeds and stairs. Here one can see the variants of the iris: intermediate and dwarf bearded, Japanese, Sibiric, Louisiana … In addition to guided tours in Italian and English, watercolor painting courses are also offered.
Monday through Friday from 10a.m. to 1p.m. and from 3p.m. to 7:30p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from 10a.m. to 7:30p.m. Last admission, half an hour before closing time. Free entrance…

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Florence Cocktail Week 2019, fancy a drink?

Florence Cocktail Week 2019, fancy a drink?

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Following the success of previous editions, Florence Cocktail Week 2019 is back in May for a week dedicated to custom cocktails. The event, which runs from May 6 to 12, is promoted by Paola Mencarelli and Lorenzo Nigro and will feature masterclasses, roundtables, and tasting sessions at 30 cocktail lounges around town with notable bartenders such as Santa Rosa Bistrot, Mad: Souls & Spirits, Winter Garden Bar, La Menagère, and Rasputin.

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