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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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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Il Liberty fiorentino: the Florentine art nouveau

Il Liberty fiorentino: the Florentine art nouveau

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Florence is not only synonymous with the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Its streets hide other equally valuable treasures that no one expects to find, as samples of the Liberty style, the Florentine art nouveau of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is quite a decorative style in wrought iron, with floral and animal motifs, linear and curved forms. The Liberty patterns found opposition, hostility and criticism in Florence, as it was believed that these buildings broke the architectural uniformity of the city.

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Florence Ice Village, ice skating at Fortezza da Basso

Florence Ice Village, ice skating at Fortezza da Basso

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One of the experiences indisputably linked to Christmas is ice-skating. The Florence Ice Village is not the New York Rockefeller Center, but it has its charm. I have never skated over ice, and I do not think I am going to do it on this occasion, but I love to go there and observe the eager faces of people, filled with curiosity and happiness. I love to guess who are the scared ones, the clumsy ones, the agile ones, the vanity ones, and even those who show their expertise — they take it as seriously as if they were in a world championship. All in all, this mixture is just great.…

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F-LIGHT, Firenze Light Festival 2019, colourful light games in Florence

F-LIGHT, Firenze Light Festival 2019, colourful light games in Florence

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Florence has a unique ability to surprise. Until January 6, 2020, the capital of Tuscany hosts the F-light, the yearly festival of lights that animates the Florentine Christmas illuminating more than fifteen monuments and places across the city through light projections, video mapping, artistic installations or complex colourful light games. “Moon Flight” is the motto of the festival and this year pays homage to the 50th anniversary of the arrival of man on the moon. Ponte Vecchio works as a central axis of the festival. Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Basilica di San Lorenzo, Novecento Museum, Piazza Santo Spirito, gates and towers of the city are also the scenarios of this event that also includes cultural and educative encounters.

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Christmas in Florence, between dreamers and depressed people

Christmas in Florence, between dreamers and depressed people

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In Florence, a city that adores art as a religion and consumerism as an art, Christmas here, as in any other part of the world, is full of dreamers and depressed people. The majority of them have unattainable and hideous expectations about Christmas. While some strive to manifest an insurmountable aversion to all the commonplaces outlined in these days, for others, there is nothing comparable to the emotion and profound joy that Christmas time brings. For better or worse, Christmas produces a significant disruption in the spirit of almost everyone. Christmas decorates us and not the other way round. A golden ornament here and some coloured lights there and voilà: we are happy and feel terrific. We complain heavily about Christmas and the feigned happiness of all its acts without noticing that this superficiality and cult for appearance is what we do daily too.

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Vertical beauty: towers of Florence

Vertical beauty: towers of Florence

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The ‘skyscrapers’ of the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, high constructions became a form of power for the aristocracy. The feudal nobles and their vanity competed among themselves building ‘skyscrapers’ to demonstrate their authority and wealth – as if they were contemporary multinationals companies. Although the Tuscan Manhattan of the Middle Ages is undoubtedly San Gimignano, Florence is not far behind. This city of modest dimensions has currently 70 fortress-houses which could have had a defensive purpose apart from taking advantage of the housing space once the internal wars ceased.…

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A Florentine flâneur: the art of wandering the streets of Florence

A Florentine flâneur: the art of wandering the streets of Florence

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The figure of the flâneur is associated with the rise of “urban life” and especially with Paris, one of the first major cities of the industrial era in which appeared the flâneur as the person who wanders through boulevards, shop windows, and passages. This wandering character was conceived by authors Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin, who defined the authentic flâneur as an attentive and wise voyeur, and far from being a frivolous, banal, idle, superficial and clueless passer-by, he is above all a deep observer of the city, a restless traveler with no definite direction, and a forerunner (without a camera) of the documentary photography.…

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Glamour and garbage disposal in Florence

Glamour and garbage disposal in Florence

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I think to myself quite a lot of nonsense every time I throw the garbage in Florence. Depending on where one resides, garbage disposal in Florence requires a walk of 200 or 300 meters to the nearest container. In other cities you can do so in pyjamas or in slippers, with tousled hair and bleary-eyed, but in Florence certain composure and sophistication is needed. You never know whom you could meet on such particularly long journey ……

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Gardens of Florence #5: il giardino di Santa Maria Novella, flowers and fruits of Florentine tradition

Gardens of Florence #5: il giardino di Santa Maria Novella, flowers and fruits of Florentine tradition

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The garden of the prestigious perfume brand Santa Maria Novella is located in Firenze-Castello, close to the Medician villa of La Petraia. In this 161,458 ft² paradise still operates the ancient tradition of harvesting the hortus conclusus, just as the Dominican friars used to do in the monastery as of thirteenth century. In the garden and orchard of Santa Maria Novella grow all extracts and essences needed for the elaboration of the perfumes and other products of the legendary brand. The aroma of plants, trees and shrubs; the butterflies and lizards; the Tuscan sun; the Duomo of Florence in the distance … A perfect anti-stress frame prone to relaxation in a pure natural state. (Un)fortunately, it is not open to the public, so better ask for an appointment. (visiteofficina@smnovella.com).
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