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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«Capodanno Fiorentino:» Florence on March 25 celebrates the Florentine New Year

«Capodanno Fiorentino:» Florence on March 25 celebrates the Florentine New Year

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Florence on March 25 celebrates the ancient Florentine New Year with some events open to all. On this day, the Catholic Church celebrates the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, in honor of the Virgin, from the Middle Ages up until 1750 this date decreed the beginning of the civil year in Florence.…

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Gardens of Florence #3: giardino Bardini, splendour in the grass

Gardens of Florence #3: giardino Bardini, splendour in the grass

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Florence reaches its climax in early April as wisteria flowers blossom at Giardino Bardini. This historic garden, built with fountains and statues in English and Baroque style, is placed on a steep hill of Oltrarno. Its open green space was made public after restoration in 2007. Best to explore it is — possibly with someone loved — at eight in the morning, when just gardeners are around. Further wonders include the Belvedere, Giardino Boboli or the hike up to Costa San Giorgio and Porta San Giorgio, before pleasantly walking down to Porta San Niccolò along the trace of the old city wall.

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Florence literary walk

Florence literary walk

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Searching for the ideal of beauty in all its artistic manifestations or for an oasis to feel safe from hostility, artists, writers, architects, filmmakers, designers, historians and intellectuals, in general, had historically made of Florence their home. In just one hour, it is possible to discover all the places where some of the most outstanding writers of recent times lived.…

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Società Canottieri of Florence, crossing the Arno river in canoe

Società Canottieri of Florence, crossing the Arno river in canoe

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The Società Canottieri Firenze (Florence Rowing Club) has its headquarters in the terrace just below the Galleria degli Uffizi. Like any other private club, it is only accessible for its privileged members. No need to say that it is the best place with a view to Ponte Vecchio in solitude and in all its magnificence, oblivious to the hectic passage of people a few meters above, fighting for a spot from where taking the obvious Florence selfie.…

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Le buchette del vino: the wine windows of Florence

Le buchette del vino: the wine windows of Florence

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Florence is an inexhaustible source of secret treasures, an immortal city that every day gives us lessons of living history. One only needs to open the eyes and pay attention to little details present in the morphology of the city, those details that provide stimuli to the curious souls for nostalgic history. Located one meter above ground level, on the walls of several historical buildings in the city centre, it is possible to glimpse a tiny hole or the so-called “wine window” (buchetta del vino). This was the name given to the notches opened up on the walls of the noble palaces in the 17th century when, following a commercial crisis in Florence, the authorities granted the owners of the vineyards to supplement their income with the retail sale of wine. Through these holes were sold the famous «fiaschi» of wine, which are the typical glass bottles of Chianti, with a spherical shape, long neck and base covered with braided straw. The price of the wine was lower than in the taverns and often in these «buchette del vino» there were small wine jugs and bread for the poor people.

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Cimitero degli Inglesi in Florence: memento mori

Cimitero degli Inglesi in Florence: memento mori

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We all are born to die, and the awareness of this truth acts as torture for many and as a relief for others. Standing in the centre of the present piazzale Donatello, the English Cemetery (Cimitero degli Inglesi) was laid out in 1828 by the architect Carlo Reishammer, for the Swiss Community, outside the 14th-century walls and the Porta a Pinti (demolished in the later 19th century). When the whole area was rearranged by Giuseppe Poggi, the cemetery stood out as a prominent feature, an ‘island of the dead’ surrounded by traffic. Here are the graves of some 1,409 non-Catholics from sixteen countries, including writers and artists such as the poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and W. S. Landor, the sculptor Hiram Powers and the great scholar G. P. Vieusseux. Arnold Böklin’s famous painting The Island of the Dead was inspired by this cemetery. Among the Swiss, Russians, Americans and British buried here, English-speaking British and Americans are the majority as the Anglophone community in Florence in the nineteenth century was the largest. The cemetery had to be closed in 1877, when the law forbade burials of bodies within city limits.…

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Magical Florence by day & night (photo series)

Magical Florence by day & night (photo series)

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Writing about a fascination incites to living it twice. Florence (and all Italy) transmits a special magnetism to me, either at night or in the daylight. Indeed, I feel the more you visit a site, the more your identity will be linked to it. Choosing a place is never incidental, but caused by a wish, a certain object of desire. I have felt in love with Florence just as I could have with a person, thus looking to make the affair last, and staying here forever. Is it a whim? Certainly, one that´s rooted deep inside of me.

Photoseries also featured by Intoscana.it

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Tabernacles: religious street art in Florence

Tabernacles: religious street art in Florence

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There is no doubt that the tabernacles are a key element of the oldest streets of Florence. More than a religious character, it seems to me that they have quite an exquisite kitsch appearance. The city currently houses around 1200 tabernacles, of different styles and periods — some are true masterpieces. Catholics fought against heresy not only with preaching, but also by placing sacred images on the streets, houses, shops and public buildings which endure today. In Oltrarno there is still a large number of these particular street sanctuaries, available for a worldly prayer at any time of the day or night. The ancient Romans were already devotees of this form of religious architecture, for they built small temples in the streets with sacred images that protected both the house and the travelers.

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Gardens of Florence #10: giardini Villa Fabbricotti and Baden Powell, between decadence and bucolic solitude

Gardens of Florence #10: giardini Villa Fabbricotti and Baden Powell, between decadence and bucolic solitude

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In this less-traveled park, not especially projected to attract tourists, on a Saturday noon you will find a couple of people lying on the benches sunbathing, reading, drinking beer or walking dogs. The fact that it looks semi-abandoned gives it an attractive decadent appearance. Formerly the Fabbricotti villa and the park belonged to the Strozzi family. In 1864 they became the property of Giuseppe Fabbricotti, who commissioned the reconstruction of the villa to Vincenzo Micheli. At present, they belong to the Municipality of Florence. The garden is made up of pines, holm oaks, palm trees, and cypresses. The decoration not coming from nature is eclectic, filled with vats, huge vases, marble and terracotta sculptures, a Pantheon-style chapel and a small tholos built with pietra serena facing a neo-Gothic tower. Just crossing a gate, we find a small garden named Baden Powell – after the founder of the Scout Movement –, which is a perfect spot for children and family. This compact sloping enclosure has ideal recreation areas for picnic, playground, and exercise.
Via Vittorio Emanuele II 64 – 50134 Florence FI

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