Santa Croce Weihnachtsmarkt, the international Christmas market of Florence

Santa Croce Weihnachtsmarkt, the international Christmas market of Florence

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The biggest and most important Florence Christmas market is German instead of Italian; maybe because the snow and the myth of Santa Klaus coming from the North, the Florentines adopted this tradition in a very organic way. But, why is not there an Italian Christmas market in Florence? This market reflects mostly the North European character, with handcrafted and gastronomic products coming mostly from Germany but also from France, Poland, The Netherlands and the Czech Republic. Italy by itself possesses a powerful cultural, gastronomic and craftsmanship richness to have its own Italian Christmas market here in the Tuscan capital, however, the whole market is formed by around fifty cabins where the visitant can drink Glühwein (hot wine) and German beer or taste Bratwürste and Lebkuchen (German sausages and biscuits). The ambient is somehow sad and desperate, a completely dispensable experience!
Until December 20 in Santa Croce Square

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Studio Musivo Lastrucci: masters of the Florentine mosaic, the art of “painting with stones”

Studio Musivo Lastrucci: masters of the Florentine mosaic, the art of “painting with stones”

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The artistic discipline named “commesso” or Florentine mosaic made with semiprecious stones emerged in Florence in the 16th century. As could be expected, the Medici family was a great promoter of this new artistic manifestation. Using the traditional technique of the Romanesque mosaic, the “commesso” added interspersed gemstones with highly aesthetic results, very similar to those of a real painting. Each mosaic is handmade in the laboratory following the traditional method, which allows to maintain the authenticity of the technique and enhance the natural colour of each stone. To complete a surface equivalent to a DIN A3 size, three or four years of craft work are needed. …

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Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella: the perfume made in Florence

Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella: the perfume made in Florence

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In this mythical perfumery of Florence with four centuries of history, one senses that nothing wrong could ever happen. Moreover, a walk through its premises makes you feel as weighty as Catherine de’ Medici, queen of France as well as customer of a brand that today still sells the same scent created only for her: Acqua della Regina. Francesco Carlino, responsible for the establishment, gently shows and explains to me every corner and detail of the site, such as the original store overlooking the cloister of the Santa Maria Novella basilica, which today houses the herbal section of the business; the apprentice rooms on the first floor, where future employees of the firm are trained; the old office of the friar, with a strategic window porthole from where he used to control all activity in the store; the machinery used to manufacture perfumes, elixirs, air fresheners, hygiene and toilet articles; the old chapel with frescoes from Giotto’s school; or the church, today transformed into the main room of the store. The original site was a pharmacy founded by the Dominican monks in 1221. Given its success, it opened to the public in 1612 as perfume manufacturer, thus becoming the oldest in Europe today. In the second half of the nineteenth century, it passed into the hands of the state, which ceded its management to the nephew of the last friar director. This family has since then controlled the empire.
Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Via della Scala 16

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The magical world of Gucci Garden in Florence

The magical world of Gucci Garden in Florence

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After thorough renovation, Gucci has reopened its Florence museum located in Palazzo della Mercanzia. Its three floors and different rooms have been converted into a multi-space where you can eat, shop and join the Gucci constellation. Past and present merge within a fusion of animals, plants and flowers appearing as cheerful as the intense patterns of Gucci´s traditional garments. The two floors of the Galleria honour the trajectory and legacy of the brand by exhibiting mythical clothes and accessories, works of art and video projections. On the ground floor, there is the Gucci Osteria by Massimo Bottura, cook chef granted with three Michelin stars. Next to the restaurant we find the Boutique, divided into two large spaces with renewed antique furniture and displaying an explosion of colour. It is also possible to buy exclusive clothing, accessories and gift items created by the brand for the Gucci Garden. In addition, they have dedicated a section to the books and magazines serving as an inspiration to Alessandro Michele, creative director of the firm.
Gucci Garden, piazza della Signoria 10, Florence

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La Via del Tè: it’s tea time in Florence!

La Via del Tè: it’s tea time in Florence!

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During my daily walks around Oltrarno, I had always noticed this tearoom in Via Santo Spirito. It is undoubtedly the typical place that catches your attention and makes you stop until the curiosity is satisfied. La Via del Tè (The Way of Tea) was founded in 1961 by Alfredo Carrai who, fascinated by the world of tea, took the personal challenge of introducing the tea culture in Italy, by then almost unknown. La Via del Tè conceptual stores sell more than 250 products, including whole-leaf tea from China, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Japan and Africa; scented blends; fruit infusions; herbal teas and all La Via del Tè own brand products: from classic cans, single-dose filters in transparent cloth or cotton muslin, to gift boxes, along with a selection of teapots, cups and accessories brought to the stores from all over the world. La Via del Tè has two other branches in Florence: one in Piazza Ghiberti and the other in Via della Condotta. They not only serve tea in its exquisite rooms, but also sell teapots, ad hoc utensils and homemade pastries.
La Via del Tè – Via di Santo Spirito 11, 50125 Florence

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On the Road: a Florentine travel bookstore with added-value

On the Road: a Florentine travel bookstore with added-value

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On the Road is not only the title of the Beat Generation best-known novel. It is also a charming bookshop in Florence specialized in travel, the only one of its kind in the city. Opened in 2012, in this bookshop, the continents are classified by colors. “For me, Africa is red and not black – the color that anyone would associate with this continent,” says Martina. Martina owns the business. A bellissima donna italiana, kind, graceful, and refined who is, in fact, a simple woman bursting with life and sweetness. She is a great expert in travel literature and, no need to say, she is passionate about her job. But being a bookseller not only implies selling books: “It is exhausting.” There are many tasks hinter den Kulissen: select books, stay tuned for editorial novelties, accounting, expert advice, and affection. In addition to all these duties, Martina has time to organize book presentations with authors or workshops on photography and travel literature. On the Road not only sells guides but also novels focused on travels, maps, books on hiking and cycling routes, travel literature for children and last but not least, it gives priceless personalized attention.
On the Road – Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 32 A/R – 50134 Florence

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Donnini Cutlery or the survival of ancient crafts in Florence

Donnini Cutlery or the survival of ancient crafts in Florence

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I love the combination right in the middle of Florence of modern shops and old handicraft ones with its tradition living through generations. Such trades grant the city vestiges of its medieval past as well as an air of genuine timelessness. For instance, Florentine artisan Leonardo Donnini´s masters sharpening: from knives to professional scissors or devices used to cut leather, which serve also as tools for other artisan colleagues in Florence. “I began working with my father in 1992, when I was still a teenager. Our bottega, shop and laboratory opened in 1930, and was in Via Gioberti. Since then, I have totally inherited my father’s trade, I have become one of the 11 Mastro Arrotini of Italy and I moved the store, Donnini Coltelleria, to Via G. Lanza 70. It is a pleasure for me to show my work and I would love to share my old craft with your readers.” The knife from the movie Hannibal was indeed manufactured in his shop.
Donnini Coltelleria, Via G. Lanza 70 – 50136 Florence

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Where to buy alcohol in Florence after 9 pm

Where to buy alcohol in Florence after 9 pm

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It truly stands as a nuisance: right in the XXI century, the “Dry Laws” of Florence prohibit the sale of alcohol from nine in the evening in the historic centre or Unesco area. Because of it, the queues in supermarkets at quarter to nine are almost hysterical, with everyone rushing to get a little bottle of something … I’m one of them! Besides, the control is increasingly tougher, so it requires persuasive caution in mini markets. For instance, at the supermarket in Piazza di San Lorenzo, alcohol is provided only when going to the charcuterie section. Once there, they force you to put it in a backpack or in an opaque bag. Another option is to buy a bottle of wine “to go” in any restaurant in the city. The price is usually higher, so drinking after 9 pm in Florence has become a sort of luxury, only available to few. Besides, if you are post-adolescent or relatively young looking, don´t even try.

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Central Market of Florence: tradition and modernity in one

Central Market of Florence: tradition and modernity in one

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Following the European trend of remodelling old food markets with new food stalls, the first floor of the central market of San Lorenzo (called Mercato Centrale Firenze, MCF) opened in 2014 to commemorate the 140th anniversary of its iron and glass building, which also houses the traditional market of the city on the ground floor. MCF offers confectionery, fresh fish, fried foods and dressings, fruits and vegetables, meat and salamis, mozzarella di bufala, chocolate, cheeses, ice cream, fresh pasta, wines, lampredotto and sandwiches. With seating for 500 people, MCF revitalized an area, which had been previously half-deserted, by residents departing the city centre. All the dishes prepared in the MCF are made with raw ingredients sold in the same central market. Touristphobics shall abstain.
Open every day from ten in the morning to midnight

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Galleria Frilli, the legendary studio and sculpture gallery of Florence

Galleria Frilli, the legendary studio and sculpture gallery of Florence

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Founded in 1860, the family run Gallery-Studio Frilli quickly achieved international recognition for its marble replicas of classical, Renaissance and neoclassical sculptures. Indeed, walking through its comfortable rooms one feels in a Renaissance theme park. The sculptures seem just about to talk. Conceived with the purpose of decorating ostentatious residences in Europe, America and Asia, Frilli has the largest collection of models derived directly from the original pieces, museums and monuments from the Western world. That is why the works are considered real replicas and not mere copies. The family also created the bronze replicas at Lorenzo Ghiberti´s Gates of Paradise in the baptistery of Florence. Perfect for an LSD trip.
Galleria Frilli -Via dei Fossi, 26, 50123 Florence FI 

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