Gardens of Florence #12: Serre Torrigiani

Gardens of Florence #12: Serre Torrigiani

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It is a real privilege to visit the Torrigiani garden and greenhouse (serre) in Florence. Linked to the Serre Torrigiani greenhouse, Vieri Torrigiani Malaspina has always devotedly taken care of the garden. You can see this is his real passion when he talks about its charms to visitors. «I was born in this garden, and I have spent here and in the countryside all my entire life. I graduated as Agrarian Engineering in Florence, and in the seventies, I expanded the existing small plant nursery to exploit it as a company, besides taking care of the garden for my family and me,» comments Vieri. At the same time, I think to myself, “What a marvellous thing to have grown up here.” Torrigiani is one of the oldest aristocratic families of Florence. The first fashion show linked to the Pitti fashion events took place in this location.

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The gates of Florence

The gates of Florence

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The gates of Florence were part of the city´s old defensive border. Sadly, the wall by the northern side of the Arno River was demolished in the 19th century so to pave the way for the main ring road. However, part of the wall located in Oltrarno, at the south side of the Arno, and other gates remain today: Porta San Gallo, Porta San Niccolò, Porta alla Croce, Porta San Frediano, Porta San Giorgio, Porta San Miniato and Porta al Prato. A stroll on a sunny afternoon from Porta San Giorgio to Porta San Miniato — with the ancient wall on one side and the terrific landscape of the Tuscan countryside on the other — is a must; feels like natural Prozac for the senses. …

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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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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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Monica Magnani’s Florence

Monica Magnani’s Florence

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Se qualcuno mi dice ‘Firenze’ la prima cosa che mi viene in mente è fuggire via. Firenze, a volte, io la guardo e mi sembra diventata un luogo comune, un cliché inventato per far contenti i turisti. Firenze per la nave da crociera è il percorso di due ore, per gli amanti clandestini è la città di un fine-settimana, per le famiglie sono i musei delle vacanze di Pasqua, per le gite scolastiche è il capitolo sul Rinascimento, per gli animi malinconici è lo struggimento della sindrome di Stendhal. Io, da questa Firenze, ho continuamente voglia di scappare e forse mi piace proprio perché, poi, quando sono fuggita via dai luoghi comuni, è così bello aver nostalgia di questa città! Firenze, per chi ha voglia di scappare, ha molte vie di fuga: per alcune ci vuole un mezzo di trasporto, per altre, invece, basta un paio di scarpe comode.

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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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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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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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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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Firenze Winter Park, ice-skating in Florence

Firenze Winter Park, ice-skating in Florence

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One of the experiences indisputably linked to Christmas is ice-skating. The Firenze Winter Park 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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