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 on a daily basis, too.

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Fra Angelico’s frescoes: the treasure of the San Marco Museum

Fra Angelico’s frescoes: the treasure of the San Marco Museum

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This museum occupies an extensive area of the Dominican monastery of San Marco and still retains its original atmosphere. Founded in 1436 and designed by the architect Michelozzo, the monastery played an important role in the religious and cultural life of Florence. The fame of the museum is mainly due to the paintings of Beato Angelico (Blessed angelic one), one of the most representative painters of the Renaissance who embellished with its frescoes various rooms of the building, most remarkably the cells of the monks. A wonder to view also here:
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Casa Guidi, poet Elizabeth Barrett´s home in Florence

Casa Guidi, poet Elizabeth Barrett´s home in Florence

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Visiting a house-museum always embraces a closer emotional approach to the artist who lived there than just simply observe the works displayed in the neutral and dehumanized rooms of a museum. Casa Guidi was the Florentine residence of poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning for the most part of their married life. Located in the heart of Florence, the apartment has elegant main chambers with an 18th century decoration style and essentially maintains the same furniture that in the Brownings´ age. They resided here for fourteen years, between 1847 and 1861, and these interiors served as inspiration for some of their greatest poems, like Casa Guidi Windows (Elizabeth Barrett, 1851), inspired by her struggle for freedom.…

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7 best and most distinguished libraries in Florence

7 best and most distinguished libraries in Florence

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Following the steps of German photographer Candida Höfer, who exceptionally portrayed the soul of libraries in solitude, same images in Florence reveal the splendour of the Marucelliana Library, born in the middle of the XVIII century after donation by the abbot Francesco Marucelli; the Biblioteca dell’Accademia della Crusca, placed within the Medici villa of Castello, as the largest library of linguistics and history of the Italian language; the Medicea Laurenziana Library designed by Michelangelo (holds its infamous Mannerist staircase) in the cloister of the basilica of San Lorenzo; the National Library of Florence, which also offers a free guided tour in Italian and English on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m.; the Biblioteca Riccardiana, stablished in 1600 and managed today by the Accademia della Crusca, it has also been described as “a unique example of what a patrician library in an aristocratic place (at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi) looked like;” the Biblioteca Moreniana (at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi as well), founded in the 18th century and composed of the collections of Domenico Moreni, and specialized in material on the history of Florence and Tuscany; and the modern library in the Novoli campus of the University of Florence (UniFi).…

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Domes of Florence (not only Brunelleschi’s)

Domes of Florence (not only Brunelleschi’s)

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Filippo Brunelleschi marked a milestone in the history of architecture with the construction of the cupola that crowns the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, a prototype of Renaissance architecture — and key to the development of modern architecture — which also marks the beginning of this celebrated cultural movement in Italy, of which Florence continues to be an undeniable ambassador, in all fields of art, more than five centuries later. Moreover, the capital of Tuscany also treasures other domes worth of mention, such as the Medicean Chapels, the Basilica of San Lorenzo or the imposing synagogue of Florence, among many more of smaller size.

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Cappella Brancacci, the Sistine Chapel of Florence

Cappella Brancacci, the Sistine Chapel of Florence

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Beyond the streets crowded by the omnipresent tourists looking for Florentine gems from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, there are less exploited corners of great historical and artistic richness as the Brancacci Chapel, also known as the “Sistine Chapel of the first Renaissance”. The paintings on the walls are among the most popular and influential frescoes at the time. They are distributed in two horizontal levels along the chapel, which is part of the Carmine church and convent, founded in Florence in the mid-thirteenth century by a group of Carmelite monks from Pisa. Located in Piazza del Carmine (Florence-Oltrarno), the Cappella Brancacci is one of the oldest monumental buildings in Florence. The frescoes illustrating the life of Saint Peter are masterpieces by Masaccio and Masolino, painted between 1425 and 1427, just in the early years of the Florentine Renaissance. Later on, Filippino Lippi was called to complete Masaccio’s chapel decoration, which had been left unfinished due to Masaccio’s death in 1428.

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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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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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