Florence, in the city of David

Florence, in the city of David

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The soul of David spreads throughout Florence as a ubiquitous and sheltering presence. All the cities have their symbol: the Statue of Liberty, the musicians of Bremen, the Berlin bear, the Eiffel Tower, the cock of Barcelos, the Christ of Corcovado, the Big Ben … The flower of the lily shares with the David the leadership of popularity in the city of the Renaissance.…

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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 with the intention of building the magnificent Pitti Palace, later owned by the Medici family. The landscaping was commissioned by the Medici 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 largest historical parks in Florence. Around the main 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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Uffizi Square of Florence: the sculptures of the Great Tuscans

Uffizi Square of Florence: the sculptures of the Great Tuscans

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The particular design of the Galleria degli Uffizi shapes sort of a square, around which the lodge runs. In the 28 niches that border it, Cosimo I de’ Medici wanted to place sculptures of distinguished Florentines in the field of literature, the military and the government. However, it was not until the nineteenth century, when the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was under the rule of the Lorraines, that the publisher Vincenzo Batelli finally resumed the creation of these statues. Among those illustrious Tuscan characters are Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent, great representatives of the Medici family; also masters of art, such as Giotto, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; great names of literature, such as Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio and Machiavelli; and men of science or adventure like Galileo Galilei and Amerigo Vespucci. Overall, the place is a perfect panorama, especially ideal for a romantic walk at midnight, alone or not.

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Gian Gastone de’ Medici, the last homosexual of the Medici dynasty

Gian Gastone de’ Medici, the last homosexual of the Medici dynasty

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The last sovereign ruler of the Medici dynasty, Gian Gastone (1671-1737), Grandson of Ferdinando II, reigned fourteen years – from 1723 to 1737. He was a lonely pubescent man who spent most of his time isolated in the Boboli Garden, concentrated in his studies on flowers and plants and his collection of dainty, delicate objects and things. It is said that because of his homosexuality, he was affected with a deep melancholy. He was the second in the hereditary line since the first soon of the Grand Duke was Ferdinando. When Ferdinando died without heirs in 1713, Gian Gastone inherited the throne. In 1697 and for alliances and dynasties reasons, Gian Gastone was forced to marry a German-Bohemian princess, Anna Maria Franziska. The matrimony was a calamity from the beginning due to the lack of comprehension combined with a high degree of repellency and depressed resignedness on part of Gian Gastone. The marriage had no children thus consequently the option of a Medici heir vanished.

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María Muñoz´s Florence

María Muñoz´s Florence

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Trapped time in Florence

I have returned to Florence after almost thirty years. Although I had no corporeal memories of my presence in the different places, I did have visual memories, probably because Florence is one of the most photographed cities on the planet, and is part of the collective memory of many, at least in the West. My studies in art history and the monographs I did about Leonardo, Florentine himself, and Michelangelo, whose artistic life began in the Florence of the Medici, might have help to keep that memory. Apart from the spatial and visual experience, the latter of unquestionable beauty, which, according to Stendhal, even hurts; there is another characteristic that in my opinion, is explicitly Florentine. And I do not mean the public sculptures, nor the symmetrical facades of the churches and palaces, nor the marbles of different tonalities, neither the perspectives of their perfectly cobbled streets.

I’m referring to the ‘trapped time’.

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Christine De Melo´s Florence

Christine De Melo´s Florence

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My Portuguese parents arrived in the US with nothing but the will to succeed. I fell in love with art, history, and architecture at a young age and longed to see the works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, and Botticelli. Being firstborn to poor immigrants meant that I grew up with few prospects—Italy may as well have been the moon.…

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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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The ubiquitous Medici escutcheon in Florence

The ubiquitous Medici escutcheon in Florence

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Contrary to the legend, the surname Medici has nothing to do with medical ancestors in the family, but with their move from the region of Mugello to Florence, back in the thirteen century, abandoning agriculture to devote themselves to financial life. The six red balls on the golden field of the coat of arms are not pills but bezants, a unit of weight from the Byzantine era used by merchants and medieval bankers to count. The mythical escutcheon is easily recognizable in any corner of Florence and when least expected.…

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Medici villas #2: Poggio a Caiano

Medici villas #2: Poggio a Caiano

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The construction of this medicean villa located between Florence, Prato and Pistoia was the whim of Lorenzo the Magnificent, thus he commissioned it to his favourite architect, Giuliano da Sangallo, at the end of the 15th century. A residence for the pure leisureliness of contemplation by the dynastic power, the villa of Poggio a Caiano recovers elements of the classic architecture such as the fronton and Ionic temple at the main facade. Due to the harmony and symmetry of its proportions, as for representing an ideal of life in the outskirts under Humanism, the site is listed World Heritage by the UNESCO since 2013. Walking the Parco all’inglese and the Giardino all’italiana is as stimulating as visiting its interior. Free entrance.
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Medici villas #1: La Petraia

Medici villas #1: La Petraia

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Perched on a hill top of Castello, with a panoramic view of Florence, this astonishing 14th century villa was first owned by the Brunelleschi family and the Strozzi, before being home to Cosimo I de’ Medici and his offsprings. It was also the favourite residence of Vittorio Emanuele II in the company of her lover Rosa Vercellana. Its significance has paved the way for restorations throughout the centuries, thus becoming declared UNESCO World Heritage in 2013 and an asset of the state museums today. Not to miss are the famous lunettes painted by Giusto Utens — each representing a Medici villa and garden —, the sculptures of Giambologna and a wander lost in its gardens. There is a guided tour in Italian every 30 minutes. Free entrance.

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