Author Gravater

Paco Neumann

Paco Neumann is a journalist, photographer, proofreader, flâneur and perpetual amateur currently living in between Florence, Berlin, Paris and Tenerife. He´s been a regular contributor to fashion, art, trend and lifestyle magazines and worked for news, advertising and communication agencies

Not a home but your home

Not a home but your home

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

I am here a few months per year to please my voracious curiosity, searching meanwhile for some luck. The coexistence of different historic periods gives Florence a certain air of timelessness. Thus, I walk through these foreign streets as if my ancestors had left their trail in establishments and sidewalks; as if this is the home to which one always wishes to return. To my astonishment, I have discovered I feel at home in Florence. I especially sensed it through the intense joy, or rather euphoria, felt at the time of arrival. Also through the sadness, almost depression, lived at the moment of departure. Next comes the longing for the piercing song of the starlings and the tolling of the bells, as opposite to the exhausting sirens of police, ambulances and the squeaking rattle of the Berlin tram.…

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The gates of Florence

The gates of Florence

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

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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The experienced scissors of Matteo

The experienced scissors of Matteo

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

In this barbershop, with its own seventies-style decoration, Matteo has been practicing hairdressing for almost half a century. He sometimes tells about his life and miracles while having your hair cut, some others he may just mutter some words, but Matteo is always affable and helpful. One gets lost in his tribulations and mental trivialities while being encountered with the sharp, clean, metallic sound of his scissors and the Italian music coming out of Radio Margherita in his transistor. With Matteo it is not necessary to worry about how your cut will be, as you are in good and experienced hands. In addition to hairdressing and the service as barbershop (haircut for 15 euros, beard cut for 10 euros), the place offers solarium, manicure, pedicure, facial and body treatments for men and women. Absolutely recommended!
Via dei Neri 26 / r

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Berlin vs. Florence: comparisons game

Berlin vs. Florence: comparisons game

PHOTOS, SPANISH & ITALIAN VERSION BELOW

As I arrived in Berlin, I remember being fascinated by its wide sidewalks, streets and avenues. I sense the opposite in Florence, where a car hardly fits in its streets and maximum two people can meet on the sidewalks. In Berlin, I might just longed for distance. Now I search for proximity. Closeness. They say that Berlin is a cosmopolitan city, but in Florence I hear everyday languages that I could never identify. Florence windows are not double-glazed. Not so isolated like those in Berlin. I get up sometimes at night to check that mine are not open …The city enters my room as if I really lived in the street. And I do not care, because I know all of these little bits, together, are called life.

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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

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

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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Uncommon museums of Florence #2: Stefano Bardini Museum

Uncommon museums of Florence #2: Stefano Bardini Museum

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

Stefano Bardini (1854-1922) was a prominent Italian antiquary who decided to transform his collection into a museum and donate it to the city of Florence. The building, a magnificent palace eclectic in style, where the museum has its headquarters, was acquired and restored by Bardini in 1881, in order to be used for his antiquarian trade activity. The antiquary modified the structure adding new gates and stairs, used medieval and Renaissance stones, chimneys, in addition, he affixed painted coffered ceilings. Bardini transformed the old building — the former church and convent of San Gregorio della Pace — into a wonderful neo-Renaissance villa, where, besides the exhibition halls, there were workshops so that the pieces were restored before selling them.

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A ‘panino’ at La Prosciutteria …?

A ‘panino’ at La Prosciutteria …?

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

«Vero maiale! (Real pork!)» is the motto of this narrow but elongated place where cured hams hang from the ceiling and young and cheerful waiters cater in foreign languages to locals and travellers. La Prosciutteria is located in Via dei Neri 54r, one of the most vibrant streets of the historic centre (between Palazzo Vecchio and Santa Croce), with plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants, ice cream shops and stores. They provide with regional artisan products such as wines, oils and jams, as well as merchandising. Undoubtedly, the best is the Tuscan glass of house wine for only 2.5 euros, which accompanied by a panino with prosciutto, pecorino cheese and olive pâté costs 7 euros. Try to avoid lunch time (1-3pm) as it becomes too packed. In addition to panini they sell cheese and sausage on wood boards. Self-service basis.
More info

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Uncommon Museums of Florence #4: Stibbert Museum

Uncommon Museums of Florence #4: Stibbert Museum

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

Frederick Stibbert was born in Florence in 1838. He was an eccentric antique collector, of most weapons and armours. If he had lived today, any doctor would have diagnosed him Diogenes syndrome. In spite of this, being of good lineage, albeit not being aristocratic, Stibbert prepared some rooms of his house to keep his collection, which would be ended up transforming the house in a real museum. After his death, the collection and the site were donated to the city of Florence, as Maria de’ Medici shortly did before the dynasty became extinct.…

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Giulia Gianfranchi’s Florence

Giulia Gianfranchi’s Florence

PHOTOS, ENGLISH & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

Firenze, Florence, Florenz, antica Florentia castrum romano del 59 a. C … Comunque tu la pronunci, lei evoca da sempre nel mio cuore un senso di libertà e scoperta da quando ero bambina. Appena potevo, scappavo da Milano e venivo qui, nella mia Toscana, a trovare mia zia Marta. Passavo giornate ad osservare compiaciuta i turisti mangiare di gusto, ad ascoltarli in tutti i loro strani linguaggi, gironzolavo per strada col naso all’insu … Infilandomi in ogni vicolo, meglio se più stretto, e nei negozietti di artigiani. Distratta da architetture, sculture, pitture …

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Uncommon Museums of Florence #1: Museum of Masonic Symbology

Uncommon Museums of Florence #1: Museum of Masonic Symbology

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

Opened in March 2012, the Museum of Masonic Symbology was founded by Cristiano Franceschini in Florence as a private initiative with the aim to transmit to the brothers the evolution of different Masonic traditions over time. According to Franceschini, the museum is mostly visited by Brazilians, since there is a large number of Freemasons in that country. Moreover, for the broader secular public, the museum wants to make known the Masonic ideology, philosophy and ethics through the representation of symbols, on which these rituals are based. The collection on display includes ritual objects with etched, embroidered, applied, printed or engraved symbols. The first Italian masonic lodge, known as “The Lodge of the English-people” was created 1731 in Florence. The collection presented here comprehends more than ten thousand objects dated from the end of the eighteenth century and coming from around the world: dresses, aprons, belts, bottles, porcelain, pins, ties, stamps, photos, documents, books, glass slides or magic lanterns are part of the lot.
Museo di Simbologia Massonica – Via dell’Orto 7

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