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IMPORTANT INFORMATION » Our Monthly Newsletter ITA -

Palazzo Pitti

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Rent, Sell and Manage Properties in Florence and Tuscany
NEWSLETTER february 2009

February - February is a month of opposites, with days either damp and gray, or drenched in brilliant winter sunshine. The combination produces sunsets over the Arno that can literally take your breath away. With Christmas over and spring not yet quite visible, February always brings a welcome quiet to the streets of Florence and the backroads of Toscana. Dash into museums without a hint of a line, relax over meals of warming soups and stews, and remember… "Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour." John Boswell

In this issue we give the story on Florence’s most important, and least appreciated benefactor, we let you in a few freebies, celebrate Carnival, football, food and beauty, plus lots of ways to pass the time indoors.

The new office is a joy, and for better or worse our “idle hours” are surprisingly few. Fabulous February greetings from SUZANNE, CORSO, SANDRA, LORI, ANNA PIA, KIMBERLY and MARIO


Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, the last of the Medici dynasty, died the night of February 17th, 1743. Anna Maria Luisa lived her life in the Medici pomp of Florence, except for the period of her marriage to Johann Welhelm, Elector Palatine of Dusseldorf. Returning to the city, her father Cosimo III attempted to verify her as Grand Duchess in case none of the remaining Medici males produced an heir (indeed, with the weakened blood line, no heirs were produced). She was not made Grand Duchess, but nonetheless, she did create the "Patto di Famiglia", a testament signed on October 31, 1737. With this single gesture, she willed all the personal property of the Medici family to the Florentine state, with the explicit condition to any future ruler of Florence, that none of the Medici artistic patrimony was ever to be removed from the city.
Florence, in honor of perhaps its most important benefactor, dedicates February 18th to Anna Maria Luisa as a day of celebration. Starting at 10:40 am, a historical parade will depart from the Piazzetta di Parte Guelfa, and travel to the Medici Chapel to lay a wreath of flowers on her tomb. This year, a book dedicated to Anna Maria Luisa de'Medici will be presented at 5:00 pm in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio.
City hall confirms (as of Feb. 2) that all of the communal museums (see list below) will be open free of charge on February 18th in honor of Anna Maria Luisa, and also... perhaps.... the State Museums (see other list below). It would seem the least they could do!
MUSEI COMUNALI: Palazzo Vecchio - Quartieri monumentali, S. Maria Novella - Museo e Chiostri monumentali, Museo Bardini, Fondazione Romano - Cenacolo di S. Spirito, Museo "Firenze com'era", Galleria Rinaldo Carnielo, Cappella Brancacci.
MUSEI STATALI: Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello, Palazzo Pitti (all Pitti museums), Cappelle Medicee, San Marco, Museo Archeologico, Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto, Palazzo Davanzati, Opificio delle Pietre Dure. www.comune.firenze.it

Speaking of free, with a nod to today’s emptier pockets, here is a short list of cool, FREE things to do in Florence. We live in an amazing area that provides innumerable opportunities to enjoy some of the best the world has to offer… gratisss, as they say here in Toscana.
Take a 20-minute walk linking the Duomo, Piazza Della Signoria and Santa Croce. Act like a tourist, in other words, pretend you are seeing it all for the first time (one of my favorite pastimes). Stroll for the sake of admiring where you are. Look up (imperative) and enjoy the amazing buildings you pass, look for details that your every-day hustle does not allow time to notice. Dusk is a great time to do this. Especially in the winter, when the shops glow with warmth from within.
Read. Discover the Reading rooms in Florence. Thanks to Ann Reavis and her great, online posts, I was reminded of a place I’d been meaning to visit: the Biblioteca delle Oblate on Via dell’Oriuolo 26. Make your way to the top (second) floor and discover a treasure trove of English-language periodicals available free, to everyone. Open Monday to Friday 8:30 to 18:30 and Sat. 8:30 to 1:30. www.bibliotecadelleoblate.it.
Another SUPER reading resource, and place to pass a quiet hour or two, is the Palazzo di Parte Guelfa reading room (enter kitty-corner from the famous Porcellino statue, next to the tripe stand). This room has a long shelf of current mags and newspapers (Time, Newsweek, Publishers Weekly, AD, The New Yorker, etc.) plus back issues. Spread a newspaper out on one of the big library tables, under a magnificently frescoed ceiling, and enjoy some peace and quiet while you catch up on the world’s turmoil. Open Monday to Thursday, 8:30 am to 10:15 pm, Friday 8:30 am to 6:30 pm., Sat. 8:30 to 1:30 pm..
Stroll into Palazzo Vecchio’s Sala d’Arme (enter under Neptune’s back side). Any show they have going is usually interesting… and free.

Starting at 9:00 am, an international cast of characters will parade through downtown Florence to celebrate not only Carnival, but also the mix of nationalities that now make up the Tuscan kaleidoscopic citizenry. From Piazza Ognissanti, a multicolored, multiethnic snake of music, dance and joy will make its way to Piazza Signoria, where each community will show off their best costumes and traditions in a short program. Mexico, the Ivory Coast, Denmark, Sri Lanka, Finland, Poland, Peru are just a few of the 26 nationalities that will be present.

Well, a new day has officially dawned. I take this opportunity, again, to thank the many volunteers, organizations and voters who helped create this change. Only, as President Obama (I love writing that!) reminded us in his inaugural address, it doesn't stop here...
I'm asking a favor - it'll only take an hour: come vote in the chapter elections at the DA Florence meeting on Saturday, February 21, 11-12:30; 12 Via Leopardi (Cal State). Want to run for Chair, Treasurer or Secretary? Let me know by February 15, stating briefly why you're interested, & I'll circulate the candidate info beforehand. We must have a minimum of 30 members present for it to be a valid election. Will you come, please, oh please, oh please? We need you! So far, the candidates are:
Chair: Cathleen Compton: current Chapter Treasurer & National Treasurer; an architect of Democrats Abroad Florence
Secretary: Cassandra Schaffer: key financial DA-F donor & networker; former Secretary
Treasurer: Nina Peci: stalwart DA-F contributor with her skills, contacts & time
On another note, all residents of Florence, even if not an Italian citizen, older than 16 years of age are eligible to vote in the February 15 mayoral primary. You must show a valid ID at the poll & pay one euro (to cover organizational costs). Find out where to vote: www.primariepdfi.it. The candidates, in alphabetical order, are: Eros Cruccolini, Daniella Lastri, Lapo Pistelli, Matteo Renzi, Michele Ventura.
Really hoping to see you at the February 21 chapter meeting!
Jo-Ann White
National Vice Chair, Florence Chapter Chair
Democrats Abroad Italy, www.DemocratsAbroad.org, tel. 335-604-8493, joann.white@virgilio.it

Florence International Theatre Company invites us to explore the question of violence against women and girls - both locally and internationally by joining the worldwide movement "V-Day: Until the Violence Against Women Stops" from March 2-8. FITC is organizing a week of lectures, discussions, poetry readings, articles, performances, exhibits, to open this topic for discussion. Events will be offered by partner institutions, organizations and individuals, concluding with 2 performances of "The Vagina Monologues." Profits from this event support the work of a local organization working with victims of violence and their children. For details, write info@florencetheatre.com.

FOOTBAAAALLL!! by Simon Clark and Anne Brooks
Forza Viola!.....”Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold” as Mr. Yeats once wrote. January has been, if not a crisis building, certainly a burden accumulating as Fiorentina lost three straight games for the first time under Cesare Prandelli. We’re not playing badly – quite the contrary – but we keep having to play against twelve men. A tide of unhappiness about the quality of refereeing is swelling across Serie A and the Viola are very much in the vanguard with the Della Valle brothers waving and shouting; it’s not simply that we are being persecuted but decisions do seem to go in favour of the established Big Four (the two Milan clubs, Juve and Roma). On top of all that, Prandelli & Co are taking another look at building the team…..
Serie A. The first league game of 2009 was meant to be an easy three points against lowly Lecce. Little did we know that Lecce had decided to fight their way out of the relegation zone with such resolve that they bloodied Fiorentina’s nose with our first home defeat of the season. We let them get in front but when, after 24 minutes, Melo headed in the equalizer, we sat back and waited for several more…..only for Lecce to spring the offside trap a second time to go 2-1 up. After that, we just couldn’t get the ball in the net; Osvaldo got himself sent off; Mutu damaged his elbow and put himself out of action for a month……Not the ideal preparation for three tough games.
Week 19, mid-way through the season, we are at the San Siro to deal with Milan. The only goal of the game came on 7 minutes, our defence flat-footed by a series of ricochets before Pato steered a precise shot wide of Storari (deputizing very well for the injured Frey). We gave them a real run for the points and had them on the ropes for long stretches – but we couldn’t manage a goal. Conspiracy theorists will note the penalty awarded to us in the fourth minute and then taken away! The following week, successive defeats became three in a row as we lost again by 1-0 away from home, this time to Juventus. This really was an unfair result; both teams played well for the win while Buffon and Frey treated us to a goalkeeping masterclass – these two are undoubtedly the best pair in Italy, quite probably in the world. No-one can take away from the quality of Juve’s goal, conjured by a magical pass from del Piero. We didn’t get a point because of Buffon’s reflexes, because of the crossbar (when a Santana header did beat Buffon), because the referee denied us a penalty (admittedly, with some justification; it was a 50-50 decision) and because when Gilardino did score it was – incorrectly and incompetently – ruled offside. Florence exploded; our President, Andrea Della Valle, was virtually frothing at the mouth on Sky late that evening. But we still collected no points!
Fortunately, we did the business when Napoli visited the Stadio at the end of the month. Half their team had been struck down with flu, half of our first-choice were lying on the treatment table. The survivors served up a 2-1 victory that sounds closer than it should have been. We trampled all over them in the first half without making a breakthrough. Two minutes into the second half and Santana scored his first Serie A goal of the season. Immediately, however, the great Frey experienced a moment of madness in which he appeared to shepherd a gentle cross into his own net (though he made up for that with another blinding last-minute save). With ten minutes to go, Riccardo Montolivo – fast becoming the mainspring of the Viola midfield – scored an excellent winner.
Serie A has not seen as much shopping as usual during the transfer window; doubtless the global financial crisis affects even football clubs – although the big story has been that even an offer of $140mn wasn’t enough to persuade Kaka to leave Milan for the delights of Manchester City. Prandelli and Corvino have clearly been giving further thought to the longer-term construction of a team able to win the Scudetto and have taken some tough decisions of their own. Up-and-coming Pazzini (Sampdoria) and Osvaldo (Bologna) have been freed to play more than a 15-20 minute substitution role while it looks like Papa Waigo is off to Lecce. One or two others may be weeded out as Fiorentina create the funds to bring people in. The word is that Ivanovic will join us from Chelsea at the end of the season, further strengthening an already-robust defence (we have the league’s third-best defence at the half-way point) and freeing the likes of Montolivo and Kuzmanovic to press forward and increase their strike rates.
Our January points haul is meager but Someone Up There is watching out for us and other results have helped us stay in sixth position within the pack chasing the three European places behind the inevitable-looking Inter, Juve and Milan. For February, we must do better! If we are to hold our heads up, we must win away at Bologna and Genoa and at home to Chievo; we beat all of them earlier in the season and, in particular, we want to beat Genoa as they are two points ahead of us. We could do with a good result against Lazio, who seem unable to make up their mind if they are going to mount a real challenge or not but who did give us an embarrassing football lesson back at the start of the season. Eight points is the minimum we expect from that lot; all twelve points would warm Florence for March. The icing on the cake will be the resumption of European football as we play home and away against the legendary Ajax, riding ominously high in the Dutch league. The Netherlanders can just remember how we took apart PSV Eindhoven least year! Forza Viola!
Week 22: 1 February: Bologna-Fiorentina
Week 23 (Florence): 8 February: Fiorentina-Lazio
Week 24: 15 February: Genoa-Fiorentina
UEFA Cup (Florence): 19 February: Fiorentina-Ajax
Week 25 (Florence): 22 February: Fiorentina-Chievo
UEFA Cup: 26 February: Ajax-Fiorentina
Ticket information is available from the “biglietteria” section of the club’s website [www.acffiorentina.it]. There is a plan of the stadium seating areas, prices and a list of ticket outlets in Florence, including:
CHIOSCO DEGLI SPORTIVI, via degli Anselmi (between the Pzza Repubblica post office and the Odeon cinema). Tel 055 292363.
BAR MARISA, via Carnesecchi 1. Tel 055 572723.
BAR STADIO, viale Manfredo Fanti 3r. Tel 055 576169.
ASS. SPORTIVA COLLETTIVO AUTONOMO VIOLA 1978, via Lungo l’Affrico 10r. Tel 055 672580.
BAR H9, via dell‘Ariento (south side of the central market).
ACF OFFICIAL TICKET-OFFICE, via Dupre 28 (corner of via Settesanti).
NUOVO BOX OFFICE, via Luigi Alamanni 39 (close to SMN station). Tel 055 264321

In the second part of our beauty series, begun a few months back, we would like to focus on Foukis, Dr. Georgios Foukis, that is. When making the beauty rounds to check out various Florentine options, asking friends and clients for tips and advice, we got the most amount of positive feedback about one particular medical center in Florence: SKIN.
For example: Hi Kim. Wish I could show you my Boobs!! Had a preventative double Mastectomy about 10 years ago with reconstruction. Dr. Foukis is particularly good at breasts by the way. I could go topless on a beach. Ok, I promise I won't!!! He gave me a new type collagen injection on my chin but I have not tried anything else. Would love to see if he has some fat melting device for stomachs. Kim, it's a great idea. I have had friends go to Argentina because of price and not being at home. Foukis is the nicest guy. If you need any info from me just ask. Ciao, Liz
Other quotes: “Dr. Foukis is great, even to a person who doesn’t “do that”, for the non-savvy person who is approaching this type of work for the first time. He doesn’t try to sell you on anything. I found him trustworthy and honest.” “Dr. Foukis does the best Botox I’ve ever had, and I speak from experience…”
We got in touch with the staff at Skin, asking specifically what treatments would fit nicely into a vacation visit to Florence (our dream is to host a bunch of friends in a historical center apartment, with a week of treatments scheduled between shopping, museums and great meals around town). Dr. Foukis replied: “the best treatments that will give excellent results within a week would be the fillers and Botox for wrinkles, biorevitalization (vitamins) for skin rejuvenation, plus radiofrequency (skin tightening for face and body) and teeth whitening. The detoxifying treatment and massages can also be a wonderful treat for the week...”
We asked for more details and received a few short explanations: Botox (for those who don’t know) is a nonsurgical, physician-administered treatment for wrinkles that works by reducing the muscle contractions that cause the lines to form over time. Fillers act when skin starts to sag and wrinkle naturally with age, as underlying fat and collagen diminishes. Injecting dermal fillers into the skin plumps it up, makes it firmer, smoothing lines and wrinkles. Dermal Fillers can also plump hollow cheeks, reshape the chin or nose tip, fill acne scars, plump lips for fullness, as well as turning unwanted "frowns" into smiles, asymmetry can also be corrected. Facial biorevitalization uses vitamins and hyaluronic acid, with multiple intra-dermal injections of very small quantities of a nutritive and revitalizing complex along wrinkle lines in "nappage" over the face, neck, scoop neck and also back of the hands.
Photo rejuvenation is a non-invasive treatment that erases skin damage without disrupting the skin's surface. It can be used to rejuvenate the skin by activating the fibroblasts to produce more collagen and elastin, leaving the skin firmer and smoother. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Phototherapy can simultaneously treat broken capillaries and vessels, skin discoloration, age spots, freckles, enlarged pores, facial flushing and redness, and roughly textured skin and acne. The clinic also offers permanent makeup, and laser teeth whitening with results you should see after a single treatment. The Detoxification Treatments (1.5 hours) help improve cellulite, using camphor essential oils, with a detoxifying body wrap, exfoliation with a blend of sea salt and essential oils, followed by anticellulite crème, then sea clay, restoring the nutrients and minerals your skin needs, a refreshing shower, and ending with a lymph drainage massage.
At SKIN you can also arrange consultations and appointments regarding vascular surgery, breast and aesthetic surgery, homeopathy and pain therapy, cosmetic dentistry and nutrition. Skin Spa. Borgo San Jacopo 64/r . Tel. 055.2741503. www.skinaestheticlinic.com. Email: info@skinaestheticlinic.

THUMBS UP – THUMBS DOWN “Our Readers Right”
Our “Thumbs up, Thumbs down” column is your chance to write us and share your own ideas and information, or to toot the horn of businesses, events and those Florentine situations that strike you as either wonderful or terrible. Please note: all opinions are (usually) strictly those of our readers. Lend us your thoughts!

Dear Pitcher & Flaccomio,
I am a new subscriber to your newsletter and have dreams of buying some day in Florence. I was a student in Florence in the mid-1970s on a semester abroad program but stayed for a year. Have been coming back almost every year since and married a wonderful man from Prato fifteen years ago who unfortunately passed away six years ago. I also now hold my Italian citizenship (dual).
I just returned from the Christmas holidays in Florence/Prato and am very please to get your email. It was also a pleasant surprise to see your association with Mario Spezi as I brought THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE for my holiday reading and enjoyed it thoroughly. My husband used to tell me stories about Il Mostro, so it was great fun reading the details behind the events. One of his friends who I saw over the holidays, Sandro Vichi (aka Aquila, the DJ and brother of Marco Vichi) told me that he knows Spezi and was going to arrange an introduction next time I'm in town. He also said that he and Alberto knew the two French victims who were apparently part of their group that hung out together..
Congratulations on becoming an "official" newsletter of Florence! I'm sorry I didn't know about you sooner. I look forward to future issues.
Elyse Eisenberg
West Hollywood, CA

Dear Elyse,
Many thanks for writing. Please don’t hesitate to come by the office just to say hello. We look forward to meeting you on your next trip back to Florence.
All our best,
The Gang at P & F

P.S. For more information about Mario Spezi, see the recently published site regarding his book www.monsterofflorence.co.uk. Online, Mario’s co-author Douglas Preston says: “Nestling in the lush, rolling hills of Tuscany, with the Arno river and Ponte Vecchio at its centre, Florence is an idyllic city. Yet within all this beauty, Florence has a violent past, from public executions to bloody wars. Forming part of this shocking violence is the story of the Monster of Florence. Between 1974 and 1985, seven couples – fourteen people in all – were murdered while making love in parked cars in the beautiful hills surrounding Florence. The case became the longest and most expensive criminal investigation in Italian history. Close to a hundred thousand men were investigated and more than a dozen arrested, many of whom had to be released when the Monster struck again. Scores of lives were ruined by rumour and false accusations.
The generation of Florentines who came of age during the killings say that it changed the city and their lives. There have been suicides, exhumations, alleged poisonings, body parts sent by post, séances in graveyards, lawsuits, planting of false evidence, and vicious prosecutorial vendettas. The investigation has been like a malignancy, spreading backward in time and outward in space, metastasizing to different cities and swelling into new investigations, with new judges, police, and prosecutors, more suspects, more arrests, and many more lives ruined. Despite the longest manhunt in modern Italian history, the Monster of Florence has never been found and, with the acquittal of the latest suspect in May 2008, the case is still unsolved.
In The Monster of Florence, Mario and I track down and interview a man we have strong reasons to believe may be the Monster himself. At the end of the interview, we asked him, “Are you the Monster of Florence?”

This risotto is traditionally served with Osso Buco, but delicious on its own as well. Saffron cultivation has experienced a renaissance in the area surrounding San Gimignano.

4 Tbs. butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped or sliced
2 ½ cups (1 pound) Arborio, Vialone, or Originario rice
1or 2 pinches saffron
3/4 cup white wine
7-8 cups hot chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano

Gently cook onion in butter until soft and translucent. Add rice and sauté a minute or two, stirring. Add wine and saffron and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add hot broth, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed and risotto is al dente (usually about 15-18 minutes).

Recipe provided by Sahna Wicks of A Tuscan Welcome cooking school and catering (wicks@katamail.com, tel. 055 840-9751).


On Saturday 14 and Sunday 15, the park and gardens of the Fortezza da Basso once again host Florence’s most important, monthly antiques fair. Come browse the more than 100 booths and stands selling antique tables, chairs, armoires, plus frames and paintings and all sorts of bric-a-brac.
Fortezza da Basso gardens. Open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm each day. Phone for further information: tel. 055 2705233.

DANZA IN FIERA: International Trade Show and Dance Event
From Thurs. 19 to Sun. 22 the Fortezza da Basso hosts an international Dance Fair. This year there will be shows of every kind of dance style and discipline including participation by dance companies and groups from abroad. Seven stages with be the base camp for thousand of dancers, guest stars, and for kids an entire pavilion will be animated by Disney Channel to dance on the notes of Camp Rock, High School Musical 3 and Hannah Montana. As each past year, the show features classes with national and international professional teachers of Classical Dance (Bruno Vescovo, Gillian Whittingham, Jean Philippe Halnaut), Modern Jazz (Luca Condello, Bill Goodson, Rossella Brescia), Contemporary Dance (Alex Atzewi, Dino Verga), Hip Hop (Ilenja Rossi, Marco Cavalloro) and more. Italy’s most important dance competition: Expression 2009, will be hosted on two big stages.
Hours: Thursday 3:00pm – 9:00pm, Friday – Saturday 10:00am – 9:00 pm, Sunday 10:00am – 8:00pm. Tickets: 1-day pass - 15 euro, 4-day pass - 25 euro. Children under 8: free. For info: tel. 0574 575053 or email: info@danzainfiera.it

GUERCINO: The School, the Manner, Drawings at the Uffizi
The Prints and Drawings Department of the Uffizi boasts a remarkable collection of over seventy-five drawings by Guercino, most of them on display in the exhibition. Born in Cento in Emilia, Giovan Francesco Barbieri known as Guercino, was one of the most consummate and fertile masters of Italian drawing in the seventeenth century. He worked with a “tasteful ease” that marked an innate talent for graphic expression. Guercino was avidly collected by Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici, who over a quarter of a century, from 1650 to 1675, amassed an unsurpassed collection of antique drawings. The show also provides the opportunity to illustrate the most recent research and the new attributions that go to join those of the better-known drawings, offering the public a complete overview of Barbieri’s importance as a draughtsman. Most of the drawings are figure studies, preparatory designs for compositions spanning the artist’s entire career. However, the Uffizi collection is particularly well-furnished with the earlier graphic works of the artist, executed before his first important Roman sojourn between 1621-1623, which marked a crucial turning-point in Guercino’s artistic training. Displayed alongside the drawings of the master are a similar number of works produced by the artists of his studio, first and foremost by his nephews Benedetto (1633-1715) and Cesare Gennari (1637-1688). Text from exhibit site, for more in depth info: www.polomuseale.firenze.it.
Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, Piazzale degli Uffizi. Ticket: Free. Open: Tuesday to Sunday 8:30 am – 6:30 pm. Closed Mondays.

THE MACCHIAIOLI PAINTERS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: When the Lens Revolutionized the Paintbrush.
The current Alinari National Museum of Photography exhibition, open until Feb. 15, aims to show the relationship between Italy’s Impressionist painting movement of the 19th century and the burgeoning art of photography, as well as celebrating the art of Giovanni Fattori in the centenary of his death. Alongside works by Fattori, are others by Signorini, Boldini, Banti, Gioli and Cabianca. For the first time, the tight relationship between painting and photography is outlined in a five chapter, side-by-side analysis of nearly 200 works (paintings, photographs and more). The dialog between the two arts was magnified by the fact that some exponents of the Macchiaioli movement used photographs as instruments for their work, and others were photographers themselves.
The show runs until February 15. Alinari National Museum of Photography. Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Closed Wednesday. Ticket: 6.00 euro. See www.firenzeperfattori.it for information in addition to the above, www.alinarifondazione.it

From Thursday 19, the Alinari National Museum of Photography hosts works by Carlo Mollino, Italian architect and designer whose skill as a photographer was only rediscovered some years after his death in 1973. Mollino held photography in high esteem, it was a great passion and favorite means of expression. He was a photographer who advocated retouching, as documented in his treatise The Message from the Dark Room. Mollino often painted on his photos or negatives.
Alinari National Museum of Photography. Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Closed Wednesday. Entry: euro 6. www.firenzeperfattori.it, www.alinarifondazione.it

THE MADONNA DEL CARDELLINO: Raphael’s newly restored Madonna of the Goldfinch
Until March 1, Palazzo Medici Riccardi hosts a masterpiece by Raphael Sanzio, the Madonna del Cardellino, painstakingly renovated over the last nine years by Florence’s Opificio delle Pietre Dure. This restoration has brought back the delicate coloring of the painting, created by a young Raphael for his friend Lorenzo Nasi in Florence. Alongside the painting itself are panels describing the stages of the restoration, high definition videos providing a clear, close-up view of it, and four works from the same period illustrating the atmosphere and taste of the time. You will find a portrait, the Gravida, assigned to Raphael during his Florentine sojourn between 1504 and 1508, documenting the other genre (in parallel to the paintings of the Madonna) in which Sanzio engaged during his permanence in Florence. A second portrait, the Monaca, by a Florentine master (here identified as Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, son of the great Domenico and a friend of Raphael), serves to demonstrate the influence the young artist from Urbino had over his colleagues on the banks of the Arno. The third work is a thin wooden panel, once used as a portrait ‘cover’ and decorated with grotesque motifs (in the past, authoritatively attributed to Raphael himself but, instead, probably by Ridolfo), which serves as ulterior proof of the stylistic consonance between Florence and the master. The last work is a glazed terracotta sculpture by Girolamo della Robbia representing the Madonna and Child with the young Saint John the Baptist (1510-1515) that, in its composition, faithfully reproduces the La Belle Jardinière by Raphael today in the Louvre.
The show runs until March 1. Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Via Cavour 3. Hours: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm daily except Wednesday. For reservations or info: tel. 055 2760340. www.palazzo-medici.it

WOMEN IN POWER: CATERINA AND MARIA DE’ MEDICI: The return to Florence of two Queens of France.
On until Feb. 8 at Palazzo Strozzi, this exhibition tells of the power of imagery, and how images of powerful women were used by the two Medici queens of France to legitimize their rule at a time when women in such positions were rare. It brings to Florence fifteen monumental tapestries commissioned by Caterina de’ Medici (1519-89) in the mid-16th century and completed by Maria de’ Medici (1573-1642) which depict Artemisia of Caria, widow of Mausolus, who ruled after his death from 352-350 BC, conquering the island of Rhodes. Further sections of the exhibition expand on the themes depicted by the tapestries as well as studying the character of the two Medici queens, using portraits and works of art loaned from various Florentine museums to illustrate the extraordinary refinement that characterized their lives and their patronage. Several curious pieces include Caterina's Talisman, a letter with one of her drawings, a small canvas that portrays her at an outdoor banquet with her husband Henry IV and a precious jeweler collection with cameos portraying the king.
Until February 8. Palazzo Strozzi. Tel. 055 2645155. Open daily 9 am - 8 pm, and Thursday 9 am - 11 p.m. Tickets: 10.00 euro.

This ongoing show at the newly restored Villa Bardini, features Pietro Annigoni, who died in 1988, leaving a legacy that we can now begin to explore in depth. A selected portion of the 6000 works of art recently donated by the artist’s family will be on show, changing annually to enable his public to eventually view the entire collection. Painting in a Renaissance style, Annigoni’s portraits graced the cover of Time magazine five times during his life. Visit the museum today, to enjoy an introduction to the artist’s works, as this year we will be shown paintings (and lithographs, designs and memorabilia) dating to the beginning of his career.
Villa Bardini, Costa San Giorgio 2 and Via dei Bardi 1r. Museum hours: October 1 through March 31: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. From April 1 through September 30: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Tel. 055-2638599. www.bardinipeyron.it.

Odeon Theatre, Piazza Strozzi 2 (across from Colle Beretto Bar). Phone: 055 214 068.
TUESDAY 3 - Revolutionary Road by Sam Mendes with Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Zoe Kazan, Kathryn Hahn. 4.00 – 6.10 – 8.20 – 10.30 pm
THURSDAY 5 - Vicky Cristina Barcelona by Woody Allen (Italian Subtitles) with Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall, Patricia Clarkson. 4.30 – 6.30 – 8.30 – 10.30 pm
MONDAY 9 – Defiance by Edward Zwick with Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, George MacKay, Mia Wasikowska. 5.00 – 8.00 – 10.30 pm
TUESDAY 10 - Australia by Baz Luhrmann with Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Bruce Spence, Jack Thompson. 5.00 – 9.00 pm
THURSDAY 12 - Frost/Nixon by Ron Howard with Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen, Frank Langella, Patty McCormack. 5.00 – 8.00 – 10.30 pm
MONDAY 16 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by David Fincher (Italian Subtitles) with Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Julia Ormond, Jason Flemyng. 5.00 – 9.00 pm
TUESDAY 17 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by David Fincher. 5.00 – 9.00 pm
THURSDAY 19 - Doubt by John Patrick Shanley with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Lloyd Clay Brown. 4.30 – 6.30 – 8.30 – 10.30 pm
MONDAY 23 - Milk by Gus Van Sant with Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Victor Garber. 5.00 – 8.00 – 10.30 pm
TUESDAY 24 - Wall-E by Andrew Stanton. 4.30 – 6.30 – 8.30 – 10.30 pm
THURSDAY 26 - Rachel Getting Married by Jonathan Demme (Italian subtitles) with Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mather Zickel, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith, Anisa George. 4.00 – 6.10 – 8.20 – 10.30 p.m

Sam Mendes directs Revolutionary Road, the story of a 1950s suburban American couple with aspirations beyond their station, whose path to fulfillment in the Old World is strewn with obstacles (WINNER BEST DRAMATIC ACTRESS GOLDEN GLOBE 2009).
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Woody Allen’s gentle comedy of Americans abroad for a summer holiday with romantic complications (Cannes Film Festival, WINNER BEST FILM COMEDY GOLDEN GLOBE 2009)
Edward Zwick’s Defiance is the true story of an extraordinary collaboration between three Jewish brothers, refugees from Nazi-occupied Poland, and the Russian Resistance in Belarus during World War II, with moving performances from Daniel Craig and Jamie Bell (1 GOLDEN GLOBE 2009 NOMINATION).
Baz Luhrmann’s fourth movie is Australia, a kind of good, old-fashioned, antipodal Gone With the Wind, with Nicole Kidman as émigré English Lady Sarah Ashley and Hugh Jackman as the rugged local Drover. They fall in love and witness the Japanese bombing of Darwin in 1942.
The famous interviews that disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon gave to renowned British journalist David Frost in 1977 are the subject of Ron Howard’s acclaimed Frost/Nixon, expertly revealing the clash of wills and egos (5 GOLDEN GLOBE 2009 NOMINATIONS).
Adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story of a man who ages in reverse, David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has Brad Pitt as Benjamin, born in his eighties and whimsically aging backwards to youth, in a magic realist universe not too distant from Forrest Gump (5 GOLDEN GLOBE 2009 NOMINATIONS).
In Doubt, Meryl Streep is the daunting Sister Aloysius Beauvier on the trail of suspected pedophile priest Father Brendan Flynn at a Catholic school in the Bronx in 1964 (5 GOLDEN GLOBE 2009 NOMINATIONS).
Harvey Milk was the first openly-gay man to be elected to public office in the US, in San Francisco in 1977. Sean Penn plays him in Gus Van Sant’s excellent biopic Milk (1 GOLDEN GLOBE 2009 NOMINATION).
Wall-E is Disney-Pixar's animation masterpiece, a magical, ecological romance that works on many levels and will leave a profound impression (WINNER BEST ANIMATION FILM GOLDEN GLOBE 2009).
A contemporary family drama, Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married explores the tensions that estrangement can bring when reunions are called for (Venice Film Festival, 1 GOLDEN GLOBE 2009 NOMINATION).

Lungarno Guicciardini 9. Free admission. Lectures start at 6:00 pm. For info: tel. 055 2677 8270, library@britishinstitute.it
Wednesday 4: William Roscoe. William Roscoe was a self-taught Liverpudlian who wrote the first English biography of Lorenzo de' Medici, in 1795. John Law, who lectures in history at Swansea university, will show how the debate over Lorenzo's reputation prefigured later discussion on communal and 'despotic' regimes in renaissance Italy.
Wednesday 11: Florentine Old Master drawings. Nearly all the great painters of renaissance Florence were also great draughtsmen. Thomas Galdy, who ran a gallery in New York dealing in Old Master drawings, will consider the many forms, aspects and uses of Florentine 15th- and 16th-century drawings.
Wednesday 18. Ilaria Sborgi. 'This interval from fighting': a marginal incident in Florentine history recounted by Dorothy Nevile Lees
Dorothy Nevile Lees was an English journalist who lived in Florence between 1903 and 1966. Ilaria Sborgi's lecture will focus on an unpublished article in which the author recounts a curious episode she witnessed at the end of the Second World War.
Wednesday 25: The Italianate settings of Shakespeare and other Jacobean dramatists. In this talk Julia Lacey Brooke will consider the absorption of colourful figures from the Commedia dell'Arte and other Italian influence into English drama.

Theatre info: Teatro Comunale , Via Solferino 15. Tel. 055 27791. Teatro della Pergola, Via della Pergola 12/32, Tel. 055 2479651. Teatro Verdi, Via Ghibellina 99, tel. 055 212320. Teatro Saschall , Lungarno Moro 3, tel. 055 6504112. Teatro Goldoni, Via Santa Maria 15. Tel. 055 229651. Teatro Romano, Fiesole, Tel. 055/59187. Mandela Forum, Viale Paoli 3, tel. 055 678841. Stazione Leopolda. Viale Fratelli Rosselli 5. St. Mark’s Church. Via Maggio 16. Tel. 055 294764. Church of Orsanmichele, Via dei Calzaiuoli. Tel. 055-210305. Purchase tickets for theatre, concerts and other events at the following ticket agencies: BOX OFFICE: Via Alamanni, 39 (alongside the train station). Open Monday 15,30-19,30, from Tuesday to Saturday 10,00-19,30. Tel: 055/210804. Fax: 055/213112, INTERNATIONAL STUDIO, Chiasso de’ Soldanieri, Tel. 055/293393, ARGONAUTA VIAGGI, Lungarno Torrigiani 33/B, 055/2342777.9187. Many tickets can be pre-purchased via www.ticketone.it or www.boxol.it or www.classictic.com/en or www.festivalopera.it

Friday 6
THE BEST OF PARSONS DANCE. Coreography by David Parsons. Teatro Verdi.

Saturday 7
VIKTORIA MULLOVA, violin. GIULIANO CARMIGNOLA, violin. Music: Bach, Vivaldi, Haydn, Bartok, Leclair and Prokofiev. Teatro della Pergola. 4:00 p.m.
THE BEST OF PARSONS DANCE. Coreography by David Parsons. Teatro Verdi.
KATAKLO - Athletic Dance Theatre in PLAY. Sports, free from competition, between irony and poetry. Directed and choreographed by Giulia Staccioli. Original music: Ajad. Teatro Puccini.

Sunday 8
ALTENBERG TRIO (II). Music: Svirdidov, Roslavec and Rachmaninov. Teatro della Pergola. 9:00 p.m.
THE BEST OF PARSONS DANCE. Coreography by David Parsons. Teatro Verdi.
KATAKLO - Athletic Dance Theatre in PLAY. Sports, free from competition, between irony and poetry. Directed and choreographed by Giulia Staccioli. Original music: Ajad. Teatro Puccini.

Friday 13
NEGRITA. Saschall.

Saturday 14
I PAGLIACCI, opera by Leoncavallo. Director: Patrick Fournillier. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.
JIAN WANG, cello. GRETEL DOWDESWELL, piano. Music: Brahms and Beethoven. Teatro della Pergola. 4:00 pm.
RAF. Saschall.

Sunday 15
I PAGLIACCI, opera by Leoncavallo. Director: Patrick Fournillier. Teatro Comunale. 3:30 pm.
CHRISTOPH PREGARDIEN, tenor. ANDREAS STAIER, pianoforte. Music: Schubert. Teatro della Pergola. 9:00 pm.

Monday 16
ALTENBERG TRIO (III). Music: Rachmaninov, Meyer, Shostakovich. Teatro della Pergola. 9:00 pm.

Tuesday 17
I PAGLIACCI, opera by Leoncavallo. Director: Patrick Fournillier. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.

Thursday 19
I PAGLIACCI, opera by Leoncavallo. Director: Patrick Fournillier. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.

Saturday 21
ORCHESTRA DEL MAGGIO MUSCIALE FIORENTINO, concert. Conducted by Kazushi Ono, Emanuele Arciuli, piano. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.
VIRTUOSI ITALIANI - MASSIMO QUARTA, violin, LILYA ZILBERSTEIN, piano. Music: Chausson, Strauss, Beethoven. Teatro della Pergola. 4:00 pm.
DENNIS AND THE JETS – 50’S PARTY. Porto di Mare Restaurant and Music Bar. Via Pisana 128. Tel. 055 7191160. www.portodimarelive.com

Sunday 22
ORCHESTRA DEL MAGGIO MUSCIALE FIORENTINO. Conducted by Kazushi Ono, Emanuele Arciuli, piano. Teatro Comunale. 4:30 pm.
ANDRAS SCHIFF, piano. Music: Mozart. Teatro della Pergola. 9:00 pm.

Tuesday 24
OASIS. Mandela Forum .

Wednesday 25
MANGO. Teatro Verdi.

Thursday 26
RENZO ARBORE. Teatro Verdi.

Friday 27
ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR OF THE MAGGIO MUSICALE FIORENTINO. Conducted by Andrey Boreyko, Piero Monti, choir director. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.
PAGANINI in OMAGGIO A BEJART – A HERO OF DANCE. Coreography by Mvula Sungani. Teatro Puccini.

Saturday 28
ANDREA LUCCHESINI, piano. Music: Schubert, Brahms. Teatro della Pergola. 4:00 pm.

Sunday March 1
ANDRAS SCHIFF, piano. Music: Mozart. Teatro della Pergola. 9:00 pm.


Chocolate chocolate everywhere! It is the FESTA DEL CIOCCOLATO in Sesto Fiorentino (Via Cavallotti) Fri. 6 to Sun. 8, with a dozen chocolate makers and their wares. CIOCCOLATO E DELIZIE takes place Sat. 14 and Sun 15 in Impruneta. Check out the Loggiati del Pellegrino in Piazza Buondelmonti in the heart of historic Impruneta for tastes of chocolate, a Tuscan terra cotta urn … in chocolate, chocolate sculptures and on Sunday, the fair expands to include antiques, art, and craft folk with their works. Info: 329.1349671, www.comune.impruneta.fi.it. Also on Sat. 14 and Sun. 15, the newly restored central piazza of Fiesole will be filled with kiosks from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm, featuring all things sweet and wonderful, as will the Stazione Marittima of Livorno (from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm) serving up the “Black Gold” in a myriad of ways at CIOCCOLANDIA (info: tel. 347 6357063, www.spazio-eventi.it). If you still haven’t had enough chocolate, then check out Piazza Matteotti in Scandicci on Sat. 21 and Sun. 22 for more.

Starting Sun. 8, and proceeding through each of the next three Sundays (and Fat Tuesday) to the grand finale on March 1, seaside Viareggio is transformed into a mind-blowing party scene. This Tuscan festa (in its 135th year) simply MUST be experienced. Pile the gang in a car or onto the train and head out for one crazy Sunday afternoon. ENORMOUS floats parade along the boardwalk, peopled by hundreds of townsfolk each, dancing in front or animating the float itself. Leave your angst at home, wear clothes you don’t care too much about, because it is a given that you’ll end up sprayed with foam and sprinkled with confetti. Old, young, and everyone in between joins in the silliness.
Viareggio. Starting times for parades: Sunday 8 - 3:00 pm, Sunday 15 – 3:00 pm, Sunday 22 – 3:00 pm, Tuesday 24 – 3:00 pm, Sunday 1 March – 5:00 pm. Ticket: 15.00 euro. Kids under 10 free, 11 to 13: 10.00 euro. Info: tel. 0584 962568, www.viareggio.ilcarnevale.com.

Saturday 28 is a good day to plan a visit to Pisa for their monthly Farmer’s Market. Tuscan producers of everything from organically grown vegetables to jams and honey, cheese, pasta, bread and extra virgin olive oils set up stands where tasting and explanations are free for the asking.
Pisa – Piazza della Berlina. Open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. For further info see http://gasp.versacrum.com/

THE DELLA ROBBIA: A Renaissance Dialogue Between the Arts.
From Feb. 21 until June 7, Arezzo’s Museum of Medieval and Modern art of Arezzo presents the industrious Della Robbia family. From the early 1400's to near the end of the 1500's, this family produces glazed earthenware works that still speak to us today, with grace, charm and silent sweetness.
Starting with Luca della Robbia, through the ingenious, secret formula for creating and glazing the terra cotta masterpieces attributed to this family, sculpture, architecture and painting dialogue with the so-called "decorative arts (goldsmithing, glasswork, enamels, etc). In order to better explain this moment in art history of sharing and comparing that bred genius, alongside the Della Robbian production, will be works by artists contemporary to the family (Donatello, Ghiberti, Andrea del Verrocchio, Filippo Lippi, Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Desiderio da Settignano and others).
Arezzo, Museo Statale d’Arte Medievale e Moderna, Via San Lorentino 8. Open: daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Ticket: 10.00 euro. For info: www.mostradellarobbia.it

ART, GENIUS, FOLLY: The Night and Day of the Artist.
Until May 25, Siena’s Museum Santa Maria della Scala will host an exhibition of works by Ernst, Dix, Van Gogh, Kirchner, Munch, Guttuso, Mafai, Ligabue and more (do you feel the angst?). The show highlights the results of research from both artistic and scientific viewpoints, on the rapport between artistic production and mental disturbances that have touched art over time. More than 300 works, both paintings and sculpture, have been chosen to illustrate this complex relationship.
Siena, Museo di Santa Maria della Scala. Open: every day including holidays from 10:30 am/7:30 pm., Ticket: 8.00 euro. Tel. 0577 224811. www.artegeniofollia.it.

ANTONIO LIGABUE: His tiger roars between Pontassieve and the Arno.
Until June 7, the Palazzo Municipale of Pontassieve hosts 49 works by Antonio Ligabue, one of Italy’s most important, 20th century Naïve artists. Ligabue was born in Zurich, Switzerland, and died in Reggio Emilia in 1966. During a life spent in and out of psychiatric hospital wards, his natural talent came out in his use of wild colors, and the deep-seeing expressions that haunt his many self portraits, three of which are on show in Pontassieve. Other pieces depict wild animals, especially regal felines.
Pontassieve, Palazzo Comunale, Sala delle Colonne. Open: 9:30 to 12:30 and from 3 to 7:00 pm. On Fridays, afternoons only. Closed Mondays. Ticket: 5 euro. Info: tel. 055 8360346 www.comune.pontassieve.fi.it

GENIUS & PASSION, THE RESTORATION OF LIPPI'S FRESCOES IN PRATO. Prato Cathedral. Open Mon. ­ Sat. 10:00 am ­ 5:00 pm. Admission: 4
euro with audio guide. Small, guided tours available by calling 0574/24112.
Over five centuries ago, Filippo Lippi ascended three stories of scaffolding in the dark recesses of Prato’s cathedral. Today, the three-tiered frescoes, which cover the walls and vaults of the main chapel with stories of St. John the Baptist and St. Stephen, are visible in renewed splendor after seven years of restoration. Small, guided tours of the fresco cycle now allow the public to come face to face with Lippi.

All our best,

The Staff of Pitcher and Flaccomio

Newsletter compiled by Kim Wicks

Pitcher & Flaccomio Newsletter Copyright 2009

Direttore responsabile Mario Spezi -  Pubblicazione con iscrizione n. 5697 del 23\01\09 presso il Tribunale di Firenze