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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 January 2011
After a much appreciated winter break to visit family, friends and generally recoup, we are back sending our January greetings from Florence. Once again, the city was covered in snow for a few days before Christmas, bringing life to an unexpected standstill for a day. But with the snow long gone, and spirits high, we look forward to the warm good cheer that a quiet winter month in Florence and Tuscany can bring.

Two years ago we introduced our Newsletter Director, Mario Spezi. Mario an Italian journalist, renowned for investigating and writing for La Nazione though some of Tuscany's most horrendous crime years. He is the author of both fiction and non-fiction, including his latest success "La Moneta del Potere ha Sempre Tre Facce" (Barbera Editore). This is his second work regarding the fictional adventures of police commissioner Lupo Belacqua. Our readers are invited to join Mario on Wednesday 19 at 6:00 pm in the Salone dei Ducento at Palazzo Vecchio for the presentation of "La Moneta".
Also recently in the news, Mario's "The Monster of Florence" (co-written with Douglas Preston). The story, which spent numerous weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, was recently purchased by Fox 2000, as reported by Deadline.com in early January. According to Deadline, "Fox 2000 has closed a deal that turns the bestselling crime book The Monster of Florence into a star vehicle for George Clooney. Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander are aboard to write the script. Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen of the Jinks/Cohen Company will produce with Smokehouse's Grant Heslov, and McQuarrie.
Clooney will play Douglas Preston, who wrote the nonfiction bestseller The Monster of Florence with Italian crime reporter Mario Spezi. Preston is a thriller writer who met Spezi after moving to Italy. Together, they set out to solve a 30-year old serial murder case. Seven couples were savagely murdered between 1974 and 1985 while they sat in cars parked just outside Florence. The trail was cold when Preston moved into a nearby farmhouse and began asking questions. By that time, suspects had been let go, and authorities didn't welcome the curiosity of the writers. They threw Spezi in jail and interrogated Preston. Finally, the sleuths began putting the pieces into place and solved the murder.
The project was pitched to Fox 2000's Carla Hacken just before the holiday. She and president Elizabeth Gabler got excited enough to seal the deal just before Christmas. The producers had post-holiday meetings set around town, but they proved unnecessary and were canceled. For Clooney, this is another opportunity to make a movie in Italy, which has become his second home." So if there are George-sightings around Tuscany come this Fall, you will know who to thank!
Mario currently writes for Il Corriere Fiorentino, the Tuscan edition of the Corriere della Sera. More about Mario can be found at: http://www.mariospezi.it

Our January Newsletter covers the Pitti fashion fairs, January sales, music, lectures, food, exhibits and of course the Florentine football antics.

From all of us at Pitcher & Flaccomio, SUZANNE, CORSO, BEI, SANDRA, LORI, ANNA PIA, KIMBERLY and MARIO, loads of warm wishes for a 2011 filled with joy and good health.


Italy has two legally determined sale seasons (from January 7 to March 7, and July/August), when stores have their only possibility of sale pricing merchandise to make room for the new collections. Most kinds of stores have lots of items on sale, and clothing stores in particular drop prices by 30 to 50% on almost everything. Go wild, or at least, go check it out.

Bishop's Visitation - Sunday, January 23, 9 am and 11 am services. Bishop Pierre Whalon's annual visitation to St. James will be on Sunday, January 23. Anyone wishing to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church by the Bishop at that time is asked to contact the church office.
Watercolor Classes to Resume in February - Painting with Robert Reed - The watercolor classes taught by local artist Robert Reed will resume in February (date TBA). Information: Tel. 349 679 0358. Email robert-b-reed@libero.it
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be from January 18 through January 25. On January 25, St. James will host an Ecumenical gathering at 6 pm, with a dinner to follow.
The complete schedule:
Monday, January 17, 6 pm., Giorgio La Pira International Student Center - Sala Teatina, Via de' Pescioni 3. "Honor Your Father and Your Mother". Introduction: Mons. Timothy Verdon (Catholic Church). Speaker: Rabbi Joseph Levi (Head Rabbi of Florence).
Tuesday, January 18, 5 pm., Baptistery - Piazza San Giovanni, "The Church of Jerusalem". Speakers: Archbishop Mons. Giuseppe Betori (Catholic Church), Pastor Alison Walker (Methodist Church). Chants: Greek Orthodox Church, Monastic Brotherhood of Jerusalem, St. Giles Community
Wednesday, January 19, 5 pm., Lutheran Community - Via Bardi 20, "Many Members in One Body". Introduction: Pastor Martin Moeslin (Lutheran Church). Speakers: Prof. Marco Bontempi (Catholic Church), Fr. Nicola Papadopoulo (Greek Orthodox Church).
Thursday, January 20, 6 pm., Methodist Church - Via de' Benci 9, "Faithfulness to the Apostles' Teachings Unite Us". Ecumenical Worship. Presiding: Pastor Alison Walker (Methodist Church), Pastor Pawel Gajewski (Waldensian Church). Speaker: Fr. Giorgio Blatinski (Russian Orthodox Church).
Friday, January 21, 9 pm., Stensen Auditorium - Viale Don Minzoni, 25g, Round Table "Sharing as an Expression of Unity". Speaker:
Don Enrico Vannoni, St. Leolino Community (Catholic Church), Introduction: Mons. Timothy Verdon (Catholic Church). Participants: Pastor Mario Affuso (Italian Apostolic Church), Mons. Timothy Verdon (Catholic Church), Fr. I Coman (Romanian Orthodox Church),
Saturday, January 22, 6 pm., St. Mark's Anglican Church - Via Maggio 16. "Strengthened by Prayer", Vespers. Presiding: The Rev. Lawrence MacLean (Anglican Church). Speaker: Mons. Dante Carolla (Catholic Church).
Monday, January 24, 6:30 pm., Sacred Family Catholic Church - Via Gioberti 33. "Breaking of the Bread with Hope", Ecumenical Worship. Presiding: Don Gianni D'Alessandro (Catholic Church). Speakers: Fr. Angelos Beshai (Orthodox Coptic Church), Maj. David Cavanagh (Salvation Army).
Tuesday, January 25, 6 pm., St. James Episcopal Church - Via B. Rucellai 9, "Called to Service for Reconciliation". Ecumenical Worship. Presiding: The Rev. Mark Dunnam. Speaker: Pastor Mario Marziale (Swiss Reform Church), Agape Fraterna - Light Dinner (€5 contribution).
Wednesday, January 26, 6 pm., Giorgio La Pira International Student Center - Sala Teatina, Via de' Pescioni 3, "Unity in the Islamic Revelation". Introduction: Pastor Pawel Gajewski (Waldensian Church). Speaker: Patrizia Del Monte (Vice President UCOII).
The offerings collected during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be donated to the victims of flooding in the Veneto region.
St. James Church, Florence. Via B. Rucellai, 9. Email: info@stjames.it, friends@stjames.it or call the church office at 055 294417.

Since 1992, Musicus Concentus has offered a detailed survey of the contemporary music scene. Concerts this month will take place at 9:00 pm, in the Sala Vanni, in Piazza del Carmine 14 and at the Teatro Metastasio in Prato. Tickets: 12 to 20 euro. Tel. 055 287347. www.musicusconcentus.com
Monday 24 - STEVE LEHMAN OCTET - Steve Lehman is one of today's best known jazz saxophonists. Teatro Metastasio - Prato
Sunday 30 - SON OF DAVE - otherwise known as Benjamin Darvill, ex-guitarist of the Crash Test Dummies, appearing here as a "one man band". Sala Vanni.

Hello and Happy New Year,
Gearing up to begin again with Art classes for kids at my new and improved studio space on Via Santo Spirito. "Apprenticeship the Old Masters" workshops will still be very much the focus of the course, but I plan to incorporate some different events this time around. Portraiture painting classes from the live model was a big hit last year and it is my plan to add to our program more frequent museums visits and art history research projects. Lessons on how to sketch from the Florentine monuments, as well as ample opportunity to draw on sight at the museums the statues of Donatello, Verrocchio and Michelangelo will all be on the agenda for 2011. If you are interested in participating and wish to discuss schedule and course fees, then please drop me a line at this email address or give me a ring at 3343140398. Feel free to come by my studio and meet with me in person if you wish. I am located at Via Santo Spirito 12.
Warm Regards, Sharon Okun www.sharonokun.com

FOOTBAAAALLL!! by Simon Clark and Anne Brooks
Forza Viola!..........Where is Dr House when you need him? This season has starred our medical staff as a lengthening line of players has limped, slouched and whimpered towards the treatment table. Key people have been missing, making it been hard for Mihajlovic to build continuity but - looking back at the slump that began in Prandelli's last days - the new Mr seems to have stopped the rot and settled the team into the mid-table fray. Can he lift us back towards the league's stratosphere? For that we need our invalids to rise and walk in the New Year.

December Results
Week 15: Fiorentina-Cagliari WON 1-0
Week 16: Udinese-Fiorentina LOST 1-2
Coppa Italia: Parma-Fiorentina LOST 1-2
Week 17: Fiorentina-Inter Postponed

Serie A. Week 15, a crisp and even early winter afternoon brings Cagliari to the Stadio. The Viola are schizophrenic on venue but at home we are solid. Today is no exception. With Boruc looking impregnable and young Camporese an amazingly assured partner to Gamberini at the heart of defence, Cagliari never get a sniff of goal. This leaves Donadel and D'Agostino to boss the park; 5 minutes into the second half, it's the latter whose pinpoint free kick into Mutu's path enables the Romanian to nod us in front. We have the ball in their net four more times (including a fantastic volley from the irrepressible Donadel); all are ruled out for diverse pettifogging reasons. Mind you, Vargas, one-on-one with their keeper, misses when it seemed impossible to do so. A very comfortable one-nil victory. Who would have expected Cagliari to rattle in three without reply the following week while we trekked northwards.....
.....to Udinese. The friulani are on a roll, last week shaking down a resurgent Roma. We, by contrast, are down to our 3rd-choice keeper; Boruc has joined the sick. We review an uncomfortable pattern as we lead (on 30 minutes through Santana's 30-metre strike) and then gift two. Truth to tell, it was our only shot on goal in the entire game and we never got to grips with an opposition who hemmed and harried our midfield and defence until we lost all sense of organisation. It's against teams like this where we miss Montolivo (and Gilardino, Jovetic and the rest!). All three goals were long-range and soft; a goal-less draw would have been a reasonably fair result but the 1-2 defeat was pretty much what our performance deserved.
That's it for 2010 Serie A games; our last match was to have been against Inter but, as they have been winning some glitzy and meaningless world club championships, this game has been postponed until 26 January.
Coppa Italia. Apologies for last month's game with Parma; we said it was on 8 December; it was actually 14 December. Our pride is wounded; fortunately, there have been no Thumbs Down from people who turned up on the wrong day. According to the press, the cup would save our season. Judging by Sinisa's team selection (rather than his press comments) he still considers it a secondary competition; he left out Gila and Mutu and brought in our youngsters. Even so and with both sides rattling the crossbar early on, we had the edge in a goal-less 90 minutes. Extra time and it's tragic - we are giving it everything and again it's Santana rifling home with 6 minutes remaining - but what a 6 minutes! It takes Crespo only 3 minutes to crash in two goals. Doh!
It's not long since we were bottom of the league; here we are just 4 points behind Inter's 7th position; however, Fiorentina must start putting it all together in January. Jo-Jo will still be convalescing but we should have Gila and Mutu up front, one or both of our front-line keepers fit and, critically, Montolivo available. We have six games and we expect a minimum of 11 points from them. The Brescia and Lecce matches should be straightforward for a team of our calibre. The other three pose sterner tests. We drew with Napoli on the opening day of the season and there's no reason why we can't do so again even though they celebrate Christmas in 2nd position; we have home advantage against an uncharacteristically erratic Inter and another draw would be a fine result. Finally, Lazio are always capable of giving us the run around and they are very much on song these days - so we might lose that one but anything is possible .....................Alé Viola e Felice 2011!

BUYING TICKETS - Ticket information - seating plan, prices, and ticket outlets - is on the "biglietteria" section of the club's website [www.it.violachannel.tv ]. Tickets can be purchased at official box offices and holders of TicketOne lottery franchises. Sources include:
CHIOSCO DEGLI SPORTIVI, via degli Anselmi (between Piazza Repubblica and the Odeon cinema). Tel 055 292363.
BAR MARISA, viale Manfredo Fanti 41. Tel 055 572723.
BAR STADIO, viale Manfredo Fanti 3r. Tel 055 576169.
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

THE FIORENTINA SCHEDULE: These are the January games, including the rescheduled match against Inter:
Week 18: 06 Jan/away Bologna-Fiorentina
Week 19: 09 Jan/home Fiorentina-Brescia
Week 20: 16 Jan/away Napoli-Fiorentina
Week 21: 23 Jan/home Fiorentina-Lecce
Week 17: 26 Jan/home Fiorentina-Inter
Week 22: 30 Jan/away Lazio-Fiorentina

Inspired by a dish enjoyed recently at Fifteen in London, this is a quirky twist on the summery tomato and mozzarella classic. Serves 2.

1 handful of arugula
2 100 gm. balls of good, fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 clementines, peeled and sliced into rounds
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper

On a bed of arugula, lay out the mozzarella slices and season with salt and pepper. Top with sliced clementines and drizzle with dressing made by whisking or shaking together the lemon juice, olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste. Optional additions to the plate: flakes of fresh parmesan, a splash of good balsamic vinegar, thinly sliced prosciutto, other greens like radicchio or mint leaves.

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) those of our readers. Lend us your thoughts!

About London - Following up on last month's note regarding a new CityJet flight between Florence (Peretola) and London that lands at the small, accessible London City Airport, an unexpected layover in London over Christmas plopped me right into the heart of the City for a 5-day stay. My hotel was located just a few steps from the Fenchurch DLR station (Docklands Light Railway) that connects directly to the LC Airport. Just FYI, there were a number of decent-looking hotels a stone's throw from the station (the brand new Mint, the Grange City Hotel) including the Novotel Tower of London where I spent a reasonable euro 120 per night for a triple room with breakfast (booked very last-minute through Expedia).


On Saturday 15 and Sunday 16, the park and gardens of the Fortezza da Basso once again host Florence's most important, monthly antiques fair. Come browse the booths and stands selling antique tables, chairs, armoires, plus frames and paintings and all sorts of odds and ends. Fortezza da Basso gardens. Open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm each day. Phone for further information: tel. 055 27051 .

On Sun. 16 don't miss the chance to stroll around Piazza Santo Spirito and admire the crafts and organic food fair. Your will find hand-woven dresses and ponchos, beeswax candles, naturally scented soaps and oils, home-baked bread and cakes, ceramics, wine, olive oil, olive wood salad bowls and more.

From Thursday 20 to Saturday 22, Florence and the Fortezza da Basso will be the scene of PITTI BIMBO " the only trade event in the world that offers a complete overview of the children's fashion galaxy," says the deputy general manager of Pitti Immagine. It is a fair that features not only different looks and styles in children's fashions - from sportswear to the classic-elegance of the big brands, from the creativity of independent brands to street couture - but also textiles and design related to a kid-size environment.
The important news at this edition of Pitti Bimbo are innovations and special projects by Nolita Pocket and Rare Kids, Alberto Fasciani, 9.2 Kids, Closed, Toywatch, Daniele Alessandrini and Monocrom. Plus products that have become "lifestyle staples" in children's fashion - jewels, fragrances, eyewear, books and accessories - that will plump up the fair's core offering.
Judging from the top Italian and international buyers that come every year, Pitti Bimbo is a success, with quality and innovations that attest to the organizers' commitment to discovering new brands and new talents. Buyers from Italy include: Giò Moretti and La Rinascente; from the United Kingdom Harrods and Selfridges; from France Le Bon Marché and Galeries Lafayette; from Germany August Pfueller and Barbara Freres; from the United States Barney's, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks and Neiman Marcus; from Russia Bosco dei Ciliegi, Podium and Tsum; from Spain El Corte Inglés; from Japan Isetan, Takashimaya, United Arrows; from Saudi Arabia Al Garawi and Lollypop; from Hong Kong Horn's Limited... and many others from new markets like Brazil, Ukraine and Turkey.
The show is generally open to members of the trade only. To get an admission badge, you must show your official invitation at the reception desk. If you do not have an invitation you can fill out a registration form and show identification proving your professional status. For more information: pr.visitatori@pittimmagine.com, phone. 055.3693223, http://www.pittimmagine.com/en/homef.php.

Wednesday 26 to Friday 28 the Fortezza da Basso hosts Pitti Filati , an annual tradeshow dedicated to fibers and knits. This is the venue to preview trends for the 2012 spring/summer season. The deputy general manager of Pitti Immagine calls it "a laboratory-workshop offering its audience - international buyers and fashion designers - the tools for researching and developing fashion products" through the art of yarn manufacturing. A special area "Spazio Ricerca" at Pitti Filati 68 will be SENSO: leading participants on a journey through the senses and their potential, revealing the ideas and concepts around us just waiting to be understood in new ways. Like short films, 25 new stimuli related to our senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell will transpose bits of our collective and daily experiences into something new and unique.
Once again, focus will be dedicated to the latest innovations in yarn research, with the aim to expand knowledge about yarns with special properties: hypoallergenic yarns, yarns that warm, yarns that cool, yarns that treat, mosquito repellent yarns, yarns with aromas and special wellness components - the yarns of the future have a multitude of functions. See Pitti Bimbo above, for visitor information or contact pr.visitatori@pittimmagine.com, phone. 055.3693223, http://www.pittimmagine.com/en/homef.php.

From Wed. 26 to Sun. 30 the Stazione Leopolda will once again host Vintage Selection, the exhibition-market of vintage clothing, accessories and design items that works in parallel with the Pitti fashion shows. Vintage Selection is used by many as a tool to research the fashions of the past, as an archive from which today's collections can be inspired. It is attended by collectors and aficionados, and has become a not-to-be-missed event for style consultants of international fashion houses that come to Florence seeking input for their own creative research. This edition, at Spazio Alcatraz you can try on vintage clothes and accessories and get your photo taken. You will find a Polaroid Museum, dedicated to the machine much loved by contemporary artists (and regular folk). On Saturday, between 5 and 6:00 pm, a Vintage lesson will take place, walking through the show with an expert ready to offer advice. And on Sunday, between 5 and 6:00 pm, Sauro Sedioli will teach guests how to recognize the real from the false (special focus on vintage designer handbags). Vintage Selection is open to everyone! Stazione Leopolda, Viale F.lli Rosselli, 5. Hours: 10 am to 8 pm. Entrance fee: 5.00 euro. www.stazione-leopolda.com. Tel: 055 212622.

From Friday February 4 to Sunday 13, Piazza Santa Croce will host the 7th edition of La Fiera del Cioccolato Artigianale, Florence's annual Chocolate fair. Discover the work of over 30 Italian artisan chocolatiers. Next to some of Florence's best chocolate artisans (Becagli Cioccolato, Boutique del Cioccolato, Il Cioccolato di Luca Moranti), you will find Sicily's oldest chocolate producer Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, Torino's Cioccolato Poretti, and Garritano 1908 from Cosenza, to name a few. Piazza Santa Croce. Open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. Free entry. For further info: tel. 055 414497, http://www.fieradelcioccolato.it

Until May 1 Palazzo Vecchio will be showing the much ballyhooed, diamond-studded skull by controversial artist Damien Hirst. Cast in platinum from an original human skull found in a London taxidermy shop, the piece apparently elicited the comment "for the love of God" from Hirst's mother when she saw what he was working on. The skull includes 8601 pavé-laid diamonds (and real teeth from the original skull) for a total of 1,106.18 carats, including the centrally-place star diamond which alone measures 52.40 carats. The work took 18 months to complete and has been touring the world.
Rather unusual show regulations read: For security reasons the visit to Damien Hirst's work For the Love of God and the Palazzo Vecchio Studiolo is limited to groups of a maximum of 12 people. Each group will first enter the Studiolo of Francesco I, where it can stay for three minutes before entering the Camera del Duca where the work is displayed. The group can stay in this room for a further three minutes. Visitors are informed that they will be seeing the work For the Love of God in a completely dark room. At the end of the visit you will be able to visit the Palazzo Vecchio museum. Visitors cannot access the museum more than once with the same ticket, but while they are in the museum they may make repeated return visits to the exhibition For the Love of God. Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria 1. Hours: every day 9:00 am - 12:00 am, Thursdays 9:00 am - 2:00 pm. The ticket office closes one hour before the exhibition. Ticket: 10 euro. Info: tel. 055055

RUGGITO - Antonio Ligabue: The Fight for Life
Until Jan. 16 the Gallery of Modern Art at the Pitti hosts an exhibition focused on the theme of animals, and in particular wild animals depicted in scenes of fighting and attack-the Black Widow, the Leopard, the Wildcat with Kite, Tiger Being Attacked by Snake-as well as numerous self-portraits in which Antonio Ligabue portrays his own face in a variety of aspects of physical and psychic pain. The exhibition features 80 artworks, genuine masterpieces of intense and expressive power and explosive chromatic energy.
Antonio Ligabue (b. 1899, d. 1965) was one of Italy's most important Naïve artists of the 20th century. This overview captures many intimate and significant aspects of Ligabue's work, and announces it in an extraordinary fashion in a single word: ‘roar.' Both the artist's roar and the roar of the animals portrayed. One long howl portrayed in continuation on canvas after canvas, as if to depict the harshness of the world. Ligabue takes us, with his self-portraits and savage beasts, to the archaic, prehistoric significance of art. In order to paint, and to paint himself, he needs to shout into the mirror and at himself. The painting created in this fashion is an unleashing of guttural, cutting sounds, as unruly and disheveled as the blizzards that he confronted on the wintry banks of the river Po, or perhaps, more simply, as his own life. Gallery of Modern Art (Palazzo Pitti). Ticket: euro 12.00. This ticket also allows entry to the Palatine Gallery Caravaggio e i Caravaggeschi a Firenze exhibit. Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 am. to 6:50 pm. Info: Firenze Musei tel. 055. 294883

Until January 23 Palazzo Strozzi presents one of the greatest painters of the sixteenth century, Agnolo di Cosimo, known as Bronzino (1503-1572). Bronzino embodied the fullness of the ‘modern manner' in the years of the government of Cosimo I de' Medici. Florence is clearly the preferential location for a monographic exhibition on Bronzino, since the majority of his paintings are still conserved here, above all in the Uffizi, but also in other city museums and in the churches. This exhibition, the first devoted to Agnolo's pictorial work, will also avail of loans from the most important museums all over the world.
The exhibition comprises a selection of works of the very highest level: autograph works by Bronzino and other artists connected with him - such as Pontormo and Alessandro Allori. The idea is, through direct comparisons made possible for the first time, to enable a broad public to admire and comprehend the unrivalled poetic heights achieved by the artist. Finally, it will be possible to study and compare several works, most of them attributed with certainty to Bronzino, displayed to the public for the first time. The exhibition will be divided into chapters devoted to crucial phases, episodes or genres in Bronzino's work. The show will present a wide variety of Bronzino's masterpieces, some of them displayed together for the first time, in addition to a selection of drawings originating from the greatest museums in the world. Alongside the works conserved in the Uffizi, will be Venus, Cupid and Jealousy from the Szépmuvészeti Múzeum in Budapest, the Portrait of Young Man with a Book from the Metropolitan Museum of New York and the Holy Family and Saint John, in the version of the Louvre (Paris) and of the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna. Palazzo Strozzi, Piazza Strozzi. Hours: daily 9 am-8 pm, Thursday 9 am-11 pm. Info: 055 2645155

VINUM NOSTRUM - Art, science and myths of wine in ancient Mediterranean civilizations
Until May 14 the Museo degli Argenti hosts Vinum Nostrum. From Mesopotamia to our tables, from the rite of communion to avoidable drunkenness, from distasteful habit to the gate of spirituality, wines and vines are the protagonists of this exhibit. Original showpieces, sculptures, frescoes and mosaics, accompanied by multimedia and video installations tell the millenarian history of the grapevine and of wine, and the important influence they exerted on ancient cultures. Following a chronological development, the exhibition illustrates the origin of wine-growing in the Near East, its full affirmation along with its related symbolic, religious and cultural significance in the Hellenic world, up to the wine production and large-scale diffusion practiced by the Romans.
By virtue of the abundant archaeological remains of the Vesuvian cities, the particular case of Pompeii's vineyards is illustrated, while the exhibition devotes another section to the contribution of the Phoenicians and the Etruscans, who played an essential role in spreading vitis vinifera throughout the Mediterranean. While inviting visitors to reflect on the evolution of cultivation techniques (reproduction and genetic improvement, plowing the land, tending the vineyard, theoretical principles and practical instructions for pruning and grafting), specially selected exhibits also illustrate the religious and cultural values of the grapevine, expressed through a series of depictions regarding the divinities, rituals and festivities of wine. Sculptures and painted vases illustrate the cult of Dionysus. Elegant table-services clarify how the consumption of wine represented one of the most important moments of conviviality among patricians. A cella vinaria where wine was stored, reconstructed based on finds uncovered at Pompeii and on the precise descriptions contained in Latin literature, enable the visitor to delve into the reality of the past, through tools for the vineyard, wine amphorae and wooden barrels, baskets for harvesting, carts and more.
The exhibition itinerary aims not only at scientifically documenting the entire cycle of wine, from harvest to consumption, but also by stimulating the visitor's senses of taste, smell and sight. Museo degli Argenti, Palazzo Pitti. Hours: 8:15 am to 6:50 pm. Ticket: € 10.00. Closed on the 1st and the last Monday of each month. Info: Tel. 055294883

The British Institute Weekly Cultural Programme. Every Wednesday at 6:00 pm, the Sala Ferragamo in the Institute's Harold Acton Library hosts a free lecture, concert or other event, followed by an informal reception. British Institute Library, Lungarno Guicciardini 9.
Wednesday 19 - Linda Falcone - In other words: adventures in Italian expression. Language reflects the psyche of a nation and this is especially true in Italy where words are the most common music and gestures the most frequent dance. Through the in-depth investigation of everyday expressions, Linda Falcone will focus on the virtues and vice of Italian society and its people's views on living and loving. Her talk is both a study and a celebration of Italy's idiosyncrasies: one idiom at a time. Author of Italians Dance and I'm a Wallflower and If They Are Roses: the Italian Way with Words, Linda Falcone has been a columnist with The Florentine, Tuscany's English language newspaper, since its founding in 2005. Moving Days, her first novel, was published in October 2010.
Wednesday 26 - Niccolò Capponi - An unlikely prince: the life and times of Machiavelli. The most promising approach to achieving a fresh perspective on the Florentine political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) - avoiding the stereotypes both of the devilish Machiavel of the Elizabethan stage (‘Old Nick'), and of the ruthless exponent of Realpolitik, for whom the end justifies every possible means - is to set him firmly in the tumultuous and mercurial Florence of his own times. This is the approach adopted by the historian Niccolò Capponi (author of Victory of the West, a highly acclaimed study of the battle of Lepanto) in his new biography of Machiavelli, the first in English for almost a decade, published by DaCapo Press. He tells us that he identifies with his subject's sense of humour, ‘as shocking as it may appear to those not born and bred in Florence'.
Wednesday 2 February - John Hoenig - Making a spectacle: Buontalenti's theatre designs for the wedding of Ferdinando de' Medici and Christine of Lorraine. In 1589 Florence witnessed a dynastic marriage whose great political significance deserved a month-long celebration for the city and its international visitors. This allegorical display of power and magnificence culminated in a spectacular production performed at the Teatro Mediceo in the Uffizi. Bridging the five acts of the comedy La Pellegrina, the six Intermedi were remarkable for heralding the transition from music theatre to opera, integrating dance and ‘marvellous' visual spectacle. Bernardo Buontalenti was responsible for the design of the theatre building, stage machinery, scenery, special effects, and 286 costumes. The talk is illustrated with images of the original drawings by Buontalenti and his contemporaries together with extracts of music from the Intermedi by the foremost composers of their day, including Peri, Caccini and de' Cavalieri. John Hoenig has had an extensive career as a director and lighting designer in theatre and special events. Since moving to Florence he has conducted independent research into Buontalenti's theatrical and architectural designs.

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. Teatro Puccini, via delle Cascine 41, Tel 055 362067. Chiesa S. Stefano al Ponte Vecchio, piazza S. Stefano 5. Viper Theatre, Via Lombardia 1.055/318056, www.viperclub.eu. Auditorium FLOG, Via M. Mercati, 24/b, 055/210804, www.flog.it Sala Vanni, Piazza del Carmine 14. Teatro Everest, Via Volterrana 4/b, tel. 055. 23 21 754. info@teatroeverest.it, www.teatroeverest.it. Teatro Politeama Pratese, Via G. Garibaldi, 33 - Prato. Tel: 0574/603758, www.politeamapratese.com. Purchase tickets for theatre, concerts and other events at the following ticket agencies: BOX OFFICE: Via delle Vecchie Carceri, 1 (near S. Ambrogio ), open M-F 9:30 to 7:00 pm, and Sat. 9:30 to 2:00 pm.. ARGONAUTA VIAGGI, Lungarno Torrigiani 33/B, Tel.055/2342777. Many tickets can be pre-purchased via www.ticketone.it, www.boxol.it.

Wednesday 12
DON PASQUALE - a three-act operetta by Gaetano Donizetti. Riccardo Frizza conducts, Jonathan Miller directs. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.
Thursday 13
DON PASQUALE - a three-act operetta by Gaetano Donizetti. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.
Friday 14
DON PASQUALE - a three-act operetta by Gaetano Donizetti. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.
Saturday 15
DON PASQUALE - a three-act operetta by Gaetano Donizetti. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.
LA PRINCIPESSA DELLA CZARDA - an operetta by Stein and Jenback, music by Kálmán. Teatro Verdi. 8:45 pm.
MARIE-ELIZABETH (cello) and MARTIN HELMCHEN (piano) - Music of Bach, Brahms, Janacek and Mendelssohn. Teatro della Pergola. 4:00 pm.
Sunday 16
DON PASQUALE - a three-act operetta by Gaetano Donizetti. Teatro Comunale. 3:30 pm.
Thursday 20
MAX GAZZE' - Teatro Puccini. 9:00 pm
PIERO MONTI CONDUCTS - Paola Leggeri (soprano), Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani (tenor). Music by Rossini. Teatro Comunale. 8: 30 pm.
Friday 21
URI CAINE with the Orchestra della Toscana - Carolo Tenan conducts. Music by Britten, Caine, Brahms/Caine. Teatro Verdi. 9:00 pm.
Sunday 23
MATTHIAS GOERNE (baritone) - ERIC SCHNEIDER (piano): music by Schubert. Teatro della Pergola. 9:00 pm.
Monday 24
MATTHIAS GOERNE (baritone) - ERIC SCHNEIDER (piano): music by Schubert. Teatro della Pergola. 9:00 pm.
Thursday 27
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM - Choreography by Francesco Ventriglia, music by Mendelssohn. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.
Friday 28
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM - Choreography by Francesco Ventriglia, music by Mendelssohn. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.
Saturday 29
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM - Choreography by Francesco Ventriglia, music by Mendelssohn. Teatro Comunale. 3:30 and 8:30 pm.
Sunday 30
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM - Choreography by Francesco Ventriglia, music by Mendelssohn. Teatro Comunale. 3:30 pm.
MATTHIAS GOERNE (baritone) - ERIC SCHNEIDER (piano): music by Schubert, Beethoven. Teatro della Pergola. 9:00 pm.

Odeon Theatre, Piazza Strozzi 2. Phone: 055 214 068. www.cinehall.it
Fri 14 - HEREAFTER (with Italian subtitles) by Clint Eastwood. 4.00 - 6.30 - 9.15 p.m.
Sat 15 - HEREAFTER (with Italian subtitles) by Clint Eastwood. 4.00 - 6.30 - 9.15 p.m.
Sun 16 - HEREAFTER (with Italian subtitles) by Clint Eastwood. 4.00 - 6.30 - 9.15 p.m.
Mon 17 - THE TOURIST by Florian Henkel Von Donnersmark. 4.00 - 6.00 - 8.30 - 10.30 p.m.
Tue 18 - HEREAFTER (with Italian subtitles) by Clint Eastwood. 4.00 - 6.30 - 9.15 p.m.
Wed 19 - HEREAFTER (with Italian subtitles) by Clint Eastwood. 4.00 - 6.30 - 9.15 p.m.
Check the Odeon site for upcoming show times for TRON: LEGACY, AWAY WE GO and TAMARA DREWE.
HEARAFTER stars Matt Damon and Cécile De France as two of three people; a blue-collar American, a French journalist and a London school boy, who are touched by death.
Although nearly universally panned, THE TOURIST might be easier to enjoy for Italophiles. Venice is well-shot and beautiful, Angelina Jolie plays a great Angelina Jolie, and despite being puzzlingly miscast as a boring math teacher on holiday, a dowdier-than-usual Johnny Depp is interesting to watch.


GHIRLANDAIO - The Ghirlandaio Family. Renaissance Painters in Florence and Scandicci,
Until May 1 a widespread series of locales host one of Florence's most interesting artistic dynasties. Though always used in the singular, the name Ghirlandaio is actually the trademark of a family dynasty of artists and entrepreneurs, who, beginning in the second half of the 15th century, dominated the scene of the Florentine Renaissance for a century. Domenico (1449-1494) was the first artist in the Ghirlandaio family, which included his brothers David (1452-1525) and Benedetto (1458-1497), his half-brother Giovambattista, his brother-in-law Bastiano, and his son Ridolfo (1483-1561). In addition to family members, numerous other artists who were apprenticed to their school (Michelangelo and Granacci being the most renowned) contributed to spreading their fame throughout Italy and Europe. The Ghirlandaio workshop was extremely productive and organized according to quite modern criteria as to skills and roles. Within the workshop Domenico and Ridolfo were the creative masters of colour, others were extremely good at painting, and others still, were expert in workshop management.
This well-balanced, prolific and long-lived clan is now the focus of an exhibition, the first one dedicated to the family in its entirety, involving an area spreading from Florence to Scandicci. This is the zone where the Ghirlandaio family lived and worked, rarely leaving, filling it with masterpieces, and creating a spectacular and diffused museum.
The actual surname of Domenico Ghirlandaio was Bigordi, and he and his brothers ended up being identified with the nickname of their father, an excellent goldsmith renowned for his special skill in making garlands (ghirlanda in Italian). From Scandicci, their homeland, they moved to Florence in the first half of the 15th century, and their workshop, in the then world capital of art, was established in the second half of the century.
The exhibition tour starts from Scandicci, in the Castello dell'Acciaiolo. The Castello showcases a famous painting by Domenico (Saints James, Stephen and Peter), a beautiful Madonna by Ridolfo (from the Fuligno Refectory) and 14 other works loaned by various museums in Florence.
Two different Ghirlandaio exhibition itineraries "depart" from Scandicci. The one in Florence includes the frescoes in the Sala dei Gigli of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Sassetti Chapel and the Tornabuoni Chapel - respectively in the churches of Santa Trinita and Santa Maria Novella - and the Adoration of the Magi at the Museo degli Innocenti. The other includes the area north-west of Florence, on both sides of the Arno, abounding in works of art that the Ghirlandaio family created and left in two family homes; in San Martino and Colleramole, in the Church of Sant'Andrea in Campi Bisenzio, the Sacred Art Museums of San Donnino and San Martino. And also Mosciano, Giogoli, San Martino alla Palma, and San Colombano.
It is a fascinating journey into the Florentine Renaissance which offers guided visits, educational workshops, as well as a prize for students and artisans. Moreover, you can buy or taste typical products in restaurants and shops participating in the initiative. Show locations: CASTELLO DELL'ACCIAIOLO, Via Pantin, Scandicci. BADIA DI SAN SALVATORE E SAN LORENZO A SETTIMO, Scandicci. MUSEO DI ARTE SACRA DI SAN MARTINO A GANGALANDI, Lastra a Signa. MUSEO DI ARTE SACRA DI SAN DONNINO, Campi Bisenzio. MUSEO DEGLI INNOCENTI, Florence. PALAZZO MEDICI RICCARDI, Florence. Hours: Thursdays to Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. For information and bookings: 055.2340742, www.ghirlandaio.it.

JOAN MIRO' - Myths of the Mediterranean at Palazzo Blu - Pisa
Until January 23, Pisa's Palazzo Blu hosts "Joan Miró. I miti del Mediterraneo", a retrospective exhibit of the works of this Spanish (Catalan) master. The show presents over 100 pieces ranging from sculpture and drawings, to paintings and illustrations.
Born in Barcelona, Mirò died in 1983, having earned international acclaim as a Surrealist. His style was in fact, surely also influenced by Dadaism, by his frequent visits to Paris, and by his relationships with printer Fernand Mourlot and the artists he often shared shows with; Chagall, Giacometti, Brach, Cesar, Ubac, and Tal-Coat. Palazzo Blu, Lungarno Gambacorti, 9. 56125 Pisa. Tel: 199 28514. Ticket: 8 euro. Hours: Tuesday thru Friday: from 10:00 am. to 7:00 pm. Saturday and Sunday: from 10:00 am. to 8:00 pm. Closed Monday. www.palazzoblu.org

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. The restoration began in the upper reaches of the chapel ceiling. Four monumental images of the evangelists are incised within the arches of the groin vault. Below them flow the scenes from the lives of two saints: Stephen, Prato's patron saint on the left, and John the Baptist, protector of nearby Florence on the right. From his birth in the top register to his death on the lower register, each saints' life is a theatrical spectacle played out with vivid imagery.
Fra Filippo Lippi was quite an intriguing character; his behavior wasn't exactly exemplary of the Carmelite order, (Fra indicates his religious title). The Carmelites ordained him and trained him as an artist, and by the time he reached Prato in 1452 he was among the most highly regarded and frequently commissioned painters of the early Renaissance. His trysts with various women had already gained him a somewhat sensational reputation, but it is the long-running romance with nun Lucrezia Buti, 25 years his junior, that has been most noted by history. Lucrezia modeled for many of the Lippi's Madonnas, and is said to have been the inspiration for the enchanting Salome, who dances through the final scene of John the Baptist's fresco cycle, The Feast of Herod. The three-part banquet scene contains larger-than-life figures that feast and make merry around the dancing girl, whom many compare to the female figures in the later works of Lippi's young apprentice Botticelli.
Prato Cathedral. Open Mon. to Sat. 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission: 4 euro with audio guide. Small, guided tours available by calling 0574/24112. www.restaurofilippolippi.it

All the best,

Pitcher and Flaccomio