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Rent, Sell and Manage Properties in Florence and Tuscany

In March 2013 we wrote that “a lot of the focus in Italy is going to be on the new government and the new Pope” and, except for the same Pope, the focus again in 2014 is the new government – Florence’s own Mayor Renzi – so read on to see what’s happening in Florence and Tuscany. With best wishes, from SUZANNE, CORSO, BEI, LESLIE, ANNA PIA, VANNI, ANN and MARIO.



In many countries, March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day. In Italy it is known as Festa della Donna and the symbol is the bright yellow mimosa flowers. Fifteen million bunches of mimosa are bought each year to honor the women of Italy. Teresa Mattei, a partisan in WWII, who held the rank of Company Commander in the Garibaldi Youth Front, who, came up with the idea of mimosa for Festa della Donna. It had been proposed that violets be the flower, but she said it should be a flower available, growing wild in March, to the poorest of the poor. She was the youngest person elected to the Constitutional Assembly after the war and was also the national leader of the Union of Italian Women.

Women’s Day has its roots in two events that took place outside of Italy. On March 8, 1857 a strike by garment workers in New York, led to the formation of the first women's union in the United States (ironically, the U.S. is one country that does not celebrate International Women’s Day). Sixty years later Russian women led a strike calling for "bread and peace" during the twin horrors of World War I and the Russian Revolution. In 1945 the Union of Italian Women declared that this special date, March 8, should be set aside to celebrate womanhood across the country.

On March 7, join the Advancing Women Artists Foundation and Syracuse University for a Writers’ Marathon to generate Wikipedia entries spotlighting women artists. On March 8, commemorate the day by joining the Santa Croce in Pink tour, which begins at 10am and costs 25 euro, including a copy of the book Santa Croce in Pink: Untold Stories of Women and their Monuments. Reserve you place: a.lawerence@theflorentine.net or call +39 333868 9458

P&F PICK APARTMENT RENTAL FOR MARCH – Sunny and Modern Near Santa Croce

Via dei Conciatori in the heart of the Santo Croce area takes its name from the ancient Medici dye house which has recently been restructured into modern apartments.

This recently refurbished quiet and sunny apartment, measures approx. 75 square meters, and is located on the third floor (with elevator), and has a living room, kitchen (table for six), two bedrooms (one double and one with twin beds) and two bathrooms (one en-suite with bathtub and hand shower, and one with shower stall and washing machine).

The furniture is a mixture of modern and antique and the floors are terra cotta. There is ample cupboard space in the entrance hall. The apartment has an air conditioning unit in the living room and autonomous gas heating. There are two televisions, telephone and ADSL (internet connection). Maid service is available on request. Kitchenware and linen are provided.

For more information click this link.


March 21–23 at Teatro Verdi, via Ghibellina 99

The UK-based percussion group Stomp use a variety of everyday percussion instruments to create unique music, dance and theatre shows. See the group in Florence for an evening of pop music, the circus and tribal customs. For more information, see www.teatroverdionline.it .


BEST DEAL FOR MARCH – Free Museums for Women

Free Entry for Women! On Friday, March 8 - Women's Day - Italy is offering women free entry into all state-run museums. Florence will also open the city-run museums to women of all ages. So celebrate the wonderful women in your life. Follow tradition and give them a sprig of yellow mimosa, and be sure to also spring for champagne and something glittery or silky.


Eataly has come to Via Martelli near the Duomo in Florence. First a phenomenon in New York and then Bologna, Bari Rome and now Florence. With the great food markets in Florence – Mercato Centrale and San Ambrogio – it is hard to advise someone to go to a place that is so tourist-oriented. But the food is so good. There is a wood-burning forno for bread and that bread comes to your table in the trattoria. There is a wood-burning pizza oven and the pizza is great from the dough to the toppings. The butcher serves up savory raw beef to sliced steak (tagliata) to bistecca alla fiorentina. The soups and pasta kitchen has the traditional ribolita and al dente pasta with specials every day. Wines by the glass and artisanal beers cap off the experience.

In another part of the huge complex is an enoteca with communal tables and its own menu. A restaurant called Leonardo serves up price fixed menus, mostly fish.

BEST MARKET FOR MARCHArts & Crafts Market In A Convent

Take a walk out of the historic center and find a piece of hidden Florentine past with the arts, crafts, and hand-grown products of today. Every month (Sunday, March 9) there is a market in the cloister of an old convent in the San Frediano district, just across the viale from Piazza Tasso.

The Old Convent/SAM Space (arts and craft) is the Fondazione's base. Between 1893 and 1896 the Monastery of Saint Teresa delle Carmelitane Scalze was built. In 1917 the nuns left the convent and the building became a military hospital. In 1920 the building was sold to the Florentine Artistic Society Gusmano Vignali. This was the start of its history tied to art, work, and social history of the San Frediano district. In 1921 the space is sold to Cavalier Paolo Uzielli, who leased the spaces to make workshops of sculpture, engraving, or places for teaching and perfecting artistic handicraft. Many famous artists found a home here: Pietro Annigoni, Agostino Giovannini, Edoardo and Ferdinando Fallaci, among others. Today it's property of the Florence municipality and hosts about 20 workshops.

Vecchio Conventino, Via Giano della Bella 20, Tel: 055 232 2269,

Web Site: http://www.fondazioneartigianato.it/en/come-into-the-convent.html


Thanks to a special cultural project, the Museum of Palazzo Davanzati will be open extra afternoon hours on March 19, & April 16 from 2:30-5:30pm. During these hours visitors can see the ground floor, 1st and 2nd floors and with a guided tour to the 3rd floor at 3pm and 3:30pm.

This is an opportunity for you to visit the house-museum while enjoying live performances. After a long and detailed restoration, the palace re-opened to the public a few years ago and is the most magnificent and only remaining example of a 14th-century residence in Florence.

Reservations are suggested and free by calling 055 2388610 or writing to museo.davanzati@polomuseale.firenze.it. At 4:30 in the courtyard, musical and theatrical performances will be offered:

Wednesday, March 19 at 4:30pm

Sussi e Biribissi di Collodi Nipote


Radiophonic reading performance by Claudio Spaggiari

Wednesday, April 16 at 4:30pm

La Primavera Concert of L’Ensemble MUSICA RICERCATA

Musical program of the XII-XVIII centuries dedicated to Spring

The Museum of Palazzo Davanzati – also known as the Museo dell’Antica Casa Fiorentina – was opened as a State museum in 1956. The impressive facade of the Palazzo, the ancient fourteenth-century residence of the Davizzi family, wealthy merchants and bankers, overlooks the namesake piazza once populated by ancient tower-houses.

The Palazzo was in fact built, around the mid-fourteenth century, through the incorporation of a number of tower-houses and other properties belonging to the Davizzi. However it owes its name to another family, the Davanzati, who purchased it in 1578 and embellished the facade with a large coat of arms representing the crest of the dynasty. The Davanzati lived here up to1838, the year of the tragic death of the last heir Carlo.


In 1904 the Palazzo was purchased by the great antiquarian Elia Volpi, who then opened it as the Museo dell’Antica casa Fiorentina, a stunning example of the exquisitely “Florentine” taste much sought-after by both Italians and foreigners. During the first half of the last century the Palazzo lived through a series of sales, purchases and bankruptcies of antique dealers, until it was bought by the State and opened as a public museum, endowing it with the same character of a reconstruction of a mediaeval house, although the present furnishings consist of works originating from the repositories of the Florentine galleries.


The Museum houses a varied and interesting range of collections: sculptures, paintings, furnishings, majolica, lace etc. The extensive entrance loggia leads into the picturesque courtyard giving access to the upper floors. On each floor the rooms are laid out on an identical plan: the Sala Madornale, occupying the entire length of the facade, the drawing room, the study and the bedroom with open-beamed ceilings and fake upholstery decorations. The domestic quarters – the “agiamenti” (toilets), present on all floors, and the kitchen on the third floor – illustrate the comforts of the noble family that lived in Palazzo Davanzati, a magnificent and singular example of a mediaeval Florentine house. (Source: Polo Museale

Palazzo Davanzati

Via Porta Rossa 13, Florence

Regular hours: Monday-Sunday 8.15am-1.50pm

Closed on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month and on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Monday of the month.

Entrance: 2 € include the museum visit and performances. Ticket office closes at 5:10pm.

Info: www.polomuseale.firenze.it/musei/?m=davanzati

BEST BOOK FOR MARCH – The Venetians: From Marco Polo to Casanova by Paul Strathern

The Republic of Venice was the first great economic, cultural, and naval power of the modern Western world.

After winning the struggle for ascendency in the late 13th century, the Republic enjoyed centuries of unprecedented glory and built a trading empire which at its apogee reached as far afield as China, Syria, and West Africa. This golden period only drew to an end with the Republic’s eventual surrender to Napoleon.

The Venetians illuminates the character of the Republic during these illustrious years by shining a light on some of the most celebrated personalities of European history—Petrarch, Marco Polo, Galileo, Titian, Vivaldi, Casanova. Frequently, though, these emblems of the city found themselves at odds with the Venetian authorities, who prized stability above all else, and were notoriously suspicious of any “cult of personality.” Was this very tension perhaps the engine for the Republic’s unprecedented rise?

Rich with biographies of some of the most exalted characters who have ever lived, The Venetians is a refreshing and authoritative new look at the history of the most evocative of city-states.

BEST BOOK FOR KIDS FOR MARCH – The Mystery of the Mosaic by Harper Paris & Marcos Calo

After arriving in Venice, Ethan and Ella embark on a high-speed gondola chase in the second book of this chapter book series about mystery, travel, and adventure. When Ethan and Ella first land in Venice, they are in awe of all the canals and tiny little streets. They’re especially excited to look for a five-hundred-year-old-mosaic near Calle Farnese that Grandpa Harry tells them about. While the twins are out getting gelato later that day, they notice someone looking around suspiciously as he unties a gondola from a dock.

The next morning, the twins hear two gondoliers arguing, one of them accusing the other of stealing his most beautiful boat. The gondolier begs Ethan and Ella to help him find the boat. They agree, and also tell the man they need to get to Calle Farnese. Will the twins be able to find the stolen gondola and their Grandpa’s favorite mosaic...before dinner? With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Greetings from Somewhere chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.

BEST PARADE FOR MARCH – Florentine New Year

Most of the world parties on January 1st, and the Chinese New Year happens between late January and mid-February, but Florence has its own New Year on March 25 every year. Until 1750, in Florence the beginning of the calendar year fell on March 25 and roughly coincided with the arrival of spring. This date also indicated the day of Christ's conception with the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, exactly nine months before the birth of Jesus. Although the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1502, the Florentines continued to celebrate Capodanno Fiorentino on March 25 for another two centuries and still today, celebrations begin in the early afternoon (3pm), with costumed dignitaries and flag-waving groups parading through the streets of the city carrying the emblem of Florence, a red lily on a white field. The procession starts at the Palagio di Parte Guelfa and continues to the church of the Santissima Annunziata where all the citizens and the authorities pay tribute to the Madonna. A market runs all day in the square outside the church.



For the most over the top fun in February you must leave Florence and go to Viareggio for at least one day of the Viareggio Carnival. (March 2,4, 9). The Viareggio Carnival started in 1873, when a number of local aristocrats decided to organize an extravagant parade on Shrove Tuesday (martedì grasso), before the 40-day austerity of Lent.

The 141st Viareggio Carnival promises to be one of the most exciting yet. There will be five masked parades through the seaside town, each with its own set of papier-mâché floats and puppets, which will parade along the famous viali a mare, down the seaside promenades, offering a wide program of entertainment and fun for children and adults. Bands and other performance groups come from all over the world to participate. At least 800,000 visitors enjoy the Viareggio Carnival each year.

Try to catch the sunniest day you can - Carnival is a drag in the rain. This Tuscan festa simply must be experienced. Pile the gang in a car or onto the train or Lazzi bus and head out for one crazy Sunday afternoon. Enormous floats parade along the boardwalk, peopled by hundreds of locals, dancing in front or animating the float itself. Leave your angst at home, wear clothes you don't care too much about, because it's a given that you'll end up sprayed with foam and sprinkled with confetti. Old, young, and everyone in-between, join in the silliness.

The floats are the true crowd-pleasers. They take an entire year to construct. The biggest floats, over 20 meters high and weighing 40 tons, will carry about 200 people in costume who will dance and throw confetti and candies. Other people will be inside the floats to maneuver the weights, the counter-weights and levers that will make the puppets move. The paper maché puppets satirize public and political figures, depict social issues, as well as fairy-tale heroes.

Noteworthy, is the program of related events including a large number of shows and cultural activities such as musical comedies in vernacular, a series of carnival menus available in the restaurants, festivals in the various neighborhoods, as well as numerous masked balls held in the most fashionable discotheques and ballrooms.

Starting times for parades: 3:00 pm. Ticket: 15 euro. Kids under 10 free, 11 to 13 years: 10 euro. Info: tel. 0584 962568, http://www.viareggio.ilcarnevale.com.


This is a rare chance to view the Boboli citrus collection before the plants are dispersed throughout the gardens for the rest of the year. Each of the plants in the limonaia is descended from a Medici cultivar. From Italy Magazine: ”They include such rare varieties as the Citrus aurantium Canaliculata, introduced in Florence by Francesco I, or the Citrus aurantium bizzarria, which Ferdinando II used to enrich the collection at Boboli. They have a remarkable historic and botanical value.”

The collection features lemons, grapefruits, limes, oranges and more. Entry to Boboli isn’t free for everyone, but once you’re in, access to the limonaia is free – but only on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. For more details and dates:



The name keeps it simple, but from Saturday, March 8 through Monday, March 10, at the Stazione Leopolda, there will be three days of sampling, discovering, buying, and events dedicated to excellence in taste and food lifestyles. TASTE N. 9 is the Italian fair dedicated to good eating and good living attended by the top figures in the international gastronomic and catering trade as well as an increasingly growing public of passionate foodies. Growing in popularity, TASTE N. 9 will present 250 specialist and niche companies presenting their products to the public, as well as the exhibition spaces, which will fill the Alcatraz area of the Stazione Leopolda, with a series of special projects and events. This year, ten food bloggers will write about the events from beginning to end. Check out the interviews with the chosen bloggers on the website.

TASTE N. 8 is an amusing and absorbing experience for members of the gastronomic and catering trade as well as the general public, who can embark on a multi-sensorial journey to discover the myriad ways in which we express and experiment with taste today:

Taste Tour: an itinerary that gives visitors a chance to sample Made In Italy products to learn more about the gastronomic treasures of the country: from cream of black truffle soup to fish matriciana, from Chianti salame to tuna bresaola, from handmade dry egg pasta drawn through gold dies, to Pecorino cheese with saffron, balsamic vinegar chocolates and Taggiasche olive jam;

Taste Tools: view the most modern food and kitchen design utensils, clothing and technical/professional equipment for the table and kitchen;

Taste Shop: a shopping area where you can buy everything that you see and taste during the tour - a kind of department store of exclusive food products; and

Taste Ring: A series of talk shows and meetings with the protagonists of food culture, top experts and VIPs from the world of food, dedicated to the hottest and most curious food lifestyle themes, unexpected combinations between food and the various aspects of social, economic and cultural life.

Start here: http://www.pittimmagine.com/en/corporate/fairs/taste.html

Stazione Leopolda, V.le Fratelli Rosselli, 5. Hours: 1:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (Monday 9.30 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.). Admission: 15 euro. For general information visit:. www.tastefirenze.it (Also click on the link for Fuori di Taste (‘Beyond Taste' but also a pun on fuori di testa or ‘out of your mind') to obtain information about the dozens of events that precede and compliment Taste N. 9.)


PONTORMO AND ROSSO FIORENTINO – Diverging Paths of Mannerism

March 8 – July 20, 2014

Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi – Piazza Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi is hosting a major exhibition entitled Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino. Diverging Paths of Mannerism, devoted to the work of Pontormo (1494-1557) and of Rosso Fiorentino (1494-1540), the two painters who were without question the most original and unconventional adepts of the new way of interpreting art during the Italian Cinquecento which Giorgio Vasari called the ‘modern manner’.

Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino trained under Andrea del Sarto while maintaining a strongly independent approach and enormous freedom of expression. Pontormo, always a favorite of the Medici, was a painter open to stylistic variety and to a renewal of the traditional approach to composition. Rosso Fiorentino, on the other hand, was more tightly bound to tradition, yet at the same time he was fully capable of flights of originality and innovation, influenced also by Cabalistic literature and esoteric works.

This exhibition opts for a broad and multifaceted overview of the two great painters’ masterpieces, exemplifying the formal splendor and lofty poetry of Pontormo and of Rosso Fiorentino so that the exhibition appeals in its clarity not only to the specialist but also to a wider audience thanks to themed sections arranged in chronological order. A unique and unrepeatable event bringing together for the very first time a selection of masterpieces by the two artists in Italian and foreign collections, many of them specially restored for the occasion.

Palazzo Strozzi is in Piazza Strozzi.

Tickets: €11, €9 reduced


Monday to Friday 9.00-13.00, 14.00-18.00

Tel. +39 055 2469600, Fax +39 055 244145, prenotazioni@palazzostrozzi.org

Website: www.palazzostrozzi.org

During the same period, the Palazzo Strozzi unveils Family Matters. Portraits and Experiences of Family Today (CCC Strozzina, 14 March-20 July 2014), which presents the works by contemporary artists that encourage an investigation into the images and dynamics of family in the contemporary world.


The Fulgor makes one of their theaters available for Original Sound movies, seven days a week, three show times a day. Call to find out what is showing in English. Via Maso Finiguerra – Tel. 055 238 1881


Located in Piazza Strozzi. See website for times: http://www.cinehall.it/pagine/odeon%20original%20sound.asp


February 27–March 10

Oscar Award for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor, BAFTA award winner for Best Film and Best Actor, Steve McQueen’s third movie maintains the tradition of excellence established by the director with Hunger and Shame. This is the true story of Solomon Northrup, once a freeman, abducted off the streets of Washington in 1841 and sold into brutal servitude on a Louisiana plantation. A grueling epic of endurance and fortitude in the face of seemingly insurmountable oppression, the images remain long in the mind.


March 11–13 (in Italian with English subtitles)

Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Paolo Sorrentino’s great international success. Amidst the glories and follies of ancient and modern Rome, disenchanted writer Jep observes the vacuousness and decadence of the debauched demimonde. A scathing attack on contemporary Italian culture and an exposure of the numbness and torpidity that age-old political and religious institutions have inculcated in the Italian mind through media manipulation, its referencing particularly of Fellini (La dolce vita, 1960 and Otto e mezzo, 1963) as both homage and parody is its main but by no means its only smartly executed conceit. Everything you wanted to know about post-Berlusconi Italy but were afraid to ask. ‘


March 14–18

A comment on our continuing love affair with technology. Theodore Twombly, heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, makes his living writing letters for other people. He becomes intrigued by and gradually falls in love with ‘Samantha,’ a new, advanced operating system. Set in a very near future with an original and rather enigmatic costume design, Spike Jonze’s important movie steers clear of the almost inevitable crassness of its premise and masterfully tunes into the zeitgeist with telling results.

ORIGINAL LANGUAGE FILMS – Talking Movies at the British Institute

The Talking Movies Series at the British Institute Library: Every Wednesday at 8:00 pm, the Sala Ferragamo in the Institute's Harold Acton Library hosts a film, followed by discussion. The British Institute Library, Lungarno Guicciardini 9. Check the web site at www.britishinstitute.it/en/events/default.asp for times, dates, and detailed information or stop by the library for a brochure.

Luchino Visconti


Nothing sums up better the contradictions, complexities and contentiousness in the character of the gay, Marxist aristocrat Luchino Visconti than his two great movie masterpieces Rocco e i suoi fratelli and Il gattopardo. In both, the disintegration of family life in the face of rapid political and economic change is juxtaposed with a disarmingly indulgent nostalgia for the values and manners of unsustainable traditions embedded in unjust and untenable social systems, be they within the peasantry of Basilicata or the aristocracy of Sicily. This blend of melodrama and realism is dispatched with an intensely felt zeal for genuine social reform based on a trenchant critique of society's ills, but also a feeling of resignation and a sad sense of the powerlessness of individuals to make a difference for themselves or for their successors.

A founding father of Neo-realism, Visconti in his early films embraces that movement's ethics and aesthetics with flair and compassion, but his broad canvas includes costume dramas and historical epics, where the potentially dry narration of historical events is infused with the passion of melodrama, and a languorous pace allows the viewer to take in the details of the meticulous historical recreation. The latter part of Visconti's film career was occupied with slow and beautiful meditations on intimations of mortality. A filmmaker whose grace and intensity, operatic theatricality and passionate commitment to social justice and individual self-realisation makes him one of Italy's most important twentieth-century cultural icons.

Wednesday, March 05, 20.00

Film: IL GATTOPARDO (Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale)


Wednesday, March 12, 20.00

Film: VAGHE STELLE DELL'ORSA (Claudia Cardinale, Michael Craig, Jean Sorel)


Wednesday, March 19, 20.00

Film: LA CADUTA DEGLI DEI (Dirk Bogarde, Ingrid Thulin, Helmut Griem, Helmut Berger)

Wednesday, March 26, 20.00

Film: DEATH IN VENICE (Dirk Bogarde, Silvana Mangano, Bjorn Andresen)



Every Wednesday at 18.00 from September to June there is a lecture, concert or other event in the Sala Ferragamo in the Harold Acton Library followed by an informal drinks reception.

Wednesday, March 05,18.00

Lecture: Julia Lacey Brooke

Julia Lacey-Brooke, who has a new book out on the subject, discusses the Italian influence on the Jacobean drama.

Wednesday, March 12, 18.00

Lecture: Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith, director of the British School at Rome, considers the after-life of the two most famous cities of Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Wednesday, March 19, 18.00

Reading: Matthew Licht and Charles Lambert

Two exciting creative writers, Matthew Licht and Charles Lambert, engage in a kind of literary duel, structured on the theme of memory.

Wednesday, March 26, 18.00

Lecture: James Bradburne

The Canadian architect and museum director James Bradburne, director of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, provides a personal account of his passion for books, reading and book-collecting.


"When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries." Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Afternoon tea is served every Thursday from 16.30 until 18.00 at the British Institute library and features the delicious blends of the local tea house, Tealicious. Open to all. Minimum suggested donation €1.50, which goes towards supporting the library.


March 28-30 in the Cascine Park. Like to bike? The world of two wheels takes center stage at this must-go event for cycling fans. With new products and technologies on display, the chance to test bikes and accessories, bike jumping, exhibition spaces, workshops on bike repair, training sessions, conferences, lectures and a host of events for kids and families, bike owners and enthusiasts are sure to be entertained and discover new possibilities in the world of bicycles. See www.bicifi.it for the full program and to book tickets.


DARKEST GUIDE (eBook and App) FOR FLORENCE – The Dark and Bloody Guide to Florence (La Guida Nera di Firenze) by Stefano Sieni and Mario Spezi

Douglas Preston (author with Mario Sepziof Monster of Florence) writes: I wanted to bring you attention to a new iPad app and e-Book, published a few days ago, called The Dark and Bloody Guide to Florence. I don't think there's a travel app quite like it. Through maps, videos, walking tours, animations and pictures, it guides visitors through some of the most bizarre, harrowing, strange, and gruesome byways of Florentine history going back 2,000 years.

This app surveys the city’s streets and monuments stone by stone, narrating shocking stories related to each place: the horrors endured by gladiators, the slaughters of ancient and modern serial-killers, infamous crimes and assassinations, atrocities committed by judges and torturers, bloody conspiracies, burnings, mob riots, and executions. This is not your usual guidebook -- but then Florence is not your usual city. Despite my rather sensationalistic description, this app contains a great deal of fascinating and serious history.

I contributed the introduction to this app, and it is written by two Italian journalists, Stefano Sieni and Mario Spezi, co-author with me of The Monster of Florence, which spent 14 weeks on the Times bestseller list.

About the Book and App

This e-book is both a history and an interactive guide, a priceless tool for discovering Florence under a new light, or rather an ancient shadow. Special itineraries and maps, accompanied by a wealth of images, original films and animated sequences, guide the reader/visitor step-by-step through a thrilling adventure amid a thousand nightmares that become reality.

Florence, the cradle of art. And of monsters. A black soul breathes behind the "splendid" postcard image that every years attracts millions of tourists from all over the world. A soul made of blood, crime, poisoning, perversion of every kind, diabolical orgies, torture and death. A soul that has always been deemed shameful, furtive and unmentionable, but without which it is impossible to understand the essence of the other side, universally hailed as "splendid".

Only in a place consecrated to excess, for good or for evil, could there exist such a short-circuit between the opposing forces that gave life to the Renaissance and to a marvellous, unique civilization of art and culture. Without that ordinary, day-to-day depravity, without that ever-looming shadow of cruelty and death, such a wealth of masterpieces and geniuses would never have seen the light: from Dante to Leonardo, from Michelangelo to Botticelli. The flowers of evil?

Hence there is a thin red line, never broken, that links ancient madmen and murderers to the monster par excellence, the Monster of Florence, often compared to Jack the Ripper.

Not by chance have me and the expert in crime reporting Mario Spezi have written the best-seller The Monster of Florence, which has been translated the world over and is now being made into a film by Twentieth Century Fox with George Clooney as the star and co-producer.

It is an amazing “spectacle”, virtually unknown, never before presented to the public. Many stories, then, beyond the limits of the incredible and yet true, divided into chapters and subheadings according to a precise itinerary through the quarters of the city on both sides of the Arno. A stroll through horror, accompanied by the sinister shadow of Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula, who, according to some scholars, may have been linked in some way to Florence. This descent into Hell, the real one, includes some of the most shocking, tragic and mysterious crimes.

The Dark and Bloody Guide to Florence (La Guida Nera di Firenze) which you have in hand will take you on a most extraordinary journey into the dark side of Florence, a city which is incapable of producing anything second rate: everything it does and represents is the very best. Including evil”.
Douglas Preston


The Rooms Of The Muses at the Galleria degli Uffizi - 11 February – 11 May 2014

The famed orchestra conductor Francesco Molinari Pradelli (1911-1996), in the course of his numerous travels throughout his professional career, collected baroque art which is housed in the Bologna Molinari Pradelli Collection. This special exhibit is part of Un Anno ad Arte 2014.

Born in Bologna in 1911, he attended the “Gian Battista Martini” music school, studying piano under the guidance of Filippo Ivaldi and orchestra conducting under Cesare Nordio, and completing his musical training in Rome. In 1938, from his very first performances, the press defined him as a “conductor with a glowing future, while Arturo Toscanini commended him as a young man “with talent who will go places”. In Rome, he distinguished himself in conducting concertos with soloists like Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Wilhelm Kempff. In the 1940s, he performed on the podiums of Milan, Pesaro, Trieste, Bologna and Florence, directing in particular, works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner. His international success began with a 1949 tour in Hungary and then on to the most important theatres in Europe and America, with a repertory of thirty-three concertos and twenty-eight operas, from 1938 to 1982.

In the 1950s, the Maestro began to cultivate a growing passion for painting, first for nineteenth-century works, and then discovering an interest for Baroque painting. He developed a very original attraction for still-life, a genre that was just then beginning to garner interest from scholars, in which he combined the pleasure of owning artwork, aesthetic appreciation and the desire for knowledge, stimulated by museum visits in the cities his professional career took him to.

His collection of some two-hundred paintings that in time lined the walls of his Bologna home and later, the Villa at Marano di Castenaso, was admired by the greatest art historians of the XX century, from both Europe and America. As the exhibition documents with a selection of one-hundred paintings, the Maestro rigorously preferred seventeenth- and eighteenth-century painting, collecting works from the various Italian schools.



The Amici della Musica of Florence presents various concerts at the Teatro della Pergola. Works by Haydn, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, and Mendelssohn are only a small sample of what will be performed. See the schedule for concerts at http://www.amicimusica.fi.it/.

Amici della Musica - Concert Season Highlights for March:

March 9 Collaboration with Fundació Centre Internacional de Musica Antiga “Spirito d’Armenia”

March 16 Measha Brueggergosman, soprano

Teatro della Pergola, Via della Pergola, info: 055/609012 – 055 607440 - 055 2264333, and www.amicimusica.fi.it


March 13 at the Nelson Mandela Forum, viale Pasquale Paoli

Renowned Italian singer Elisa performs on the Tuscan leg of her ‘Anima Vola’ tour, with hits from her new album. Some of her most recent songs were written in collaboration with Florentine favourite Ligabue, Tiziano Ferro and Negramaro’s Giuliano Sangiorgi. For more information and tickets, see www.mandelaforum.it .

IRLANDA IN FESTA - The Color and Taste of Ireland

March 13 to 15, starting at 7:30pm, at Saschall promises some good Irish fun. This year the Celtic fair will feature the music of WHISKY TRAIL, MEOGA, MED KELT BAND and THE WEST WIND. Irish culture, food, music and dancing are presented each night. Join the festivities - everyone is a bit Irish at the Irlanda In Festa.

Obihall (ex-Saschall), Lungarno Moro. Admission: 12 to 15 euro. Info: http://www.obihall.it/

Tel. 055 6503068.


March 4 Maria Cassi & the Orchestra della Toscana – Concerto di Carnevale

March 5 Massimo Ranieri Sogno e Son Desto

Teatro Verdi, Via Ghibellina, 99

Info: http://www.teatroverdionline.it/cartellone/musical/my-fair-lady-dal-21-02-13-al-24-02-13.html


Viva la danza! Giorgio Mancini 6 to 12 March

Concert 7 & 8 March: Henrik Nánási, Giuseppe Albanese, Giuseppe Martucci. Music by Pëtr Il'i? ?ajkovskij

Opera 9 to 16 March: “La metamorfosi (Kafka) by Silvia Colasanti

Concert 14 & 15 March: Ryan McAdams, Paolo Marzocchi, Igor Sklyarov with music by Henry Dutilleux, Paolo Marzocchi, and Ludwig van Beethoven

Ticket Office Teatro Comunale

Corso Italia 16 - Firenze - fax: +39 055 287222 Tues. - Fri. 10:00-16:30 & Sat. 10:00-13:00

Tickets on line www.maggiofiorentino.com tickets@maggiofiorentino.com

Not to worry! … Here are a bunch of events or exhibits that will still be happening in late March and April:

NEW EXHIBIT AT THE ACCADEMIA GALLERY – Getting Reacquainted with Michelangelo

Ri-conoscere Michelangelo: Sculpture by Buonarroti in Photographs and Paintings from the XIX Century to the Present

To celebrate the 450th anniversary of the death of Michelangelo Buonarroti, the Galleria dell’Accademia of Florence and Fratelli Alinari I.D.E.A. S.p.A. have collaborated to present an exhibition that validates the complex theme of the renewed interest and admiration for Michelangelo from the 19th century until today. The exhibition highlights the work of sculptors, painters and photographers who have looked to the figure of Buonarroti and his work as the iconographic point of reference in their own work.

The exhibition seeks to highlight the decisive role photography has played in consolidating the critical and iconographic successes of Michelangelo and, as a consequence, the celebration of his myth. Photography has played, since its very origins, an important role in celebrating one of the most renown artists of the Italian Renaissance, with a selection of images of his timeless sculptures as monuments of the collective memory.

Featuring works by Eugène Delacroix and Auguste Rodin, as well as other authors who worked with the then-new photographic medium from its very beginning, including the early work of Eugène Piot, Édouard-Denis Baldus, the Alinari brothers, and John Brampton Philpot, to name only a few. By approaching the content from a contemporary view through the work of other artists, the exhibition analyzes how the photograph was used for documentation, but also as an interpretation tool creating new view points.

Michelangelo’s mastery has been recognized for centuries and can be seen here in the work of 20th-century artists such as Henri Matisse, Carlo Mollino, as well as in the more recent photographic studies from Herbert List, Horst P. Horst, Helmut Newton, Frank Horvat, Youssef Nabil, and many more.

Want more Michelangelo? Through April, the Museo Casa Vasari in Arezzo has the exhibition The Relationship Between Michelangelo and Vasari in his Letters and Drawings, while the Casa Buonarroti in Florence will host two exhibitions about this great artist, The Power of Myth – The Plans for the Facade of San Lorenzo in Florence 1900-1905 (March 18 – June 2, 2014) and Michelangelo and the Twentieth Century (June 18 – October 20, 2014).


March 22 –June 29

Palazzo Blu, Lungarno Gambacorti 9, Pisa

Discover the many unexpected blunders covered up by the science world. The exhibit Lies in Science explores the inevitability of mistakes accompanying the thirst for knowledge in the science world; after all, being wrong is a part of science. Visit www.palazzoblu.it for more information.

MUVE - Museum of Glass in Empoli

Located in the picturesque surroundings of the ancient Salt Store, restored for the occasion, the Museum of Glass in Empoli (Museo del Vetro di Empoli – MUVE) was inaugurated in July 2010. The exhibition is spread over two floors, running through the history of glass production in Empoli, already active in the fifteenth century, but flourishing since the mid-18th century and especially in the 19th century, thanks also to the strategic position of Empoli on the way from Florence to Pisa, connected by the railway by the middle of the century.

Common objects, such as flasks, carboys and bottles, are on display along with tools, documents, photographs and advertising images that illustrate the changes in the production of glass in the area. On the second floor, interesting pieces of artistic glass reflect the fine craftmanship of Tuscany glassworkers in the 20th century. The tour is then enriched by evocative visual and sound effects designed to recreate the atmosphere of historic glasswork.

Address: Empoli, via Ridolfi, 70-74

Tel:0571 76714

Opening Hours:From Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m.-7.00 p.m. Closed on Monday.

Tickets:Full price: € 3.00; half-price ( groups min. 15 persons): € 1.50; reduced (EU citizens under 18 and over 65, Every Sunday, from 15 to 19, free admission.


TORITA DE SIENA – Celebrate with the Donkey Races

In Torrita di Siena, on Sunday after St. Joseph's Day(March 19th), the original (although not the only one in Italy) Palio dei Somari (Race of Donkeys) takes place as usual every year. Sunday, March 23 the eight districts in which the town is divided compete against each other with the donkeys assigned each by a drawing. The race will take place in a place called Gioco del Pallone, just outside the city walls. The district (contrada) winner will win the palio (banner).

The race will be preceded by a week of celebrations. Saturday, March 15 there will be a Medieval market della Nencia and il will be opened four "taverns" (old restaurants) managed by the same districts offering some Tuscan specialties (such as pici and Chianina steak). Sunday 16, Festa della Bandiera (Flag Day) where flag wavers and drummers from all over Italy compete.

On Friday, March 21 "cene propiziatorie" (propitiatory dinners) will be held by each district.

On Saturday, March 22, Medieval Banquet of the Spring and in the night Race in pairs between drummers and flag-wavers of the eight districts.

On Sunday, March 23 SS. Mass in the Church of S.S. Flora and Lucilla, historical parade, and finally the Palio donkeys race at 4 p.m.


TARTUFO MARZUOLO – Certaldo & San Giovanni d’Asso

Get your fill of March white truffles at the 21st Sagra del Tartufo Mazuolo in Certaldo from March 14 to 16 and 21 to 23. Or go to the 12th edition of the truffle festival at San Giovanni d’Asso on the 8th and 19th. Or take in both because truffle season doesn’t return until next fall.


Fashion designer Gianfranco Ferré was known as ‘the architect of fashion’ due to his unique ways of designing. This exhibition of 27 white shirts, sketches and videos explores the genius and creativity of Ferré. Until June 15 Museo del Tessuto, Via Puccetti 3, Prato

For more information: www.museodeltessuto.it .


Tuscan Traveler’s Italian Food Rules written by Ann Reavis has been published! Find a copy at The Paperback Exchange at Via delle Oche, 4r, or at BM Bookshop, Borgo Ognissante, 4 or at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.it.

ITALIAN LIFE RULE: Shutters of a Certain Color

Want to paint your Florentine shutters red or yellow? This is absolutely illegal under the code of the Belle Arti, the governing body of all aspects of historical buildings in Florence to have shutters of just any color. All buildings inside the now mostly absent 16th century walls of the city are deemed to be historical.

Shutters in Florence and Tuscany, as well as some other regions in Italy, can only be dark brown, black, dark gray or dark green. Any other color or lighter shade of one of the allowed hues is deemed out of compliance. A homeowner can expect a registered letter in the mail demanding change on threat of a substantial fine.

Shutters are important to the smooth running of Italian life. Not the color, just the use of shutters. Only Americans and the British throw open their shutters and windows on a sweltering summer day in hopes of catching a stray breeze. (As in “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun.” (Noel Coward).)

The Italians know that windows and shutters must be closed by 9am to hold in the night’s coolness and then at sunset they must be opened throughout the house to cambiare l’aria (change the air) throughout the night. Of course, the window in the bedroom will be closed as the occupants retire to prevent the dreaded draft (colpo d’aria) from striking the exposed necks of unwary sleepers. In the morning the process starts again.

The other kind of window shutter, the heavy rolling wood or metal blind, known as an avvolgibile, is found on most modern buildings (less than 100 years old) and provide the same service for standardized windows. (They are also better at denying entry to cat burglars.)

The lack of standardized window frames make traditional wooden shutters a common sight in the historic cities of Italy, but also prevents the use of screens to deny entry of the ever-present mosquitos. Itching tourists frequently complain about why even a five star hotel can’t figure out how to install window screens.

However those same tourists love the standardization of architectural artifacts, such as terracotta roofs and pale golden painted walls. It helps reinforce the cliché of Florentine and Tuscan style. But perhaps it would be better for Florence and the Florentines to take a risk and flaunt bright yellow, blue or even red and white striped shutters.


Invitation to Newsletter Readers & Friends:

The Pitcher & Flaccomio Newsletter would like to invite readers and friends of readers to submit announcements of upcoming events that may be of interest to visitors and residents of Florence and Tuscany, provide shopping tips, and/or comments on what’s “right” or “wrong” in Florence (or the Newsletter). We can’t promise to put every announcement in the newsletter, but we appreciate your support, interest and messages.

Please send an email to info@pitcherflaccomio.com or newsletter@pitcherflaccomio.com .


Spend you March honoring women.

All the best,

Pitcher and Flaccomio