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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

The month of April in Italy was marked by the news of the Abruzzo earthquake. In the last couple days, a few of the tentopolis dwellers were allowed to move back into the first homes deemed safe. Many others remain in tent villages. Our thoughts are with them and below, you will find suggestions from Democrats Abroad Florence on how to be of help.

Our Tuscan spring is arriving “piano piano” this year. But the seemingly equal parts of sun and rain must be a great recipe for blazingly vibrant greens and knockout purples; wisteria, redbud, iris, even tiny blue-violet rosemary blossoms are all in full bloom.

In this issue we cover the fabulous Mille Miglia vintage car rally, plus sport and artisan events, food and flower fairs, movies, lectures and more. Thanks to Simon and Anne for their mention of a great Jazz festival, some gelato news and their overview of the Ligabue exhibition Pontassieve.

Springtime good tidings from SUZANNE, CORSO, SANDRA, LORI, ANNA PIA, KIMBERLY and MARIO.


We are saddened and concerned for the victims of the earthquakes in Abruzzo and have received many requests for information on how to assist those in need. Below you will find a list with contact information to make a contribution or volunteer.
With sincere thanks, Kristina Paccione, Secretary, Democrats Abroad Florence. www.democratsabroad.org. “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” ~ Oscar Wilde

DONATIONS - Via phone to tel. 48580. In collaboration with the Dipartimento della Protezione Civile, Tim, Vodafone, Wind and 3 Italia have activated a special number to collect funds for the earthquake victims. Each SMS sent to 48580 will contribute 1 euro. Calls from Telecom Italia fixed lines will contribute 2 euro. Monetary donations can be made directly to the Italian Red Cross and Caritas Italiana:
- Post Office using Conto corrente bancario n. 218020 presso: Banca Nazionale del Lavoro - Filiale di Roma Bissolati - Tesoreria - Via San Nicola da Tolentino 67 - Roma made out to Croce Rossa Italiana Via Toscana, 12 - 00187 Roma;
- Wire transfer to Croce Rossa Italiana, via Toscana 12 - 00187 Roma, Causale: pro terremoto Abruzzo using one of the following IBAN accounts: IT66 - C010 0503 3820 0000 0218020 or Codice Iban: IT24 - X076 0103 2000 0000 0300 004;
- Online at www.cri.it/donazioni.html
- Post Office C/C POSTALE N. 347013
- Wire transfer to Caritas Italiana, UNICREDIT BANCA DI ROMA S.P.A. IBAN IT38 K03002 05206 000401120727. (causale "TERREMOTO ABRUZZO")
THE OFFICE FOR THE DISABLED in Montesilvano has put out a call for wheelchairs and crutches for the disabled and elderly. Contact info can be found on their website: www.ufficiodisabili.it
VOLUNTEERING: THE DIPARTIMENTO DELLA PROTEZIONE CIVILE asks that volunteers work exclusively through the following organizations:
* Associazione Nazionale Pubbliche Assistenze (ANPAS); www.anpas.org
* Confederazione Nazionale delle Misericordie; www.misericordie.org
* ARCI Servizio Civile, nelle sue componenti PROCIV ARCI e Legambiente; www.arciserviziocivile.it
* Croce Rossa Italiana. www.cri.it
Volunteers from anywhere in Italy can contact the Protezione Civile at tel: 06.68201. For further information on offers of assistance, send an email to consultavolontariato@forumterzosettore.it
OFFERS OF HOUSING: If you have friends with summer homes or apartments in Abruzzo who can assist with housing, offers can be made to: PROTEZIONE CIVILE DELLA REGIONE ABRUZZO Tel: 800861016 and 800860146. Student organizations are searching for accommodations: Tel 06.43411763, write to organizzazione@udu.it and giovanixlaquila@gmail.com or visit www.udu.it and www.retedeglistudenti.it. You can also write to consultavolontariato@forumterzosettore.it or call the Movimento Italiano Genitori at 800.090.119 which has set up a call center in collaboration with the Ministero dell'Interno.

From May 9 to 31, Italy hosts the historic 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia, one of the world's most famous cycling events. To celebrate, organizers of the three-week race have prepared a special route this year passing through many of Italy's major cities, from the first day’s team time trial along Venice's beach front, to the last day’s individual race against the clock in Rome.
Lance Armstrong has confirmed that he will participate, a first for Armstrong in the Italian classic, considered cycling's second-most important race after the Tour de France. Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen also confirmed his spot. Tuscany (and Liguria) will be the theatre of events on Thurs. 21(Cinque Terre), Fri. 22 (from Lido di Camaiore to Florence) and Sat. 23 (from Campi Bisenzio, to finish in Bologna). Info: www.ilgiroditalia.it.

On Sat. 16, listen for the roar of powerful motors and the applause of the crowd as Tuscany hosts a leg of the fabulous Mille Miglia vintage car rally. Towns like Pienza, Montalcino, Castellina, Panzano, Greve, Impruneta, Florence, Vaglia and Barberino will become a moving car museum.
Eighty years after its inception, the Mille Miglia epitomises the passion people hold for cars in the pursuit of adventure, excitement and discovery. It is also the easiest and most fun vintage car show ever attended. You can sit in one spot and enjoy the noisy, colourful show going by. This year more than 380 automobiles are registered including Alfa Romeos, BMWs, Aston Martins, Maseratis, Jags, Ferraris and more; each beauty from 30 to 80 years old. On Saturday, watch for the classic Freccia Rossa sign (a red arrow with 1000 Miglia written on it) marking the route, and find yourself a good observation spot. The rally should hit Pienza at 10:00 am, Montalcino at 10:30, they are expected in Piazza del Duomo of Siena at 11:00, 1:00 in Castellina-in-Chianti, Panzano around 1:30, and 2:00 in Florence, then on to Vaglia and Barberino di Mugello.
The first cars in Florence will travel along Via San Felice a Ema, Viale del Poggio Imperiale, Viale Torricelli, Piazzale Galileo and Viale Macchiavelli. They will enter the historical centre at Porta Romana, Piazza della Calza, Via Romana, Piazza San Felice, Via Maggio, Piazza Frescobaldi, Ponte a Santa Trinità, Lungarno degli Acciaioli, Via Por Santa Maria, Via Vacchereccia, Piazza della Signoria, Via dei Calzaioli, Piazza San Giovanni, Via de’ Martelli, Via Cavour, Piazza San Marco, Piazza Libertà, Via Don Minzoni, Via G. Pascoli, Ponte Rosso, and out along the SS 65 Via Bolognese. It was Enzo Ferrari who defined it "the world's greatest road race". From the starting line in Brescia, to the much-awaited appointment with Rome, and finishing with arrival back in Brescia, the Mille Miglia rally meets the enthusiasm of the cities it passes through and the fervour of the crowds lining the streets.

The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino programme for the season features the last work in the Ring cycle, Götterdämmerung - with the award-winning pair Mehta–Fura dels Baus. Mehta again, directs the complete set of Beethoven’s Concertos for Piano and Orchestra. The oldest music festival in Italy, and one of the most famous, the Maggio Musicale in Florence was founded in 1933 and features two months of opera and concerts (see ONSTAGE SELECTIONS below). For full details of the programme, please visit the Maggio Musicale website. http://www.maggiofiorentino.com

Wednesday, May 6 - Thrift Shop: 10am-noon. Location: Undercroft. Please join us for this monthly 'happening' where you can find the best bargains in Florence! Gently-used clothing, books, toys, household items and more... All proceeds from the sale are divided between the Food Bank and a local shelter run by Mother Theresa's nuns.
Friday, May 8 - Second Looks at Favorite Books. 6:30 pm. Location: Rectory. Second Looks at Favorite Books will meet in the Rectory to discuss Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (Square Fish edition). Copies are available at Paperback Exchange. Contact requaintance@aol.com for more information.
Sunday, May 10 - Music at St. James presents The Barber of Seville. 8:30pm. Admission: 25 euro for adults; 15 euro for students, seniors and Amici di St James.
Saturday, May 16 - Music at St. James presents La Boheme. 8:30pm. Admission: 25 euro for adults; 15 euro for students, seniors and Amici di St James.
Saturday, May 16 - HEALTH FAIR AT ST. JAMES - 2:00pm-6:00pm. Location: St. James undercroft. Information and sample treatments will be available for chiropractic, massage, shiatsu, yoga and more! Natural products and snacks will be available on sale, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit our Food Bank.
Sunday, May 17 - Malawi Children's Project Benefit Lunch - 12:30. Location: undercroft. Please join us for a parish lunch to benefit our mission in Malawi, directly following our 11am service. St. James has a long relationship with a school in a Malawian village. We have contributed to the building of the school, to the digging of a well and are now committed to assisting the village with putting a roof on the building. Haswell Beni will be speaking at this luncheon about life in one of the poorest countries in the world, and how our church can help. Free-will donations will be collected - suggested minimum €5 per person, but more is better!
Sunday, May 17 - GOSPEL EVENSONG - 6:30pm. Nehemiah H. Brown and the Florence Gospel Choir will provide musical offerings during this very special worship service. Come, and make a joyful noise to the Lord!
Friday, May 22 - Ostrava Choir Concert. 6:00pm. Location: Church. The concert will be followed by a reception to meet the artists. Contact info@riccardofoti.it for more information.
Saturday, May 23 - Music at St. James presents Tosca 8:30pm. Admission: 25 euro for adults; 15 euro for students, seniors and Amici di St James.
Sunday, May 24 - Gala Inaugural Festival for our New Willis Organ – from 2:00-9:00pm - come and go as you please. St James now has the finest new organ in Europe, and we will celebrate this amazing instrument and its creator, Henry Willis & Sons in Liverpool, in an afternoon of music with some of the organ world's preeminent performers, including David Hurd and Gregory Eaton from New York City, Frederic Blanc from Paris, and others to be announced. Music begins at 2:00pm, and continues until 5:30, when an aperitivo in the Rectory Garden will be enjoyed by all. At 7:30, the Samford University Choir will perform. Admission is free, but an offering will be taken.
Monday, May 25 - An Evening of Chopin with Wen-Yee Ho. 9:00pm. Location: Church. Music at St. James is proud to present Wen-Yee Ho in concert. Don't miss what promises to be an unforgettable evening.
Sunday, May 31 - Car Wash to Benefit our Sunday School Program. Time: directly following our 11am service. Location: Front garden. Buy your tickets after the Sunday service -- even if you don't intend to have your car washed, even if you don't HAVE a car! 5 euro each.
Every Wednesday evening through May 13: Student Dinners at 6:30pm. Location: St. James undercroft. Every Wednesday evening in our undercroft, American university students from study abroad programs throughout Florence gather for a short Italy-related presentation followed by a full-course meal - all for just €5! Gates open at 6:30pm. Great food, great company. Bring a friend!
Every Thursday morning through June 25: Spice Lab - 11:30-1:30. Location: St. James kitchen. Treat your taste buds to a world tour! Indian and Thai cooking classes. Cook first, eat later! Babysitting available. 25 euro, lunch included. Contact Melanie at spicelab@live.it or call 3454087209.
Tuesdays and Fridays through June 26: Watercolor Course. Time: 9:30-12:30. Location: St. James choir loft and various sites in Florence and Tuscany. This course is designed to introduce the student to the different aspects of drawing and painting in the open field, regardless of previous experience or level of technical capability. The approach to teaching is academic utilizing practical as well as traditional methods, therefore the course will commence with an introduction to basic drawing, concurrent to the capability and development of each student's skill in observing and rendering. The instructor is Robert B. Reed. Please reserve your place by contacting robert-b-reed@libero.it or calling 3496790358.
The church is always looking for volunteers to help out and get to know people in a variety of ways, as well as people who just love fun, food, singing, friends and service to the world. Visit our website at www.stjames.it or join us on facebook -- St. James American Church!

FOOTBAAAALLL!! by Simon Clark and Anne Brooks
Facci Largo Roma!......”April is the cruellest month” It’s a little-known fantasy that T S Eliot was alluding to the football season. This month, we’ve been honing our brink-person-ship skills but, looking to May, the only show in town is the duel with Genoa for that fourth Champions League spot - following our contemptuous whipping of the mighty Roma, Francesco Totti and all:

April’s Results
Week 30: Atalanta-Fiorentina
WON 1-2
Week 31: Fiorentina-Cagliari
WON 2-1
Week 32: Udinese-Fiorentina
LOST 3-1
Week 33 Fiorentina-Roma
!!! WON 4-1 !!!

Serie A. To Atalanta in week 30, praying it’s a happy hunting ground for Prandelli, former player and coach there. Even for the first half but they went ahead just after the break; we got a penalty, they lost a player as the referee waved his red card and Jovetic scored from the spot (his first Serie A goal - the keeper nearly saved but that didn’t dampen Jovetic’s delight). Then it was all Viola, near miss after near miss, nails bitten to the quick until Gilardino produced a trademark last-gasp tap-in; 2-1 to us and a tricky fixture survived. Then a home game against a Cagliari who could still make the Europa League. We’ll be missing Mutu for a month but it’s a key week and the deal is this – we win, Juventus beat Genoa and we climb into the prized 4th spot!
The first half was all Viola. Dainelli and Gamberini were the best central defensive pairing in Europe, squeezing hope, ambition and life out of their attack; at the other end, Gila & Co peppered the Cagliari goal – but the half-time score was 0-0. After the restart, Pasqual slotted in his first goal in three years, smacked in from the edge of the penalty area. Cagliari promptly had a man sent off; he’d been mauling Gila all game and deserved to walk. A goal up and playing ten men, we went to pieces! Suddenly, our defence wore boots of lead; Cagliari missed an open goal; Frey had to make three critical saves within five minutes. Then a brilliant counter swept up the pitch and Vargas struck his first Serie A goal. We are home & dry, 2-0 up and only nine minutes to go. Huh! We gift a goal to the Sardinians; we stood and watched! Another red card; we are playing nine men who seem to know more about the game of calcio than we do!. Tense but we hung on to the points. Later, Genoa changed the script, beating Juventus 3-2 to stay ahead of us; they looked alarmingly good! Roma lose and drop further behind.
The final stages of this championship are not for the faint-hearted. Week 32 took us to Udinese, dumped out of the UEFA Cup by Werder Bremen. This is a BIG ONE; Genoa lost the previous evening but we’ve a long list of injuries (savaged by the opposition) and suspensions (who should have known better); the squad is a little patchwork. How better to get going than to watch a superb solo opening goal for Udinese in the tenth minute! This was just to put ourselves on the back foot before the referee gave then a penalty and a second goal. We were under the cosh. Dainelli headed in to put us back in the game but Udinese produced a top-class free kick for a 3-1 win; once behind, we weren’t quite good enough. A bad week; we failed to capitalise on Genoa’s slip and Roma gobbled up the deficit to lie three points behind us. From a different angle, the results meant “no change” – it’s still us, Genoa and Roma for that fourth spot. But week 33 is looking more and more critical…..
…Week 33. At home. Roma! No trouble! Prandelli & Corvino have assembled a squad who, when they get it right, get it very right indeed. We eviscerated Roma to the tune of 4-1. Some may argue that the game was closer than the score suggests but they are kidding themselves; the effective football came from Fiorentina. When we shot, the ball tended to finish up in the net; when Roma tried, they shot wide, Frey was a bomb-proof wall or Gamberini, Dainelli & Co were in the right place. Montolivo was brilliant, Jovetic outstanding (deserving his standing ovation), Vargas a diamond and Gilardino played like Roberto Baggio; the rest of the team were merely fabulous.
Vargas, relishing a shift into midfield, opened the scoring with a 30-metre thunderbolt after 6 minutes. Clocked at 109 kph, it looked faster. For the rest of the first half, with chances at both ends, it was Fiorentina who had the bit between their teeth – Roma looked as though they knew The Force was not with them and the second half was ours. Just after the break, a superb team move flowed from a Jovetic volley to a perfect Semioli cross to Gilardino leaving three defenders for dead as he nodded in for 2-0. Roma were not reacting well to the pressure; Pizarro was red-carded after an hour. Experience has taught us how to handle a ten-man opposition. On 67 minutes, Gila’s delicate control (shades of Roby Baggio) bamboozled Roma’s punch-drunk defenders and it’s 3-0. Six minutes later and it’s 4-0; Artur, in the Roma goal, parried Gila’s hat-trick-bound header but Gobbi fired the rebound into the net. Some Roma players were still trying and the energetic Baptista fired in a solo consolation goal but it was all over long before that. We were awesome! The icing on the cake was an away defeat for Genoa at Bologna – their second defeat in a row. If Genoa are running out of form at the same time as we realise our potential, then April’s final cut of cruelty is aimed at Genoa, not Viola!
Five more games. We’ve seen off Roma; it’s us or Genoa - one gets the Champions League, the other the Europa League. We have three at home, four against teams we might expect to beat. We host Torino (whom we beat 4-1 away earlier in the season), travel to Catania (form drooping), entertain Sampdoria (another away win but that was before we gave them Pazzini) and visit Lecce, the second-bottom team but to whom we contrived to lose a while ago. Then the last – possibly crucial - game of the season at home to the superstars of Milan, superstars who edged a 1-0 lucky victory back when. We can never write off Roma but it looks as though April’s cruelty fell most harshly on Genoa!....Forza Viola!
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. SPOTIVA 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

Week 34: (Florence): 3 May: Fiorentina-Torino
Week 35 10 May: Catania-Fiorentina
Week 36: (Florence): 17 May: Fiorentina-Sampdoria
Week 37: 24 May: Lecce-Fiorentina
Week 38: (Florence): 31 May: Fiorentina-Milan

GLASGOW INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL - (Word from the editor: we know Glasgow is not in Tuscany, but we merit this festival is well worth knowing about).
“Jazz” is more than you think it can be; jazz in Scotland is something special. Anyone considering taking a break in Britain and exploiting the UK’s currency weakness might want to think about hitting Glasgow in June. From the 19th to the 30th, one of the United Kingdom’s top jazz festivals (the other one happens in London) amazes in its 23rd year with the distinctive atmosphere of the Merchant City area.
There’s something for everyone. Top of the bill, we have Chick Corea’s only UK gig on his current world tour; veteran John Mayall for blues fans; the evergreen Neil Sedaka. Hear Kyle Eastwood leading his band and talking about composing for his dad’s films; enjoy an Italian connection as Tommy Smith and Arild Anderson get together with Paolo Vinaccia. We have sax legend Bobby Wellins, Andy Shepherd with Kuiljit Bhamra and Art Themen guesting with the BBC Big Band. There’s the Young Jazz Musician of the Year plus last year’s winner, Joe Wright, playing with Julian Arguilles. Our Homegrown Showcase contains a treasure trove of fresh names like Ryan Quigley, Colin Steels and Paul Towndrow – see them before they go global. And if you’ve any late-evening energy left, take in the James Taylor Quartet, Bugge Wesseltoft or MOBO winner Yolanda Brown. Check it out on www.jazzfest.co.uk (There are inexpensive flights available between Glasgow and both Pisa and Florence airports.)

We invite your comments for our “Readers Review Restaurants” section. Use this forum to spread the word about restaurants that merit recognition for their great food and good service. The contents will reflect our reader’s points of view (though we reserve the right to agree or disagree). Send your input to newsletter@pitcherflaccomio.com.

GELATO: AN OCCASIONAL PROMENADE by Simon Clark and Anne Brooks
Italian ice-cream is not a summer confection; it’s a food and therefore a part of life. Like all Italian foods, you can – if you wish – consume the mass-produced variety or you can seek out the craftspeople who may be making it on (propria produzione) or off (artigianale) the retail premises. As with all Italian craft-foods, everyone has their own ideas of where to get the best. It is true that Tre Scalini in Rome produces chocolate gelato from heaven but we would argue that, as a general principle, the real ice-cream you can buy in Firenze is as good as gelato gets.
Far be it from us to suggest a “best shop” [that sounds like a Pitcher-Flaccomio competition in the making] but, if you were visiting an exhibition at the Fortezza or lounging in Piazza Independenza, you wouldn’t go wrong with either of these, both just northwards of the entrance to the Fortezza:

• ALPINA [Viale Filippo Strozzi 12R. Tel 055 496 677.] Founded by Virgilio Arnoldo in 1929, still in the family and still adored by Florentines. The really sweet-toothed should know that they make their own chocolates as well as ice cream. The gelato is brilliant - smashing, smoky crema, tangy yoghurt, superb pannacotta, interesting pinolata and a chocolate well up to city standards. They close on Christmas and New Year’s Days, for a holiday in the middle of August and on Tuesdays. Otherwise, they open from 07.00-21.00 in winter and 07.00-24.00 in the summer;

• RE DE GELATO [Viale Filippo Strozzi 8R. Tel 055 495 939.] By way of contrast – in more ways than one – a relatively new enterprise (but swiftly establishing a formidable reputation). A block south of Alpina, formerly a branch held by the Robiglio family (who still have a cafe over the road). Open every day, from noon to 20.00, think of this as a piece of Sicily in the city; not only do we have ice cream but Sicilian cannoli and other delicacies. For the gelato, drool over those citrus flavours and dream of the south!

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 Suzanne,
I have to write a quick note of gratitude for your excellent newsletter. I always read it immediately when it arrives in my mailbox. You have accomplished a writing style and format which gives me an good "month-at-a-glance" knowledge of events and programs. It is essential reporting and easy to read - not a simple task! Complimenti e buon lavoro.
Cindy Wilson D'Alimonte

RECIPE OF THE MONTH - Carciofi Fritti (fried artichokes) by Judy Witts Francini
8 small, young artichokes
2 eggs, beaten with pinch of salt
1/2 cup flour
Oil for frying
Clean artichokes. Place in a bowl of water and lemon juice to prevent turning black. Remove from water, dry, and place in a bowl. Add the beaten eggs and salt. Stir to cover well. Add flour to artichokes and mix well. Place one by one in hot oil. Fry until golden. Season with salt and serve with lemon wedges.
Judy’s first book of recipes is just out: Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen - www.divinacucina.com/code/secrets.html



Until May 20th , don’t miss the Iris Garden off a nearly hidden corner of Piazzale Michelangelo. This is your chance to visit one of Florence’s loveliest undiscovered treasures, where nearly 3,000 iris, collected and nurtured over the last 50 years by the Italian Iris Society, blast into bloom each May.
The iris’ link to Florence goes way back. The white iris against a red background was the city’s symbol until 1250 when the Guelph party came to power. To emphasise that a political change had occurred in Florence, the Guelphs inverted the colour scheme: the white iris became bright red on a white field, creating the city’s coat-of-arms, still used today.
Piazzale Michelangelo. Open daily including Sundays, 10:00 am - 12:30 pm, 3:00 – 7:00 pm. info: 055 483112 www.irisfirenze.it. Free entrance.

Until Sunday 17, the entire region of Tuscany offers a special series of hours, visits and openings in museums and historical workshops. From Siena, to Arezzo, Prato, Pisa, Lucca and beyond, civic and sacred art museums in tiny towns, ancient flour mills, villas and churches will open their doors to the public for a peek at their hidden treasures. Consult the site www.turismo.intoscana.it for indepth information abou the province that interests you most.

From Thurs. 7 to Sun. 10 enjoy a stroll through the Boboli Garden’s Orto della Botanica Inferiore, smelling the scents and perfumes of flowers and all things flowery. This will be the third edition of the Flower and Scent show and Market, featuring cosmetics, essential oils, soaps and candles plus food, drinks and bling for the home. Entry to the show includes visits to the Garden, the Silver museum, Costume museum and Porcelain museum, and to the Bardini Gardens.
Boboli Garden, Orto della Botanica Inferiore. Open 1:30 to 6:30 pm Thursday, open 9:30 to 6:30 pm the other days.

On Sun. 10, starting at 9:30 am in Piazza del Duomo, take part in the 37th edition of the Guardafirenze marathon/walkathon. There will be a 3, a 6 and a 10 km route, each of which “meanders” through historical downtown Florence. The paths all start and end at the Duomo, touching on Porta Romana, Piazza della Signoria, the Ponte Vecchio and even allowing for the drop dead view from Piazzale Michelangelo. Sign-ups open until May 8. For further info contact: Firenze Marathon, Tel: 055/5522957, email: staff@firenzemarathon.it

From Fri. 15 to Sun. 17, the Corsini Garden on Via della Scala will once again host a myriad of artisans and their wares. This fair does not feature simple kiosks where you can view and purchase the final products, but it aims to show, to tell, to demonstrate the steps involved in producing some of the world’s finest crafts. Over 80, carefully chosen master craftsmen and women, from Tuscany, Italy and beyond, gather in this the 15th edition. You will meet furniture restorers, cameo and mosaic makers, silk weavers, a Japanese ceramicist, soap makers, bijoux creators. Should you wish to linger, you can dine in an open-air restaurant, or enjoy afternoon tea in one of the prettiest, hidden gardens of town. Well worth a visit.
Giardino Corsini. Via della Scala 117. Open 10:00 am to 8:30 pm. Ticket: 8 euro. www.artigianatoepalazzo.it

From Tues. 5 to Sat. 23 Florence once again turns the focus on intercultural contemporary exchange through a series of events and projects involving artists from Europe, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and more. This is an investigation into the intercultural dialogue made possible by art. On stages represented by music, dance, theatrical events, installations, workshops and meetings between artists and professionals from more than 20 countries, Fabbrica Europa seeks common roots, encounters and clashes, exchanges and migrations. The events will take place at Stazione Leopolda and other spaces. Viale Fratelli Rosselli 5, Porta al Prato. Open 7:00 pm to 1:00 am. Admission ranges from 10-20 euro. Visit www.fabbricaeuropa.net for the latest info on scheduling and locales.

From May 15 to May 24 celebrate centuries of Florentine genius with one hundred events planned in the name of Il Genio Fiorentino by the Province of Florence. This year’s theme is “Genius we are born. We become original.” See how various locales carry this out by watching for evening fun at Il Rifrullo on Via San Niccolò, Dolcevita on Piazza del Carmine, Moyo on Via dei Benci, ChiaroScuro on Via del Corso and Negroni on Via dei Renai. The Genio Fiorentino schedule offers a truly mixed calendar of events divided into 12 categories: from art to film, from music to science, from history to innovations, including a series of events designed to uncover the city “by night”.
Among the happenings planned this year the Genio Fiorentino with show homage to Francesco Nuti with a day ( May 23rd) dedicated to the actor/director including a book inauguration “Francesco Nuti: the true story of a great talent”. Art events include the exhibition “Clemente VII and Florence. Faith, politics and art from 1513 to 1543” (May 24), featuring the famed Medici Pope. Also scheduled (May 16) the rediscovery of a Florentine musical genius, Giovanni Battista Lulli, with performances from the comedy-ballet by Lulli-Moliere by the Orchestra Barocco Modo Antiquo.
Dedicated to Leonardo’s Gioconda, a conference in which scholars and artists will compare their ideas about the Vinci exhibition that will touch on the origins, the fortune and the mysteries of the Mona Lisa. Even the Divine Comedy makes a show of itself with “And all of a sudden …Dante: 100 songs for Florence”, with more than 600 performers spouting Dante around the city. “The genius in places of faith” (May 15-24) offers the opening of some of the most beautiful Florentine churches during the evening. For further information about the events: http://www.geniofiorentino.it/.

Tuesday 19, author Salman Rushdie will present his new novel The Enchantress of Florence at the Palagio di Parte Guelfa. Rushdie’s work presents the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It is the story of two cities, at the height of their powers–the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which Akbar the Great wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence during the High Renaissance, where Niccolò Machiavelli takes a starring role as he learns, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. Palagio di Parte Guelfa, Via Pelliceria. 6:00 pm.

Sat. 23 come enjoy a great show and competition in Piazza della Signoria, between Italy’s best “sbandieratori” flag bearing teams. The “Sbandieratori del Corteo Storico della Repubblica Fiorentina” are hosting this trophy challenge, and are integrally connected to the history of Florence. They carry flags which once represented the principal magistracies and legal offices of the powerful 16th century Florentine Republic. Their competitions involve originality and stunning performances. The origin of flag waving is found in the job of the flag-bearer in ancient militaries. These flag-waving forbearers were highly athletic, following a regimen of manoeuvres and throws in perfect harmony with each other. From these strictly military displays, flag waving came to be performed at important celebrations where the intense routines with colourful flags would give a taste of the spectacular to a feast. The flag-bearer must have fluid and elastic movements while performing a variety of twirls and throws with style and elegance. Some of the names given to these movements include: "Velata", "Molinello", "il Salto del Fiocco", "Scambio diritto ed incrociato", "il Rovescio", "Passaggio sottogamba ed intorno al collo ed alla vita", "Onda": all these are traditional base configurations which you see reoccurring throughout all flag waving performances. Piazza della Signoria. 3:00 pm.

On the 23rd day of each May (Saturday), Florence remembers Fra Savonarola with a solemn mass held in the Capella dei Priori in Palazzo Vecchio. After the ten o’clock mass, a small parade of civil and religious authorities, move out to Piazza della Signoria where a round stone plaque marks the spot where Savonarola and his cohorts where hung, then burned. Palm fronds and rose petals are laid on the plaque, before the group moves on to the Arno, where more flowers are tossed in memory of one of Florence’s most infamous leaders. Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria, from 10:00 am.

On Sun: 24, the Cascine Park hosts a morning to evening Cricket Fair. Welcome spring with an ancient Florentine tradition. Come to the Cascine, browse the kiosks and stands, and take part in a festival that goes back 8 centuries. Though you may be hard put to find a live cricket in a cage (sold until a few years ago as a good luck charm), you will find lots of household goods and Tuscan food specialties. The market is open from approx. 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.


FERDINANDO I de'MEDICI: Maiestate Tantum
Until Nov. 1, the Museum of the Medici Chapels will “host” Grand Duke Ferdinando I (1549 – 1609), one of the eminent figures of the Medici dynasty. He is commemorated in the fourth centennial of his death with an exhibition jointly promoted by the Polo Museale Fiorentino and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, which he founded. The exhibition is titled after Ferdinando I’s personal motto (Maiestate tantum), and will concentrate on two emblematic events tied to the politics of dynastic affirmation which guided his reign; his wedding with Christina of Lorraine, from the family of the royals of France, and the Princes’ Chapel, chosen as the exhibition venue.
The section dedicated to the wedding (celebrated with great pomp and splendour in Florence in 1589) evokes the sumptuous displays which changed the appearance of the city and the cathedral for the occasion, for the first time presenting the large scenographic canvases painted by the Medici court artists, and several surviving elements of the sculptural decoration that adorned Santa Maria del Fiore.
The Chapel of Ferdinando I, presents portraits of the married couple and their coats of arms, plus the “dowry” of rare precious objects that Catherine inherited from her ancestor, Catherine de’ Medici Queen of France, and brought with her to Florence. The heart of the exhibition is the altar of the Princes’ Chapel, a mythical temple of semiprecious stones and precious metals, that Ferdinando loved but left unfinished.
Museum of Medici Chapels. Open daily: 8:15 am - 4:50 pm. The ticket office closes at 4:20 pm. Closed on the 2nd and 4th Sunday and 1st, 3rd and 5th Monday of each month. Ticket: € 4,00

Until May 6th the Galleria Poggiali e Forconi on Via della Scala hosts a one man show of the multi-faceted American photographer David LaChapelle. About 10 years after his last show in Italy, LaChapelle has chosen to return to a private gallery. The exhibition is a tribute to the artist, a celebration of his career, consisting of 39 works and a video.
The display features four sections: Deluge, Recollections in America, Star System and Heaven to Hell, presenting a transversal show focused on the lesser known recent works of the artist alongside the works for which LaChapelle is famous: his Pietà with Courtney Love, Hi Bitch and Bye Bitch with Paris Hilton and Bon Apetite with Naomi Campbell, displayed in different areas of the gallery.
The photographs of the section Recollections in America date to the Seventies and portray groups of friends gathered for family parties and other occasions. After buying them, LaChapelle manipulated them via the insertion of objects and figures extraneous to the original context, such as flags, weapons and symbols of American power. The protagonist of Star System is public image, the most important visiting card for every celebrity, from Paris Hilton to Courtney Love. The artist grasps the aspects of personality that capture the narcissistic nature and exhibitionist attitudes of those belonging to the star system. Normality is ruled out, because the real attraction is every conceivable form of excess. Each of these portraits underscores how the icons of the star system morph into an alter ego to which they entrust their identity.
The section Heaven to Hell presents a series of three photos addressing the theme of death that grazes us or strikes us every day. Two of the images show a raging fire as it destroys the decor of an interior; the third is a contemporary Pietà interpreted by Courtney Love holding in her arms the dead body of a young drug addict. The drama of grief for the loss of a loved one, is condensed in the historic iconography of the Pietà, and extends to embrace the whole of humanity, giving shape to a sentiment of empathy that feeds on influences deriving from LaChapelle’s profound passion for the history of art. Galleria Poggiali e Forconi until May 6. Via della Scala, 35/a. Open Monday to Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and 3:30 to 7:00 pm. Closed on Sunday. Tel. 055 287748. www.poggialieforconi.it. info@poggialieforconi.it. Free entry.

From May 26 until Sept. 27, ninety-one photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe will live side-by-side with Michelangelo’s David, demonstrating that there has been no true break between the classical and the contemporary. Twenty years after the death of this renowned artist, Mapplethorpe’s works are celebrated in Florence’s major monument to grace and form.
Accademia Museum. Open: 8:15 am to 6:50 pm. Closed Mondays. www.unannodarte.it.

Until August 30, at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence has decided to pay homage to the human and intellectual epic of one of its most ingenious sons. Galileo’s first celestial discoveries date to exactly 400 years ago, and to mark this fourth centenary the United Nations has declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. The exhibition proposes a journey through time and space that begins with the mystical and poetic visions of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. It moves on to the Greek cosmogonies, characterised by the ingenious homocentric spheres of Eudoxus, through the planetary architectures of Ptolemy and Arab astronomy, revoking the Christian interpretations and finally arriving at the heliocentric theories of Copernicus that inspired Galileo and Kepler, the scholars who – together with Newton – made a decisive contribution to the definitive consolidation of the new concept of the universe.
Enhanced by informative videos, the itinerary is illustrated by archaeological finds, beautifully-fashioned scientific instruments, celestial atlases, paintings (spectacular frescoes from Pompeii never shown before, in addition to Botticelli, Rubens and Guercino), sculptures, precious illuminated codices and specially-built working cosmological models. Among the most spectacular exhibits are the monumental astronomical tapestry of Toledo, the Farnese Atlas, the mysterious painting Linder Gallery Interior, displayed here for the first time, and Galileo’s telescope.
Palazzo Strozzi, Piazza Strozzi. Until August 30. Open daily 9:00 am – 8:00 pm, Thursday until 11:00 pm. Tickets: € 10.00. Tel. 055 2645155. For bookings: tel. 055 2469600. prenotazioni@cscsigma.it

Until June 21, the Palatine and Modern Art Galleries of the Pitti Palace host Pietro Benvenuti. Pietro Benvenuti (Arezzo, 1769 – Florence, 1844) was the leading protagonist of Tuscan art in the years that marked the passage from neoclassicism to romanticism. He studied at the Fine Arts Academy of Florence and completed his training in Rome where he painted his first important studio trials: the Judith for the Cathedral of Arezzo and the Martyrdom of the Blessed Signoretto Alliata for the Cathedral of Pisa.
Elisa Baciocchi (whose brother Napoleon Bonaparte received the principality of Lucca and Piombino, and then the government of the entire Tuscany) appointed Benvenuti court painter, and in 1807 she summoned him to direct the Academy of Florence, an office he maintained until his death. The Napoleonic parenthesis was the period of several monumental compositions (The Death of Priam, The Oath of the Saxons, Elisa and the Artists), which precluded to the great decorative undertakings planned to modernise the Pitti Palace, the Room of Hercules in particular (in the wing today occupied by the Palatine Gallery), terminated during the Restoration.
Benvenuti was also an extraordinary portraitist. In Tuscany, he represents the style that prevailed in the middle-European ambit, both in bringing the character of the personages into focus, and in the setting. His classicist vocation is fully expressed in the composition of mythological themes, which the painter prepared with exquisite drawings that often assume the value of autonomous works. Leopold II of Lorraine commissioned him to complete the decorations in the dome of the Chapel of the Princes in the Church of San Lorenzo.
So the exhibition illustrates Benvenuti’s artistic history, presents his most important works, and compares them with those of his early teachers, and those by Italian and foreign artists (from Giani to Sabatelli to Thorvaldsen), encountered in Rome in the eccentric and experimental Accademia dei Pensieri (Academy of Thought). The Sala Bianca of the Gallery of Modern Art presents the paintings of the Napoleonic years (mainly portraits and mythological themes). The set up revolves around the large painting of Pyrrhus, presented to the public for the first time after a long and complex restoration that has revealed its stylistic components drawn from the study of David and Canova.
The exhibition itinerary also includes the Room of Hercules and ends with a section dedicated to the paintings of the years of the Restoration, genre paintings for the most part of a historical-literary matrix with inflections of a troubadour flavour. The particular interest of these works emerges from the comparison with several paintings with an explicit romantic adhesion by contemporaries Luigi Sabatelli and Giuseppe Bezzuoli. They are the proof that the classicist maestro Benvenuti at least in part shared the instances of truthfulness advanced by the next generation of the “moderns”, especially the Macchiaioli. Palatine Gallery and the Modern Art Gallery, Piazza Pitti 1. Hours: 8:15 to 6:50 pm. Closed Monday. www.polomuseale.firenze.it. Info: 055 294883.

Until July 12, the Pitti Palace Silver Museum hosts a show featuring the art of antiquity reflected in twentieth-century and present-day art. Paintings and sculptures that have passed through the centuries (from the Etruscans to the Classical Age, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance), are proposed in comparison with Picasso and Dali, Modigliani and De Chirico, Soffici, Marino Marini, Vangi, Mitoraj, Theimer, Guadagnucci and Franco Angeli.
The more than 130 works on show include a series of significant parallels of the applied arts: between the glass manufactures by Ercole Barovier and Carlo Scarpa and extraordinary pieces from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, between ceramics by Giò Ponti and those from the National Archaeological Museums of Florence and Rome, between twentieth-century jewels and several wonders from antiquity and the Medici collections in the Pitti Palace.
The exhibition visually represents the innovative force and great expressiveness of twentieth-century art, juxtaposed with an historical Neoclassicism. Already present in Picasso’s works from the early XX century (the exhibition presents the Repas Frugal from the Victoria and Albert Museum of London), the return to origin became a creative drive also for a generation of Italian artists. After the disruptive experiences of the turn of the century, Carrà, Severini, Soffici, De Chirico, Morandi, and Modigliani chose this road to reconnect with roots and traditions. Even foreign artists were influenced by the allure of our past: in the Birth of Liquid Desires dated 1931-32, and on loan from the Guggenheim Museum of Venice, Salvador Dalì presents a surreal atmosphere, and literally cites the famous Cornelian with Apollo, Marsias and Olympus, which once belonged to Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Silver Museum. Palazzo Pitti. Piazza Pitti 1. Hours: 8:15 to 5.30 pm. Closed Monday. www.polomuseale.firenze.it. Info: 055 294883.

Until June 14, 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 favourite 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.

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.

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. 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 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.

Sunday 3
GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG (Twilight of the Gods) - The last work in the Ring cycle, Götterdämmerung - in the production with the award-winning pair Mehta–Fura dels Baus (Abbiati Prize for Italian music criticism for the previous Das Rheingold and Die Walküre) - is performed first in Florence, ahead of Valencia, with whom it has been co-produced. It features Lance Ryan’s new interpretation of Siegfried alongside Jennifer Wilson’s acclaimed Brünnhilde. Teatro Comunale. 3:00 pm.

Monday 4
ZUBIN MEHTA • RUDOLF BUCHBINDER (II) - The complete set of Beethoven’s Concertos for Piano and Orchestra performed with Zubin Mehta on the podium and Rudolf Buchbinder at the piano concludes with an incredible tour de force by the two musicians and the Maggio Musicale Orchestra: there are, in fact, three Concertos offered on this second evening. It’s been all of twenty years since the complete set of Beethoven Piano Concertos featured on the Teatro del Maggio programme. Teatro Comunale. 8:30.

Tuesday 5
PINO DANIELE –Electric Jam ’09 European tour. Tickets: 27 to 40 euro. Teatro Saschall. 9:00 pm.

Wednesday 6
GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG (Twilight of the Gods). 6:00 pm. See Monday 4.

Saturday 9
GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG (Twilight of the Gods). 6:00 pm. See Monday 4.

Thursday 14
MARCO MASINI. Tickets: 15 to 25 euro. Mandela Forum. 9:00 pm.

Friday 15
LEO MACFALL - A pupil of the Sibelius Academy of Finland and assistant to Bernard Haitink, this conductor came into the limelight in the prestigious Tanglewood courses and, still in his twenties, makes his debut on the stage alongside the Maggio Musicale Orchestra and Choir with the rare Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt (Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage) op. 112 by Beethoven, together with two very famous compositions: the symphonic poem Don Juan by Richard Strauss and Dvóøak’s Symphony From the New World. Teatro Comunale. 8:30.

Saturday 16
GIORGIA – Spirito Libero Tour. Tickets: 25 to 40 euro. Teatro Saschall. 9:00 pm.

Thursday 21
ALEXANDER LONQUICH - The German, and now naturalised Italian, pianist returns to the Teatro del Maggio after a period of almost thirty years since his only performances in the double role of conductor and pianist. At the piano, he will play Mozart’s D minor Concerto K. 466, one of the best known and best-loved of the 27 concertos composed by Mozart and on the podium; he will conduct the Maggio Orchestra in Schubert’s Great C Major Symphony, one of the mainstays of Viennese symphonic pre-Romanticism. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.

Friday 22
PATTO DI SANGUE - Another jewel in the Festival’s crown this year is the first performance of this contemporary opera by Matteo D’Amico with a libretto by Sandro Cappelletto. It’s a “black comedy” freely adapted from Ramón María del Valle-Inclán – Spain’s Pirandello – and a continuation of the project in which the Maggio is committed to presenting each year a new operatic work commissioned from an Italian author or being performed for the first time in Italy. “Patto di sangue” is conducted by Marcello Panni with Daniele Abbado directing, scenery by Graziano Gregari and costumes by Carla Teti. Teatro Goldoni. 8:30 pm.

ELIO IS FRANKENSTEIN Maggio OFF - Once again, Elio skilfully crosses the frontiers of his genre, performing the neo-Gothic opera “Frankenstein!! Pan-demonium for chansonnier and ensemble” by Heinz Carl Gruber. The second part of the concert is an amusing revival of some of the great successes of Elio e le Storie Tese, which lead the audience into the “enchanted garden” where anything is possible. Teatro Comunale. 9:15 pm.

Sunday 24
PATTO DI SANGUE (See Friday 22.)

OMAR SOSA QUARTET Maggio OFF - Omar Sosa brings together musicians from Africa, Cuba, Brazil and France to celebrate the rich heritage of African music and comparing it with jazz and Latin music. Sosa’s arrangements combine folklore and modernity, both ancestral and urban. The voices of the spirits and percussions from Africa and South America blend with the lyrical, bold style of Sosa’s piano. Piccolo Teatro (Comunale) 9:15 pm.

Wednesday 27
WINTERREISE - The tenor Ian Bostridge, who makes his long-awaited debut at the Festival, and the pianist Julius Drake are the protagonists of a new production of Schubert’s Winterreise by the director Roberto Andò, who turns this well-known cycle of Lieder into an elegant show with scenery by Gianni Carluccio and videos by Luca Scarzella, exclusively for the Maggio festival. Teatro Comunale. 8:30 pm.

Friday 29
CONTEMPOARTENSEMBLE - Paying tribute to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who celebrates his 75th birthday in 2009, the Festival brings to the stage a group that specialises in contemporary music - the Contempoartensemble, directed by Mauro Ceccanti with the participation of the pianist Bruno Canino and the musicologist Quirino Principe as reciting voice. As well as the “Missa Super l’Homme Armé”, the programme includes three first Italian performances. Teatro Goldoni. 8:30 pm.


Odeon Theatre, Piazza Strozzi 2 (across from Colle Beretto Bar). Phone: 055 214 068.
Monday 4 - State of Play by Kevin Macdonald with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren. 5.30 – 8.20 – 10.30 p.m.
Tuesday 5 - Earth by Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield (Documentary) 5.00 – 6.50 – 8.40 – 10.30 p.m.
Thursday 7 - Gran Torino by Clint Eastwood (Italian subtitles) with Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley, Austin Douglas Smith. 5.30 – 8.20 – 10.30 p.m.
Monday 11 – Che: Part One by Steven Soderbergh (Italian subtitles) with Benicio Del Toro, Demiàn Bichir, Santiago Cabrera, Elvira Mínguez. 5.30 - 8.15 - 10.30 p.m.
Tuesday 12 - Two Lovers by James Gray with Gwyneth Paltrow, Joaquin Phoenix, Vinessa Shaw, Isabella Rossellini. 5.00 – 6.55 – 8.45 – 10.35 p.m.
Thursday 14 - Star Trek XI by J.J. Abrams with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Simon Pegg, Winona Ryder. 5.30 – 8.20 – 10.30 p.m.
Monday 18 - Angels & Demons by Ron Howard with Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierfrancesco Favino. 5.30 – 8.00 – 10.30 p.m.
Tuesday 19 - Angels & Demons - 5.30 – 8.00 – 10.30 p.m.
Thursday 21 - Angels & Demons - 4.30 - 7.00 - 9.30 p.m.
Monday 25 - RocknRolla by Guy Ritchie with Gerard Butler, Jeremy Piven, T. Newton, G. Arterton, Tom Wilkinson. 5.30 – 8.20 – 10.30 p.m.
Tuesday 26 - State of Play by Kevin Macdonald with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren. 5.30 – 8.20 – 10.30 p.m.
Thursday 28 - Special Event: ORSON WELLES MACBETH. In original language with aperitif presented by FESTA Theatre as part of this Seasons Macbeth cycle. For more information see www.themacbethproject.org

The movie version of the BBC’s celebrated TV series State of Play relocates the action from London to Washington DC but retains the thriller aspect as investigators uncover the connections in the murky worlds of business and politics.
Another BBC triumph was David Attenborough’s Planet Earth, and Earth is a condensation of that series now narrated by Patrick Stewart (WINNER BOGEY AWARD IN GOLD 2008). The damage to wildlife and the environment is the focus of this brilliantly photographed feature-length documentary on the consequences of global warming.
Another solid performance as both star and director comes from Clint Eastwood in his Gran Torino, a challenging story of racism and crime and the difficult road to multicultural tolerance.
Steven Soderbergh’s movie Che will be shown in separate parts (Part One: The Argentine, Part Two: Guerrilla) and in one marathon screening (to be held in June). Benicio Del Toro stars as Che Guevara in a controversial biopic that neither glorifies nor demonises the South American revolutionary (BENICIO DEL TORO WINNER CANNES FESTIVAL 2008 – BEST ACTOR.)
Two Lovers is an intense New York set romantic drama that has something new and inspiring to say on the age-old subjects of love and lovers (1 NOMINATION CANNES FESTIVAL 2008 - GOLDEN PALM).
J J Abrams’ Star Trek (aka Star Trek XI) is a brilliant example of how intelligence and sensitivity can rejuvenate an old franchise. Both die-hard Trekkies and the uninitiated will be transported by this story of the young Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise.
Ron Howard (director of The Da Vinci Code 2006) also directs Angels and Demons, an adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel written before The Da Vinci Code but actually a sequel about a plot to destroy the Vatican City with antimatter.
Guy Ritchie’s fast-paced Brit gangster movie RocknRolla is a comedy crime drama set in the East End underworld where there is no honour amongst thieves (WINNER BEST BRITISH FILM BLACK REEL AWARDS 2009).

British Institute Library. Palazzo Lanfredini, Lungarno Guicciardini 9. All lectures begin at 6 pm. Free admission.
Wednesday 6: Tania String - Myth and memory in representations of Henry VIII, 1509-2009. This year marks the 500th anniversary of Henry’s accession to the throne at the age of seventeen. In her talk Tania String explains how the king’s image has mutated in the last five centuries. Tania String is Head of the History of Art department at the University of Bristol and has recently published Art and Communication in the Reign of Henry VIII (Ashgate, 2008). Her forthcoming study ‘Projecting Masculinity: Henry VIII’s Codpiece’ will appear this year in Henry VIII and his Afterlives (Cambridge University Press).
Wednesday 13: John McCourt and Maria Anita Stefanelli - Two Irish writers: Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. John McCourt, who teaches at the Università Roma Tre and directs the Trieste Joyce School (Università di Trieste), presents two new books edited by Maria Anita Stefanelli and published in Florence by Centro Di, each devoted to a Nobel Prize-winning Irish writer. Tullio Pericoli’s Many Becketts focuses on the portraits of the great dramatist made over many years by the Italian artist Pericoli, while Italian Heaney concentrates on Italian translations of Seamus Heaney’s poetry.
Wednesday 20: Lynn Catterson - A 2nd-century Roman sarcophagus recarved by Donatello. Lynn Catterson was a student and friend of the late Professor James Beck, and like her mentor she lectures on renaissance art at Columbia and tackles controversial issues head-on. Recently she has argued that the celebrated sculptural group known as the Laocoön is a forgery by the young Michelangelo (and her arguments have not been refuted). In this talk she examines a Roman marble sarcophagus in Cortona that she believes to have been completely recarved by another Tuscan sculptural genius, Donatello.
Wednesday 27: Peter Maxwell Davies - Master of the Queen’s Music: Is it possible today? Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is known internationally as a brilliant conductor and prolific composer. In this talk he will consider the role of Master of the Queen’s Music, to which he was appointed in 2004, and the challenges it presents in today’s world. His most recent piece, A Hymn to the Spirit of Fire, was commissioned by the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Concerts Society as the culmination of the city’s Capital of Culture year 2008 and was given its world première at the cathedral on 13 December.


On Sat. 9 and Sun. 10 delve into the secret world of Tuscan bread. The town of Altopascio, not far from Lucca, is renowned for its saltless, yet flavourful bread. The 12 remaining local forni will be offering tastes and sales of their famous products. Find hot focaccia, chestnut, corn and potato flour loaves, plus honey, wine, cheeses and entertainment for children as well. Info: 0583 216525.

On Sat. 23 and Sun. 24, the historical Villa le Corti in San Casciano Val di Pesa will host wine producers and wine lovers, joining together to celebrate, taste and toast the art of winemaking. Representatives from over 80 vineyards will pour more than 400 different wines ranging from Chianti to Bordeaux, France. The event features many Tuscan labels; of the Chianti region, the classic Brunello di Montalcino as well as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Strolling from table to table at Villa Le Corti, visitors can freely taste, and talk with the producers themselves. As an opportunity to learn more about Italian wine production, luncheons and on-site seminars will be offered. For those who would like to make a day of it, there will be a restaurant serving “the Pleasures of the Tuscan Table.” Villa le Corti, San Casciano Val di Pesa Open 11 am - 8 pm. Ticket: 18 Euro. Tel 055/829301 for info. www.principe-corsini.com.

From Friday 22 to Sunday 24, grab the kids and head a short twenty minutes northwest of Florence along the Via Bolognese to the park of Villa Demidoff, which each May is populated with a county fair, Tuscan-style. Sheep and lambs, enormous cattle, horses of every shape and size, plus hawks, dogs, food, sun and fun will delight the kiddies and adults alike. Bus 25 from Piazza San Marco will get you there and back. For info call 055 500241.

On Sun. 24, in a town known world-wide for its handmade knife production, one might not expect a celebration involving flowers. But on this Sunday in May, the streets and piazzas are literally carpeted with floral mosaics of multicoloured petals and leaves. The entire town including kids from local schools, shopkeepers and businessmen all participate in the fun. Plus… Saturday 23, hit the Campo Sportivo for a dinner of tortelli mugellani with potato filling, grilled meats and good Chianti (menu available again Sunday at lunch and dinner).
Scarperia historical centre (Mugello). All day long.

Sunday 24, Greve in Chianti hosts their monthly organic food fair Il Pagliaio. May’s fair features honey and honey making. From morning through the afternoon, the main piazza of Greve will be filled with kiosks of every kind, selling not only honey, bee’s wax candles and royal jelly, but also cheese, bread, wine, olive oil, jams, sweets and all sorts of natural, handmade fare. Greve in Chianti, Piazza Giacomo Matteotti.

100 KM DEL PASSATORE, 37th Annual Run.
Saturday 30 and Sun. 31, watch for the race that Franco Chiavegatti, reporter of the “Corriere della Sera” baptised as “the Olympic games of the foolish”. The 100 km del Passatore was born on a cold morning of January 1973. Today, in its 37th edition, the race starts on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Piazza della Signoria, and finishes in Faenza, Piazza del Popolo, with a deadline (“finish line”) of 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. The race officially covers a distance of 100 km, along paved country and state roads from Florence through Fiesole, Borgo San Lorenzo, Marradi, and Brisighella to Faenza. For info: tel. 0546 664603. www.100kmdelpassatore.it.

WINE DAY (Cantine Aperte)
On Sun. 31 take advantage of this special day to experience free guided tours and wine tasting at many Tuscan vineyards located in the wine-producing areas of Chianti Classico, Carmignano, Rufina, San Gimignano, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Maremma and others. On this festive day, all Italian wine lovers unite. From the Alps to Sicily, almost one thousand wineries welcome wine tourists to see their vines, barrels and barriques. To name just a few of the visitable wineries in Tuscany:
Castello del Trebbio, Via Santa Brigida 9, Loc. Santa Brigida (FI). Tel: 055 8304900. www.vinoturismo.it
Castello di Verrazzano, Via S. Martino in Valle 12, Greve in Chianti (FI). Tel. 055 854243. www.verrazzano.com
Villa Vignamaggio, Via Petrolio 5. Greve in Chianti (FI). Tel: 055 854661 www.vignamaggio.it
Barone Ricasoli, Cantine del Castello di Brolio, Gaiole in Chianti (SI). Tel: 0577 7301 www.ricasoli.it
Banfi, Castello di Poggio alle Mura. Montalcino (SI). Tel: 0577 840111. www.castellobanfi.com
And just in case you wish to check out one of the few grappa producers in Tuscany: Distillerie Bonollo, Via Citille 43/C, Greve in Chianti (FI). Tel: 055 8544466. www.bonollo.com.
Most wineries will be open 10 am - 1 pm, 3 - 7 pm. Call 055/854243 for information or visit the website: www.movimentoturismovino.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 new exhibition space in Pontassieve’s Palazzo Municipale hosts a fascinating show of 49 works by Antonio Ligabue, one of Italy’s most important 20th century Naive artists. Ligabue was born in Switzerland but lived most of his life in Reggio Emilio, where he died in 1966. During a life spent in and out of psychiatric hospital wards and touring the countryside on his red motorcycle (featured in the exhibition), he taught himself to paint. His natural talent emerged through wild colours, an empathy with animals rather than people and a haunting obsession with self-portraits (123 in all with three of them staring out at Pontassieve visitors). The show includes sketches, paintings and sculptures. There is a striking and intriguing difference between the style of his paintings – reflecting Rousseau and with hints of Van Gogh – and the remarkable simpatico of his bronzes; the horses walk, the calves suckle, the panther hisses and strikes at you.
It’s an easy, regular train ride from Santa Maria Novella (20-25 minutes) but at Pontassieve exit northwards, signed towards Piazza Stazione, to make sure of hitting the old town centre and the short climb to the charming municipal square.
Pontassieve, Palazzo Municipale. 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

THE DELLA ROBBIA: A Renaissance Dialogue Between the Arts.
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 (gold-smithing, 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

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 splendour after seven years of restoration. Small, guided tours of the fresco cycle now allow the public to come face to face with Lippi. 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.

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