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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SCUOLA DEL CUOIO -- PART 5


THE LEATHER SCHOOL IN FLORENCE'S
HISTORIC BASILICA SANTA CROCE


It was more than I’d normally pay for one bag, but worth every penny. 

Even the extra $75 import fee I had to pay Fed Ex upon delivery in Miami. 

Did I mention they embossed my initials in gold inside the bag?

And, oh yeah, the Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world.

It has sixteen chapels, many decorated with frescoes by Giotto. 

Brunelleschi built the inner cloister, which has a monument to Florence Nightingale.

It includes a relief of the Annunciation by Donatello. Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli are buried there, and it has a cenotaph dedicated to Dante.

You may want to check that stuff out, too.

http://www.scuoladelcuoio.com

Piazza Santa Croce, 16 (the more accessible way through the Church of Santa Croce)

Via San Giuseppe, 5/R (through the garden that surrounds the Apse)

Tel.: (+39) 055.244.533/4


Monday, July 30, 2012

SCUOLA DEL CUOIO -- PART 4


THE LEATHER SCHOOL IN FLORENCE'S
HISTORIC BASILICA SANTA CROCE

Once inside, the air is thick with the warm smell of leather. Students toil away with leather and sharp instruments. 

You won’t confuse the place with a tony Ferragamo boutique, but the goods are attractively displayed in glass cases, and they are dazzling.

Every style of clutch, hand, shoulder and cross-body bag you can imagine in shades of tangerine, mustard, fuchsia, russet, sage, aquamarine and more. 

Many are ornamented with stones, beads, shells and fancy hardware. I could barely contain myself.

Then I spied what I’d traveled across the ocean for: a gorgeous, red calf leather, triple section medium Kelly. 

Shiny hardware with the name “Scuola del Cuoio” in tasteful cursive. 

Removable shoulder strap.

I asked to see it. 

Played with the latch. 

Touched it.

Inhaled. 

Bought it.

FIRENZE FASHION CONTINUES TOMORROW -- 7-30


Sunday, July 29, 2012

SCUOLA DEL CUOIO -- PART 3



THE LEATHER SCHOOL IN FLORENCE'S
HISTORIC BASILICA SANTA CROCE

After a few time-wasting detours into shops with attention grabbing, brightly colored bags obviously not made by Tuscan artisans (or by anyone on the European continent), a man (yes – a local married guy) suggested the Scuola del Cuoio – leather school.

The school is located adjacent to the Basilica di Santa Croce, a magnificent Franciscan church that broke ground during Dante Alighieri’s lifetime.
Here students learn the trade of crafting handmade bags and other items out of top quality materials, which are then offered for sale at affordable prices.

And I thought the golden era of religious miracles was long over.

You can enter the leather school from outside the building, or through the church. 

I chose the latter, since I’m a wheelchair user and that way posed fewer steps for bumping up or down. 

FIRENZE FASHION CONTINUES TOMORROW -- 7-30


Saturday, July 28, 2012

SCUOLA DEL CUOIO -- PART 2



THE LEATHER SCHOOL IN FLORENCE'S
HISTORIC BASILICA SANTA CROCE
When my husband and I began planning a trip to Florence, Italy, I couldn’t wait to gaze upon Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and sample al dente pappardelle with wild boar ragu.

But I’m a die-hard fashionista. 

My focus is always unexpected bargains on beautiful things to wear and carry, including the occasional splurge.

Shortly after our arrival in Firenze, we took a stroll down Via Tornabuoni, and its side streets: the epicenter of Florentine haute couture.

Window shopping was delightful. I even summoned the courage to browse in the Pucci boutique. 

But even a modest purchase would have meant skipping a couple mortgage payments.

Not really an option.

So I quizzed several locals we made friends with. I asked about silk scarves, skirts and dresses. 

But the burning question was “where could I get a reasonable deal on a beautiful, well-crafted, Italian-made leather bag?”

FIRENZE FASHION CONTINUES TOMORROW -- 7-29

Friday, July 27, 2012

SCUOLA DEL CUOIO -- PART 1



THE LEATHER SCHOOL IN FLORENCE'S
HISTORIC BASILICA SANTA CROCE

By HJW

Every woman wants one: dreams of it, yearns for it. 

At times, it dances about in the periphery of the mind, a bit like Percival’s perpetual longing for the Holy Grail.

I’m talking about the Kelly bag: the crowing glory of every woman’s handbag collection. 

When you see a woman carrying one, you don’t have to wonder if she’s got a Designer A fabric mini-hobo or a Designer B microfiber mid-size shopper.

A Kelly bag is iconic.

Unmistakable. 

Gorgeous.

It implies good taste and an appreciation for the finer things, regardless of your socioeconomic status.

For the men reading this, it’s analogous to the payoff you get after years of saving up for that vintage Aston Martin.

The dreaminess when studying the chassis; the contentment sitting in the driver’s seat.

FIRENZE FASHION CONTINUES TOMORROW -- 7-28






Thursday, July 26, 2012

BALDOVINO TRATTORIA & PIZZERIA -- PART 6



DAVID GARDNER PROVES A SCOTSMAN CAN CREATE GREAT TUSCAN CUISINE IN THE HEART OF FLORENCE

We rewarded for breaking our return visit rule.

Owner David Gardner himself happened to be in the house and the wait staff pointed us out as repeat visitors during our all too brief stay in Florence.

He was very concerned about wheelchair access and made sure that we knew one water closet was 100% barrier-free (we did, having used it a week before on our initial visit.)

Gardner chatted us up between fielding phone calls and quizzing his staff how breakfast went at his adjacent Cafe Baldobar -- which is one of prettiest and tastiest breakfast options in all of St. Croce.

Before bidding us goodbye, Gardner mentioned that his Villa Bordoni has wheelchair access.

Villa Bordoni is a small hotel, lauded by Travel and Leisure, in Greve -- a tiny town in the heart of the Chianti region know for famed Italian red wines.

Greve is halfway between Florence and Siena (a hauntingly beautiful and history hill town about an hour south of Firenze)

Villa Bordoni has a restaurant and cooking classes as well as barrier-free access.

Baldovino address: Via San Giuseppe 22r, next to Santa Croce Basilica
 
Phone: 055 241773
 
Website: www.baldovino.com

Website for small hotel in Greve:  www.villabordoni.com



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

BALDOVINO TRATTORIA & PIZZERIA -- PART 5


DAVID GARDNER PROVES A SCOTSMAN CAN CREATE GREAT TUSCAN CUISINE IN THE HEART OF FLORENCE

Baldovino has wheelchair-accessible seating outdoors and a barrier-free entrance to its lovely indoor dining. 

The restroom is one of the most accessible in Florence.

We can report that on our last day in Firenze, we broke our own rule about patronizing the same place twice -- when there are so many fresh options to sample.

We went light.

Heidi noshed on a salad Toscana with mixed leaves, pecorino cheese, pear, celery, walnuts.

I went veg again with the fab Giardiniera pizza of fresh tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms, bell peppers, olives in onions.

The red peppers really put it over the top, as I downed the whole pie, save for a small slice shared with my bridge.

I begged to disrupt the natural harmony of the Giardiniera pizza, asking them to hold the onions.

Two visits and two perfectly-prepared meals at Baldovino.

BALDOVINO REVIEW CONTINUES 
TOMORROW -- JULY 26

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BALDOVINO TRATTORIA & PIZZERIA -- PART 4


DAVID GARDNER PROVES A SCOTSMAN CAN CREATE GREAT TUSCAN CUISINE IN THE HEART OF FLORENCE

The house red was the perfect accompaniment to both my meatless pizza and Heidi's hearty Papardelle with boar ragout.

Just when I thought things couldn't possibly get better, our flawless waiter asked if I would like to try some hot olive oil.

I like it hot and he delivered a succulent olive oil spiked with dried, crushed red peppers.

The fiery (but not damaging) oil was the perfect thing to dip my pizza crust in (whether that was breaking any Tuscan dining rules or not).

We didn't have room for more, but our brilliant server tempted us with word that Baldovino takes great pride in its baked goods.

Soon, we were sharing torta a ciccoloto con panna  -- chocolate torte with panna cotta (cooked cream).

Since Baldovino has an extensive wine list, we let are sharp server suggest an excellent  dessert wine to end our main courses and east our way into the delish chocolate.

BALDOVINO REVIEW CONTINUES 
TOMORROW -- JULY 26

Monday, July 23, 2012

BALDOVINO TRATTORIA & PIZZERIA -- PART 3


DAVID GARDNER PROVES A SCOTSMAN CAN CREATE GREAT TUSCAN CUISINE IN THE HEART OF FLORENCE

Hoummus Toscana -- cannellini, sesame and garlic dip served with Arab bread from Baldovino's wood oven  -- started ear evening out perfectly.

Heidi, wanting to sample Tuscany's famed game meat, went for Papardelle with homemade wild boar ragout, scented with juniper.

Certainly, boar tastes a bit wilder than beef, but the dish was an outstanding main course for a hungry traveler.

While Baldovino's menu has expanded far beyond pizza, I couldn't resist choosing from the dozens of fresh and inventive creations on the menu.

I settled on the Siciliana -- with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, olives and melted parmesan.

The pizza was big enough to share, but I gorged on the whole thing down to the last bit of crust. 

The moz was brilliant and fresh.

The sundrieds were sweet, fruity, zesty.

The black olives earthy, briny taste were a perfect contrast to the sundried tomatoes.

Fearing too much of a good thing, I almost asked our outstanding and attentive server to hold off on the crispy melted parmesan on top of the pizza.

Too much cheese can sink an otherwise perfect pizza.

The parm was perfect -- divinely crispy and salty to play off the mild mozzarella.

BALDOVINO REVIEW CONTINUES 
TOMORROW -- JULY 24

Sunday, July 22, 2012

BALDOVINO TRATTORIA & PIZZERIA -- PART 2



DAVID GARDNER PROVES A SCOTSMAN CAN CREATE GREAT TUSCAN CUISINE IN THE HEART OF FLORENCE

You can still sit outside at a lovely sidewalk cafe setting (the interior of Baldovino is even more beautiful), you just won't have a full view of Piazza Santa Croce. 

For that small trade, you will pay unbelievably low prices for amazingly authentic and straightforward Italian bistro cuisine.
Monolingual English speakers will also be rewarded by Baldovino's attentive and well-trained servers, who speak flawless English.  

That should come as no surprise as their boss, David Gardner, is a longtime expat from Scotland.

Gardner first molded Baldovino into a pizza and wine joint and the pizzas are still spectacular.

But over the years, he has expanded the menu to include Tuscan treats throughout -- whether it is a fresh salad made with ingredients from the countryside, pasta with local wild boar or a unique hummus made of Tuscan beans.

BALDOVINO REVIEW CONTINUES 
TOMORROW -- JULY 22

Saturday, July 21, 2012

BALDOVINO TRATTORIA & PIZZERIA -- PART 1



DAVID GARDNER PROVES A SCOTSMAN CAN CREATE GREAT TUSCAN CUISINE IN THE HEART OF FLORENCE

The best advice I could ever give to a person seeking good food and a good price in Florence is to walk a beat off the beaten track.

There may be a couple good chefs still practicing within a perfect view of the Uffizi, Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, or grand Piazza.

But far too many have gone the pre-fixed tourist menu, with barkers shamelessly luring weary visitors into a land of rotgut red wines and microwaved pasta.

You don't have to go far. 

Just a long block off the main piazza will do the trick.

Do a little research before the trip.
Look up Trip Advisor, Virtual Tourist, Frommer's, Lonely Planet and Zagat online.

You will be rewarded with a finding a gem such as David Gardner's Baldovino Trattoria & Pizzeria. 

It's located on a narrow street about 100 meters from the front of the art- and history-filled Basilica Santa Croce.

BALDOVINO REVIEW CONTINUES 
TOMORROW -- JULY 22

Friday, July 20, 2012

CAFE GIACOSA -- PART 3


ROBERTO CAVALLI STYLE MEETS
OLD SCHOOL FLORENTINE NEGRONI

Giacosa is inviting for late afternoon cocktails, and the drink of choice is the Negroni.

The mystical union of Campari, sweet vermouth and gin was invented on this very site at the start of the 1920s, back when it was Bar Casoni. 

I approached the handsome barkeep in vest and tie and ordered the drink old fashioned-style, one of several variations on the menu.

He presented it smartly with a garnish of fresh orange slice, the sweetness complementing my mini baguette with prosciutto di Parma.

One can also get other delights to go or have them shipped home, such as wickedly good chocolates by weight, Roberto Cavalli Vodka, or Cavalli Tenuta Degli Dei Wine.

Whatever your pleasure, Giacosa is a heady mix of old Euro charm and of-the-moment glamour, a perfect oasis of calm from the buzzing streets of Florence.

http://www.caffegiacosa.it/

Thursday, July 19, 2012

CAFE GIACOSA -- PART 2


ROBERTO CAVALLI STYLE MEETS 
OLD SCHOOL FLORENTINE NEGRONI


Cavalli, the designer synonymous with bold animal prints, has created a space -- once known as Florence’s drawing room – that gives a nod to both the past and the present.

Think Old World luxe crossed with contemporary chic: a gorgeous wooden bar and padded banquets; walls covered with black and white photos of fashion models, working the all-important contrast of light and shadow, like the chiaroscuro in Renaissance paintings.

Giacosa is open throughout the day. To get the full flavor of it, first come for breakfast, then return for afternoon highballs. 

Our morning visit included aromatic, perfectly foamed cappuccino and an assortment of scrumptious pastries, including some dark, near bitter chocolate delights and a blueberry-filled croissant.

The people-watching was as irresistible as the food. Businessmen in bespoke suits and expensive looking briefcases rushed in for coffee and pastry, then on to the office.

A decidedly hip young mom spent some quality time with her little shaver in tow. 

A slender, androgynous woman with impossibly thin hips encased in leather pants stopped to make the scene.

NARRATIVE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- JULY 20

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CAFE GIACOSA -- PART 1


ROBERTO CAVALLI STYLE MEETS 
OLD SCHOOL FLORENTINE NEGRONI

By Heidi Johnson-Wright

Italy’s reputation as a civilization through the millennia is unparalleled: standard-setting architecture, ingenious feats of engineering, art as awe-inspiring as gazing into the face of God.

All of those things should be part and parcel of a trip to Florence. 

But let’s not forget two of the best things about contemporary Italian culture: tasty things to put in one’s mouth and gorgeous things to wear.

That’s why Caffe Giacosa was a must-see on my list.
 
Nestled in Florence’s famed fashion district centered around Via Tornabuoni (the boutiques! the bags! the Pucci prints!), Giacosa is part coffee house, part salon, and 100 percent famed Italian designer Roberto Cavalli.

Cavalli, a Florentine by birth, saved and re-imagined the spot that was the former location of an antique shop turned cafe. 

NARRATIVE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- JULY 19

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TRIUMPH FROM TRAGEDY -- DAVID LEES FOR LIFE -- part 2


A GREAT BOOK OF BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS FROM THE 1966 RIVER ARNO FLOOD THAT DEVASTATED FLORENCE AND ITS ART COLLECTIONS

The volunteers who flocked to Florence to help with the salvaging, then drying, then restoration of art treasures were known as the Mud Angels.

They formed human chains to pass crumpled, waterlogged books from one hand to the next until they made it to a safe and dry facility for the long process of drying, cleaning, restoring.

The late Senator Robert Kennedy was a Mud Angel and, in this brilliant book, wrote of his eperience:

"I will never forget my trip to Florence forty years ago after the Arno River flooded its banks and overwhelmed the people of Florence. As tragic and devastating as the conditioners were, I was impressed to see so many people, especially young people, from across Italy and around the world, who came together to save the priceless and irreplaceable cultural treasures of Florence."  

"Along with the pungent gas lamps, it was hope and commitment that illuminated the faces of the Mud Angels, even as they stood amidst overwhelmingly muddy destruction," the statesman from Massachusetts recalled. "The rescue and restoration began immediately. It was an extraordinary effort that inspired the world and remains today a noble example of triumph in the face of daunting adversity."

Cimabue's artistic crucifix, displayed in Basilica Santa Croce since 1288, was nearly destroyed by the floods. 

Nearly two thirds of its paint was washed away.  

Now partially restored (see photo above), Cimabue's influential crucifix is on display in the Museo dell' Opera of the Santa Croce.

Visit the publisher's site at:

http://www.polistampa.com/php/sl.php?bc=41&idlibro=4003

Monday, July 16, 2012

TRIUMPH FROM TRAGEDY -- DAVID LEES FOR LIFE

A GREAT BOOK OF BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS FROM THE 1966 RIVER ARNO FLOOD THAT DEVASTATED FLORENCE AND ITS ART COLLECTIONS

Anyone who has marveled at the treasures in the Uffizi, Basilica Santa Croce or dozens of other museums and churches in Florence will be interested in this small, 80-page book of photos of the devastation and recovery.

David Lees died in 2004, in his hillside home overlooking beautiful Firenze.

Four decades earlier, on assignment for Life Magazine, he chronicled the November 4 1966 flood that sent the Arno's waters crashing into ancient Florence at 40 miles per hour.

Human beings lost their lives in the tragedy and thousands upon thousands of rare books and priceless art treasures were damaged beyond comprehension.

Thankfully, hundreds of people young and old -- from Tuscany, from Italy, from all over the world -- went to Florence to help recover waterlogged books and masterpieces.

This book, in stark photographs, tells their stories.

PART 2 TOMORROW -- JULY 17.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS VIA TRENITALIA'S SALABLU -- PART 5

SALABLU DISABLED PASSENGER SERVICE BY TRENITALIA MAKES MAKES RAIL SERVICE ACCESSIBLE THROUGHOUT TUSCANY AND ITALY

Trenitalia has a fabulous service from Rome's airport to the center of Eternal City.

Rome is not in Tuscany and we had no plan to visit it during this trip.

But Alitalia airline screwed up royally and left Miami three hours late for the transcontinental flight.

We arrive in Rome when our connecting flight to Firenze had taken off.

So we saw Rome in a day -- and took the wheelchair accessible train (which less than 30 euro, or less than half the price of a cab).

From the Trenitalia website, here is some more information about services for disabled passengers (remember to forgive its shaky translations and awkward -- we would not say "people with mental handicap" -- phrasing.)


Assistance to persons with disabilities or reduced mobility

With the coming into force of (EC) Regulation No. 1371/2007, the terms "person with disabilities" or "person with reduced mobility" (PRM) have finally been introduced, equivalent definitions indicating people with reduced mobility, in the use of transport means, due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), mental disability or handicap, or due to any other disability cause, or for reasons of age, and whose condition requires adequate attention and service adaptation in order to meet their specific needs.

Our assistance service is provided by RFI - Rete Ferroviaria Italiana – and is addressed to: 

- individuals in a wheelchair because of illness or disability;
- individuals with limb problems or with difficulty in walking;
- elderly people;
- pregnant women;
- blind or visually impaired people;
- deaf or hearing impaired people;
- people with mental handicap


email: salablu.firenze@rfi.it

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=052ff172e719a110VgnVCM1000003f16f90aRCRD

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW, JULY15

Saturday, July 14, 2012

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS VIA TRENITALIA'S SALABLU -- PART 4



SALABLU DISABLED PASSENGER SERVICE BY TRENITALIA MAKES MAKES RAIL SERVICE ACCESSIBLE THROUGHOUT TUSCANY AND ITALY

Heidi Johnson-Wright is pictured above at the modern, accessible elevator at Sienna's train station.

Sienna is a spectacular town with a gorgeous (inside and out) cathedral.




The Allegory of Good and Bad Government,  a series of frescoes painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti  the early 1300s, are still poignant today and can be found in the Sala dei Nove (Salon of Nine or Council Room) in the Palazzo Pubblico on the Piazza del Campo.

From Trenitalia's website (forgive the poor translations to English), here is information of Postobu, a program that provides Seat Reservation for Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM)

With “Postoblu”  reservation system you can book all your tickets when requesting assistance, at Sale Blu or by calling our Call centers for all types of tickets currently valid on Express, Intercity, Intercity Night, Eurostar City, Eurostar Italia, Eurostar Italia High-Speed and EC trains (on national routes), finalising the payment and collecting your travel documents at a later stage.

PostoBlu” allows you to book:
• Equipped seating areas (with safety anchor system for wheelchairs) and relevant 'associated' seat for any accompanying persons;
• Seats reserved to PRM and their accompanying persons;
• Ordinary seats, couchettes or wagon lits.

PRM's accompanying persons can avail of the “
Postoblu” service only when travelling together with the accompanied person. 

“Postoblu” does not apply to international tickets, to tickets for cumulative service, to season tickets and to group tickets.


email: salablu.firenze@rfi.it

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=052ff172e719a110VgnVCM1000003f16f90aRCRD

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW, JULY15

Friday, July 13, 2012

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS VIA TRENITALIA'S SALABLU -- PART 3



SALABLU DISABLED PASSENGER SERVICE BY TRENITALIA MAKES MAKES RAIL SERVICE ACCESSIBLE THROUGHOUT TUSCANY AND ITALY

Florence's Santa Maria Novella station is one of the few modern, 20th century buildings in the central city.

It has an outstanding family accessible restroom (you push a button and they let you in without charging you the one euro fee that everyone else pays.)

It also has a restaurant, souvenir shop, news stand, and pharmacy -- where you can buy tickets on the run.

You can also stand in line to buy a ticket from a live person, or use the very easy to understand, multilingual automated ticket machines.

For our trip to Lucca, we were a bit concerned about the arrival city.

Lucca itself is fabulous, one of the few cities in Italy that still has its Medieval wall entirely intact.

It's just that Lucca is a relatively small train station and we wondered about assistance.

Not to worry, a trio of helpers were there on arrival.

For the return trip, our train departed from a center platform.

Lucca doesn't have elevators, it has strong workers (pictured above with Heidi) who gingerly "bump" wheelchair users along the tracks to get back up to the center platform.

All was well from Lucca back to Santa Maria Novella.

email: salablu.firenze@rfi.it

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=052ff172e719a110VgnVCM1000003f16f90aRCRD

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW, JULY 14

Thursday, July 12, 2012

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS VIA TRENITALIA'S SALABLU -- PART 2

SALABLU DISABLED PASSENGER SERVICE BY TRENITALIA MAKES MAKES RAIL SERVICE ACCESSIBLE THROUGHOUT TUSCANY AND ITALY

Once aboard, we were in an accessible train car, with spaces for a wheelchair.

There also was the option of transferring to an accessible seat (Heidi doing so, pictured above) and folding up the wheelchair for the journey.

A huge, 100% wheelchair-accessible restroom was located very close to us.

When we neared the station in Siena, a conductor was on board to make sure we made it to the portable accessible platform device in that ancient city.

Having the conductor approach us made a huge difference, as we feared we could not get off the train without assistance.

On the return trip, a worker was there about a half hour before departure to show us how to use a series of elevators and a portable lift to board the return train even from the center track platform.

email: salablu.firenze@rfi.it

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=052ff172e719a110VgnVCM1000003f16f90aRCRD

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW, JULY 13

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS VIA TRENITALIA'S SALABLU


SALABLU DISABLED PASSENGER SERVICE BY TRENITALIA MAKES MAKES RAIL SERVICE ACCESSIBLE THROUGHOUT TUSCANY AND ITALY

We love public transit, but we always have a bit of trepidation about relying on trains to get us from one point to another -- when barrier-free access is the question and language barrier might prevent an answer.

Thankfully, the Salablu service by Italy's Trenitalia national passenger rail service is flawless.

We were able to research information online (albeit in poorly translated English).

Best of all, we were able to email the Salablu folks at Florence's Santa Maria Novella station.

A person with an outstanding command of English emailed us back and forth and soon we were planning day trips to Siena and Lucca.

The day we arrived at the station, a crew of three was there to assist Heidi with a portable lift (pictured above) to give her a platform level with the entrance to the train.

email: salablu.firenze@rfi.it

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=052ff172e719a110VgnVCM1000003f16f90aRCRD

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW, JULY 12

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

GREAT FLORENCE WEBSITES -- PART 10




SILVIA NESTI, MAKER OF FINE JEWELRY 

Silvia Nesti has a fabulous little ateller on the ground floor of an ancient building on Via Dei Velluti, just east of Via Toscanella in the Oltrarno.

A stone's throw from the famed goldsmiths, silver smiths and jewelers of the Ponte Vecchio, her stunning creations are 100 times more interesting and a fraction of a cost of the old bridge's shops.

She is interested in folded jewelery -- a kind of Florentine origami -- and sells handmade pieces for as low as 40 euro.

Nesti has exhibited her jewellery in Italy, at Inhorgenta; in Munich, Germany and in Aura2007 at Burton Agnes Hall in Yorkshire. 

She completed her Jewellery education at Le Arti Orafe Jewellery School in Florence, Italy in 2005.

"At the moment I am developing my personal research in contemporary jewellery, working with materials like silver, gold, precious stones, and Japanese paper for Origami.

My research is based on the concept of folding, using a very important quality of metal, flexibility," she notes on her website.

Nesti, who designs and makes her own jewels, was awarded a recognized diploma as a goldsmith.

She also practices with soft and hard wax and enamelling.

Nesti attended a metal-forging workshop with Giovanni Corvaja, a renowned Italian goldsmith.

To see Silvia Nesti's latest collection, visit her website at:

www.silvianesti.com

Monday, July 9, 2012

GREAT FLORENCE WEBSITES -- PART 9


GIAMPIERO M. GALLO & THE FLORENTINE

When we were in Florence, we had the great pleasure of meeting Giampiero Gallo inside the historic Palazzo Vecchio.

Palazzo Vecchio has been the home of Florentine government for centuries and it also has priceless art treasures displayed throughout.

Mr. Gallo welcomed us to the city as a consigliere of the comunale -- basically, an elected city council member.

He is part of forward-thinking Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi's majority party, Gruppo Consiliare Partito Democratico.

We noticed that our new friend Giampiero was wearing a pin shaped like a bicycle.

It sparked a long conversation about walkability, bikeability and our favorite -- wheelchair accessibility.

A brilliant professor of economics, he speaks flawless English and understands that urban areas depend on being able to move people around without being car-dependent.

We found a great interview with him in The Florentine, the online site of the great English language newspaper of Firenze.

The article is here:


Gallo's academic website is here:



Sunday, July 8, 2012

GREAT FLORENCE WEBSITES -- PART 8




PALAZZO MEDICI RICCARDI -- FIRENZE

In the words of its operators:

Medici Riccardi Palace is one the most important monuments in Florence, a prototype of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. 

Medici Riccardi Palace hosts temporary exhibitions and experimental virtual environment for museums and galleries.

As an added bonus, courtesy of PBS's outstanding Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance series, here is a reading list of excellent books about Florence, the Medici and the Renaissance period:
  • April Blood - Florence and the Plot against the Medici - Lauro Martines
  • Brunelleschi's Dome - Ross King
  • Catherine de'Medici - Leonie Frieda
  • Cosimo de'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance - Dale Kent
  • Dynasty and Destiny in Medici Art - Janet Cox Rearick
  • Florence and the Medici - J.R Hale
  • Florentine politics 1502 - 1515 - Humfrey Butters
  • Galileo - Courtier - Mario Biagioli
  • Galileo's Daughter - Dava Sobel
  • Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling - Ross King
  • Patronage - Art and Society in Renaissance Italy - F.W. Kent
  • The French wars of Religion - R. J. Knecht
  • The Last of the Medici - Harold Acton
  • The Lives of the Artists - Giorgio Vasari
  • The Pope's Elephant - Silvio Bedini
  • The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli
  • The Renaissance Bazaar - Jerry Brotton
  • The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank - Raymond de Roover
  • The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici - Christopher Hibbert
  • The Rise of the Medici - Faction in Florence 1426-1434 - Dale Kent
 http://www.palazzo-medici.it

Saturday, July 7, 2012

GREAT FLORENCE WEBSITES -- PART 7


THE MEDICI ARCHIVE PROJECT

In the website's own words:

Since its foundation in the early 1990s, the Medici Archive Project (MAP) has been innovating new strategies for research in the Humanities. 

During the early stages of its existence, MAP’s mission was to merge archival research with technological innovations for data management. 

A pioneering group of scholars began to catalog in a rudimentary electronic database the letters of one of the most exhaustive and complete courtly archives of early modern Europe: the Medici Granducal Archival Collection (Mediceo del Principato).

This archival collection ― comprising over four-million letters distributed in 6,429 volumes and occupying a mile of shelf space ― covers a chronological span of two hundred years, from 1537 to 1743. 

It documents the political, diplomatic, gastronomic, economic, artistic, scientific, military and medical culture of early modern Tuscany and Europe.

http://www.medici.org/

Friday, July 6, 2012

GREAT FLORENCE WEBSITES -- PART 6


MUSEO GALILEO

Formerly the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, this museum rightfully honors the name of one of Florence's most enlightened mind.

We all remember from school that Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution.

The Medicis not only were patrons to the great artists of Florence.

They also sponsored a great many scientists seeking enlightenment.

Galileo perfected the telescope and greatly advanced the study of gravity and buoyancy under the wing of the Medici.

Unfortunately, he was so enlightened, that he figured out that the earth revolved around the sun, not vice versa.

This ran afoul of the Catholic Church and he was silenced by the Roman Inquisition.

The Medicis could have gone out on a limb to protect him, but they needed the support of the Vatican to maintain their vast wealth -- so the great Galileo died a broken and silenced man.

Much of his works, along with collections of the Medici, are on display at his museum.

Located on the bank of the River Arno in the 11th century Palazzo Castellani, the Galileo museum is wheelchair-accessible.

http://www.museogalileo.it/en/index.html