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The Botanical Garden in Florence will Reopen April 1

March 28, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

Good news! It is officially confirmed, Florence’s Botanical Garden, the Giardino dei Semplici, will reopen April 1st. Hours will be 10am to 5:30pm with reduced ticket admission (3 euro).

We thank everyone who has already contributed to the restoration of the gardens through the crowd-funding project on PlanBee. Another heavy rain storm at the start of March delayed some of the work in the garden, so the campaign has been extended until May 21st, when official celebrations for the reopening will also take place.

For more details on the crowd-funding campaign, read our blog post about it here.

The Middle Ages on the Road

March 27, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

Portolan Chart – Rutters, from Maiorca, circa 1440, parchment – “Rutters” were the first maps to show known lands realistically and to scale, focusing in particular on the ports along the coasts (this their Italian name)

Whether you’re attracted by the Medieval period or not, the special exhibit that just opened at the Bargello last week will likely make you rethink your interest. Since living in Tuscany, I’ve found the Middle Ages to be a fascinating time in history. The signs of that period still evident in Tuscany (just think of San Gimignano and Siena) makes it even more interesting to explore and learn by just observing.

The temporary exhibit, “The Middle Ages on the Road“, opened at the Bargello museum on March 20th and will continue until June 21st. Whether you’re interested in this exhibit or not, I highly recommend visiting the Bargello if you’re interested in sculpture. It has a magnificent collection of masterpieces by Michelangelo, Cellini, Ammanati, Donatello, Giambologna and more. I love sculpture so really jump at any chance I can get to return to this museum.

The exhibit itself is quite small, in just two rooms on the ground floor at the back of the courtyard. But in these two rooms, the exhibition curators have managed to bring together a fine collection of Medieval objects pertaining to “travel” in one sense or another from the collections of four important museums across Europe. In 2011, these four museums – the Bargello in Florence, the Musée de Cluny in Paris, the Schnütgen in Cologne and the Museu Episcopal di Vic just outside of Barcelona – created the “Network of Museums with Medieval Art” to promote the sculpture and works of applied art from the Medieval period that belonged in their collections.

The exhibit takes place to celebrate the Bargello’s 150th anniversary – it was the first national museum after Italy’s unification in 1861, and is an “on the road” show, as it was on display in Paris’ Musée de Cluny from October 2014 through February 2015. The exhibit is divided into 5 sections which I think are a marvelous way to truly display the various types of “travel” occurring in the Middle Ages across Europe:

1. The Representation of the World – this is achieved through maps and geographical charts (shown at the top), including an ancient celestial globe. These show up what man knew as the world’s end at that time, the view Medieval men had of their world at the time. There are maps for pilgrims who traveled from Northern Europe down to Rome for the Jubilee in 1500, nautical charts from 1311, and navigational instruments.

Leather shoes worn by pilgrims

2. Saving your Soul: Pilgrims, Preachers, Clerics – rare examples of shoes, marks that identified one as a pilgrim, reliquaries purchased to take back home. Images of these pilgrims can be identified in stained glass windows, architectual sculpture and carvings.

3. War: the Crusades, Knights and Military Expeditions – Unfortunately, quite common for men to travel en mass across Europe for military reasons in those times. Florence and Siena themselves not even an hour away in today’s terms were at war for centuries. There are ancient manuscripts which illustrate scenes of the Crusades, or a poem retelling the noble deeds of traveling knights  and more.

4. Business trips: Merchants, bankers and messengers – on show are locked chests, bags for important letters of exchange, coins as well as tokens of recognition. To this section belong diplomatic emissaries and ambassadors, whose small, locked boxes could carry important letters.

Nuptial casket – 1500 circa, wood, painted and gilded leather, Paris, Musée de Cluny

5. Political and Social Visibility: Courtly transfers and Marriage parades – the last section covers the movement of courts, which I found to be particularly interesting. The kings and lords were in constant travel, moving from one palace to another. They never traveled alone, and had to travel with many comforts – think large chests and ables and chairs, as well. Showing off wealth, power and authority, these trips could be quite short but nonetheless impressive – just think of the young girls that were sent off from their home to their new family when they were married, having to carry along quite a dowry with them, just crossing their own town in beautiful bone and horn carved saddles, such as the two in the exhibit.

Marriage Parade Saddles – Germany, leather, wood, bone and horn – Florence, National Museum of the Bargello

Travel chest – France, 1500 circa, wood, iron and leather, Paris, Musée de Cluny

One of the most impressive pieces on display is this large tapestry that takes up an entire wall – I’ve chosen to only show you a close-up of the scene which shows the beautiful detail put into this creation. You’ll need to stop by at the Bargello to see the entire tapestry! ;-)

Tapestry – 1515-1530 circa, Northern Ffrance – A scene from “Prison of Love”, a Spanish romance written in 1490 by Diego de San Pedro. Here the scene is the “King’s Pardon”, tapestry, wool and silk, Paris, Musée de Cluny

Bargello Museum

Via del Proconsolo 4 – Florence
March 20 – June 21, 2015
Open everyday 8.15am-5pm except for the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month
Ticket 7 euro (includes exhibit) – 3,50 euro for EU citizens between 18 and 25 years old
Free for under 18, disabled

Easter Brunch for the Whole Family

March 26, 2015 by Lourdes Flores
rock-the-rabbit

Easter at the Hard Rock Cafe

I was at the Hard Rock Cafe this week to try out some of their most popular dishes (yummy!) and found out that this Sunday, March 29th, they are hosting a special Easter Brunch!

It is an event planned especially for families with children, as there will be an Easter egg hunt, crafts and entertainment and a magic show provided by Party Planners Firenze. You can choose between a rich brunch, either American or Italian style.

Brunch starts at 9:15am and costs € 10 per child and € 16 per adult. Kids under 2 years old will have free breakfast.

If you’re in Florence right now right before Easter, this is a chance to have your children experience a little of Easter in Florence and have a fun morning! Since space is limited, you do have to make reservations ahead of time – either by calling 055 277 841 or by emailing florence_sales2@hardrock.com.

The Giardino dei Semplici, Florence’s Botanical Garden, Needs your Help

March 13, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

Spring is arriving at Florence’s Botanical Gardens

At the end of last summer, on September 19, 2014 to be more precise, a freak hailstorm hit Florence. The city’s Botanical Garden, called the Giardino dei Semplici, was hard hit. The garden, started in 1545 for Cosimo I de’ Medici, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. The 2.5 hectares in Florence’s historical center offer a rich collection of centuries-old trees and potted plants, a patrimony of the entire world.


Watch the storm and aftereffects on the Botanical Garden

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Gerrit van Honthorst at the Uffizi Gallery

February 27, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

Gerrit van Honthorst, “The Happy Fiddler”, 1623, on loan from Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

The first exhibit of Florence’s rich program “Art for a Year” recently opened at the Uffizi Gallery and I had a chance to go see it on the first day. Gerrit van Honthorst, known as Gherardo delle Notti in Italy, was a Dutch Golden Age painter with the exhibit centered around his time in Italy in the early 17th century.

While I had seen his work at the Uffizi Gallery in the past (they are toward the end of the museum’s route), I have to admit that by the time I generally reach these rooms I am tired and ready to leave the museum. If you’re going to visit the Uffizi this will likely also happen to you, so I am asking you to plan ahead of time to leave yourself at least half an hour of “energy” to stop and go into the temporary exhibitions rooms and see the works by this artist, it is worth it!

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Ingress #Shonin in Florence

February 26, 2015 by Lourdes Flores


Were you in Florence last Saturday and noticed groups of people walking around dressed in either blue or green and wondered who they were? As we had anticipated and shared, Ingress by Niantic Labs @Google arrived in Florence in the form of an “anomoly” called Shonin. The two factions signed in and then headed on to Piazza Santa Croce for a group photo before the competition to “control Florence” begun.

We joined in the fun, playing for the Enlightened camp (the green team) and enjoyed walking around taking over and attacking portals. With over 2000 players from 17 countries, it was truly an international event in Florence.

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San Gimignano’s ‘900. Una Donazione

February 25, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

Renato Gattuso, Untitled (two corn husks), 1965,

Need a break from the medieval and Renaissance religious icons at churches and museums? Then head to San Gimignano, one of the most representative villages of Medieval architecture in Tuscany to discover contemporary works of art.

San Gimignano surprisingly has attracted many contemporary artists over the last half-century and now is home to the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art “Raffaele De Garda”. The Gallery’s core of permanent works all come from top Italian artists that answered the city’s call for donations over the last 40 years. It also annually hosts temporary exhibitions dedicated to contemporary work, including photography and sculpture.

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The first match of Calcio Storico Fiorentino ever, the Battle of the Siege

February 16, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

Calcio Storico Fiorentino – Match of the Siege of Florence

The Calcio Storico Fiorentino is a throwback to past times. It is played in costume (sort of) and the game of soccer/rugby/wrestling is played with the rules from the 16th century in Florence. Lots of things go, and it can get quite violent. In Florence, the main matches are always played in June, you can read more about it here.

In honor of the first match ever played on the 17th of February in 1530, a true historical reenactment of this first match will take place tomorrow in Piazza Santa Croce, 485 years after.

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A Dream of Contemporary Art

January 13, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

We have highlighted some of this artist’s work before, sharing his “mash-up” creations on our Instagram and Facebook. His name is Andrea, known as “@pomo_fi” on Instagram, and you can get a chance to see some of his incredible unique works of contemporary art for a few more days at the Merlino Bottega d’Arte at Le Murate, and if you fall in love with one of his unique masterpieces, buy one to take home! The show ends January 17, but if you can’t make it, you can still see more of his work through his Instagram profile.  You can also read a recent interview between our own Elena from Florence with Flair and Andrea here.

I went to take a peek yesterday, here’s Andrea in front of one of my favorites (“Through the Stars”) and a few more I particularly liked.

Free Museums the First Sunday of Every Month

January 2, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

David at the Accademia Gallery

Welcome to 2015 and our first post of the year!! We start off reminding everyone of the possibility of enjoying free admittance at your favorite museums this year…

In case you missed the news back in July 2014, every first Sunday of the month all State-run museums in Italy are free! For everyone!! All over Italy, not just Tuscany.

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