Wednesday, 28 April 2021

The iris garden in Florence is open from 2 May until 20 May, 2021.

One of the most pleasing sights in Florence at this time of year is the Iris Garden, located just below Piazza Michelangelo and the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte on the southern heights overlooking Florence. The Iris garden will be open to the public from 2 May 2021 until 20 May 2021.

The Iris Garden of Florence is the only one in Europe dedicated to the iris and it houses over 1500 varieties of the iris, which is, of course, the symbol of Florence.

The garden is managed by the Italian Iris Society and is open to the public for one month a year between April and May, the period of the spring flowering. This year the opportunity to stroll through the avenues and hills covered with irises and olive trees will be from 2 to 20 May, from 10:00 am to 6:00 PM (with last entry at 5.30 pm).

As always, admission is free, but for those who want, scheduled guided tours are held every Sunday and on public holidays at 11 am and 4 pm, with a contribution of 5 euros per person.


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Monday, 26 April 2021

17th century fresco uncovered in the Uffizi during covid-19 closure.

It seems that work continued in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence while they were closed as part of the battle against Covid-19. During renovation work, lost frescoes were discovered. The director of the Uffizi, Eike Schmidt, said that the six months of closure were put to good use, renovating 14 new rooms that will open to the public next month, and discovering frescoes that would otherwise have remained hidden. The previously hidden frescoes include a life-size figure of a young Cosimo II de Medici dating from the 1600s, as well as decorative plant motifs from the 1700s on the walls and ceiling of nearby rooms.

Newly uncovered fresco in the Uffizi depicting Cosimo II de Medici


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Are the museums open in Florence?

 As the traditional tourism season approaches and we all hope for Italy to be able to re-open to visitors, the question is "Are the museums open in Florence?" The answer is YES some sights opened today since Tuscany, along with most but not all of Italy, is now in Covid status "orange", and others will open during the course of May 2021. The Regions are opening up and relaxing their anti-covid precautions as the number of new infections continues to drop.

The Duomo (Cathedral) of Florence is open for visitors from Monday to Saturday, 10:15 am - 5:00 pm and access to the dome itself is possible daily 12:45 - 7:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday 12:45 - 5:30 pm. 


 On 16 May, Giotto’s Campanile will reopen daily 12:45 - 7:00 pm, and the Opera del Duomo Museum will be open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays 10:15 am - 5 pm. The Baptistery remains closed for restoration. 


On Tuesday, April 27, the Boboli Gardens reopen daily (apart from the first Monday of the month) 8:15 am - 6:30 pm.


The Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti will reopen on 4 May. Opening hours (Uffizi): 8:15 am - 6:30 pm. Opening hours (Palazzo Pitti): 1:30 - 6:30 pm. Booking is now required at weekends to limit numbers, but bookings are not required for other days.


 

The Palazzo Vecchio is open daily 9:00 am - 7:00 pm and 9:00 am - 2:00 pm on Thursdays. 

The Museo Novecento is open daily 11:00 am - 7:00 pm and 1100 am - 2:00 pm on Thursdays. 

The Brancacci Chapel is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 10:00 am - 5:00 pm.

 

The Bardini Gardens are open 10:00 am - 6:00 pm until at least the end of May. Booking is required on the weekend and on holidays.


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Sunday, 4 April 2021

Historical libraries of Florence, Italy

The historical libraries of Florence preserve some of the most important book, periodical and manuscript collections in Europe. One or two of them are in themselves works of art, ranking among the most beautiful in the world.

The most beautiful libraries of Florence

La Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze


La Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze
Reading room of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze
Let's begin with the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze because it is the largest library in Italy, housing as it does more than six million volumes. The library was founded in 1714 and opened to the public under the name Biblioteca Magliabechiana in 1774 which of course long predates the formation of the modern country of Italy. That's why this national library is located in Florence. There is also a large National Library in Rome, founded in 1876, and a much smaller one in Naples, the splendid Biblioteca nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III.

Since 1935, the collections of the BNCF have been housed in a neo-classical structure designed by Bazzani and Mazzei, and located near the Arno in the Santa Croce district. Tragically, as a consequence of its location, the 1966 flood damaged nearly one third of the library's holdings, most notably its periodicals, and the Palatine and Magliabechi collections, and some were irrecoverably lost.

The reading room is severely neoclassical, making it, for me, the least attractive of Florence's important libraries.

La Biblioteca degli Uffizi


La Biblioteca degli Uffizi
The reading room of the Biblioteca degli Uffizi in Florence
The Uffizi Library, much frequented by art historians but much less known to the general public, was founded in the second half of the 18 C by the Grand Duke Peter Leopold and over the years has specialised in the field of art history. The Uffizi Library was housed up until 1998 in the part of Vasari’s complex that was originally the ridotto or foyer of the Medici Theatre. The new location was opened on 16 December 1998 in the renovated areas previously occupied by the Biblioteca Magliabechiana, under the porch, near the entrance to the gallery. It's not a large library, but has very good holdings of periodicals. The 78,600 titles include 470 manuscripts, 5 incunabula, 192 sixteenth-century books, 1,445 books printed between 1601 and 1800 and 1,136 periodicals. The reading room is quite spectacular, as we would expect in a part of the Uffizi.

La Biblioteca Marucelliana


La Biblioteca Marucelliana Firenze
The reading room of the Biblioteca Marucelliana in Florence
The Marucelliana Library is the result of a bequest by Abbot Francesco Marucelli, from whom the library takes its name. The donation of this rich and substantial library was made with the express aim of facilitating study by young people from the poorer sector of the Florentine populace. It was opened to the public in 1752. The structure was built specifically to house the library. Construction (1747–1751) on Via Cavour was directed by the architect Dori who had won the public contest for the design. By the late 18 C, space was becoming tight, so that the library had to be expanded beyond the original building into the adjacent Palazzi Della Stufa and Pegna, and the ground floor of the Palazzo Fenzi Dardinelli. Although not great architecture, the Marucelliana Library has a wonderfully homely feeling about it - a bibliophile's paradise!

La Biblioteca Riccardiana


La Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence
The reading room of the Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence
The Riccardian Library was founded in 1600 by Riccardo Riccardi and was moved to its present location in 1670. In 1715, it was opened to the public. In 1812, there was a risk of the library being auctioned off, but the Florence authorities were authorised by the Government to buy it, which they did in 1813 and two years later it was sold to the state. I'm a sucker for Baroque libraries, and so you can readily imagine, I come and spend a bit of time in the Biblioteca Riccardiana whenever I need a bit of aesthetic relaxation. The library is packed with treasures. For example, it holds a copy of Pliny's Historia naturalis dating from the 10 C and an autograph manuscript of the Florentine Histories of Niccolò Machiavelli.

La Biblioteca Moreniana

La Biblioteca Moreniana
The Biblioteca Moreniana in Florence
In the same building as the Riccardian Library, the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, we have Morenian Library which speciliases in the history and culture of Tuscany. The library originated with the acquisition in 1870 by the Florentine authorities of the library assembled by Pietro Bigazzi. The most important foundations of the collection were parts of the library of Domenico Maria Manni and that of Domenico Moreni, compiler of the annotated historical bibliography of Tuscany (1805), and consisting mostly of documents relating to the history and culture of Tuscany. Subsequent acquisitions included collections formed by other scholars and gatherers Tuscan antiquities such as enthusiasts like Giuseppe Palagi, Emilio Frullani and Giovanni Antonio Pecci. In 1942, the library was opened to the public in the historical setting of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi next to the Biblioteca Riccardiana. In recent decades, other manuscripts of particular interest for the history of Tuscany have become part of the library's patrimony including of books by Rubieri-Zannetti, Rosini and Ombrosi Frullani). Since 1978, the library has been managed directly by the Province of Florence while continuing to share some public services with the Biblioteca Riccardiana.

Biblioteca dell'Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze


Biblioteca dell'Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze
Biblioteca dell'Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze
The Library of the Academy of Fine Arts is located on via Ricasoli, next door to the Galleria dell'Accademia where the original statue of David is displayed. The library first saw the light of day in 1801 with the purchase, sponsored by Giovanni Degli Alessandri, the then president of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze and director of the Uffizi, of the library belonging to the architect Giuseppe Salvetti. The library contains texts relating to the history of art and music. The reading room is quite small with a pleasing ambience with a number of fine sculptures decorating the space.

La Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana


La Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence
La Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence
The Laurentian Library is one of the major collections of manuscripts in the world and a major architectural gems of Florence. The library was designed by Michelangelo between 1519 and 1534, but work was completed only in 1571. Laurentian Library was built in a cloister of the Medicean Basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze under the patronage of the Medici pope, Clement VII, to emphasize that the Medici family were no longer mere merchants but members of "the better classes". To me, this library is one of the most perfect, in architectural terms, in the world. Even leaving that aside, the library contains the manuscripts and books belonging to the private library of the Medici family, the collection now amounting to about 11,000 manuscripts, 2,500 papyri, 43 ostraca, 566 incunabula, 1,681 16 C prints, and 126,527 prints of the 17 C to 20C. Changing exhibitions allow one to view and study these incredible treasures.

More about the Laurentian Library.

Il Gabinetto Scientifico Letterario G. P. Vieusseux


Il Gabinetto Scientifico Letterario G. P. Vieusseux
Conference room of the Vieusseux Library in Florence
The Vieusseux Library in Piazza Strozzi was founded in 1819 in Florence by Giovan Pietro Vieusseux, a Genovese banker, merchant and publisher. The reading room made leading European periodicals available to Florentines and visitors from abroad in a setting that encouraged conversation and the exchange of ideas so that the library soon became a cosmopolitan meeting point of Italian and European culture. A circulating library with the latest publications in Italian, French and English was later installed next to the reading room. Numerous literary Italians, among them Giacomo Leopardi and Alessandro Manzoni, frequented the Gabinetto Vieusseux when they were in Florence, as did literary foreign residents and visitors, including Stendhal, Schopenhauer, James Fenimore Cooper, Thackeray, Dostoevsky, Mark Twain, Émile Zola, André Gide, Kipling, Aldous Huxley and D. H. Lawrence. The warm 19 C conference room is the part of the library most familiar to the public.

The Berenson Library at Villa I Tatti


Berenson Library at Villa I Tatti

Berenson Library at Villa I Tatti

The most recent foundation in our list is the Berenson Library which is a part of Villa I Tatti, the home of the art historian Bernard Berenson for most of his life and now an Italian Renaissance research institute belonging to Harvard University. Villa I Tatti located outside Florence close to the municipal boundary with Fiesole and near Settignano. Bernard Berenson lived there from 1900 and the adjoining library and art collection were designed for him in 1936. Berenson was a fastidious man in himself (personally - although it tormented him, his relationship with the art dealer Duveen and others was not quite so fastidious) and not surprisingly his library is exquisite. He accumulated (and often read) a huge number of art historical books and periodicals, and these form the basis of this, one of the most beautiful and complete small libraries created during the 20 C.

Historical villas of Tuscany.

Historical gardens of Tuscany.


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Thursday, 1 April 2021

Tuscany celebrates the 700th anniversary of Dante's death

The year 2021 is the 700th anniversary of Dante's death. Throughout the year there will be events and celebrations of the great poet. If I were asked whose life marks the boundary in literature between the Mediaeval world and the Modern world, I would be hard put to choose between Shakespeare and Dante, even though Shakespeare died 300 years after Dante.

In any case, I will be posting here items about Dante that appeal to me, starting today with the report of the discovery of two triplets from the Divine Comedy that are not present in the current canonical text

In the holdings of the National Library in Florence, an incunabulum, printed in Venice on 1 April 1493, has been found containing one of the very first printed editions of the Divine Comedy, which, in addition to showing interesting variations to the currently known text, presents two triplets totally unknown until today. The verses refer to Canto VI of Purgatory, in which Dante has a vision of the future - or so the Comune of Florence would have us believe, according to their Instagram page (where else?).

Quando si parte il gioco della Viola,
Colui che perde si riman dolente
E il tristo colpo gli rimane in gola:
Ben lo imparò la bianconera gente,
La qual, credendo andare innanzi,
ratto lo gol in sua rete si trova.

HOWEVER, please note that this announcement was made on 1 April!

Here's my rough translation:

When the game of the Viola begins,
He who loses remains sore
And the sad blow stays stuck in his throat:
The Black and White people learned it well,
Those who, thinking to advance,
Find a rat has placed a goal in their net.

Here's what lies behind this joke:

The ancient aversion of Fiorentina (Viola - Florence) to Juventus (Black and White - Turin) dates back to 1928, the first competitive fixture between the two clubs. On 7 October of that year, in fact, in Turin, the Bianconeri defeated the Viola team, winning 11-0. The next day a Turin newspaper headlined: "Firenze, un…dici nulla?" "Florence, uh ... are you not saying anything?", a pun on 11 (undici) to 0 (nulla), the final score in favour of Turin - an affront never forgotten by the Viola fans.

Oh - and here's the manuscript - strange that in Venice in 1493 they embossed ACF and the Fleur de Lis of Florence on the cover!

See you here in Tuscany soon!

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