This year’s exhibition at Forte Belvedere is Gong – “It is an almost shamanic exercise, aimed at exploring the sublime of the cosmos, the orbits of the planets and stars, the rhythms and geometries that belong to the infinite universe, so as to draw stellar maps that today, just like millions of years ago, also function in symbolic, ritualistic terms.” byArtistEliseo Mattiacci
Unfortunately the guardian of this enormous Gong did not allow the public to go wild and give it a good bash. It was definitely the best exhibit!
An unusual presentation of grand metal structures, which did not enthuse me as much as other exhibitions I had seen and posted about in years gone by. But then it’s always a good excuse to revisit one of the most peaceful and panoramic places of Florence during the Summer period of tourist crowds.
We waited for Aliens to land in the middle of ‘Cosmic Order‘….alas in vain, and then headed inside the Fortress to relax in the shade.
We were in for a treat later at sunset with a wine tasting from one of the historic vineyards of Tuscany – Frescobaldi. To be followed by an itinerant theatre performance from “LaCompagnia delle Seggiole” who regularly perform at historic sites, bringing to life tales of the place and characters that were part of its history. And what better time to see the Fortress, as the sun’s rays bathe Florence and fade into the city’s night lights.
Forte Belvedere is the second and largest fortress to be built in Florence in1590 – 1595, by order of Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici.
Fortifications were significant in the 16th century and at that period in Florence a demonstration of the Medici’s power and wealth. Its location is strategic as it overlooks almost the entire city and surrounding area. In addition to this, the fort served as a garrison for troops for over 100 years after its completion.
Our theatre performers are part of that garrison, ‘a garrison that awaits the enemies, the siege, the never ending wait, the miraculous hour that at least once touches everyone’.
Since the enemies do not arrive, and life passes inexorable, the garrison addresses us with what it sees every day, what is understood of that place and the city seen from up there’ A humorous mix of daily issues that confront the soldiers and demands of the Medici family to ensure their personal protection and the defence of their city.
Photo credits La Compagnia delle Seggiole
An entertaining insight into the characters that lived and defended our beautiful city of Florence from these ancient walls.
The Dragon Boat Festival in Florence of Breast Cancer Survivors has ended and we are dearly missing these wonderful women, so full of energy, courage and spirit. Living up to the motto of the IBCPC- International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission – ” Never stop trying, never stop believing, never give up and Paddles up!” Over 121 Teams and supporters made up the 4,000 participants from more than 18 countries with the Festival area a blaze of pink and colourful Team shirts and costumes.
Many Teams had a composite of members, sometimes not even from the same country, to guarantee there was a full boat of 22 as not everyone could afford the trip or time off from work and family commitments. But that never stopped their amazing comradeship and caring sisterhood. After all they were not here to win as they are already winners just by being alive! A mixed age group of young and old and some with obvious signs of post cancer or relapse and various disabilities associated with age, But there was no stopping them, even under the hot July sun and 33+ degrees heat.
It was an honour and loads of fun for us bilingual Ambassadors to be welcomed by the Teams with open arms, assisting them in wading through some of the logistics and daily issues that arose during the Festival,
And the City of Florence became aware of their presence as they paraded from the Pitti Palace across the Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo Vecchio in a lively multicoloured procession, chanting, singing and waving to the crowds.
The next day they were swapping Team pins and trinkets between the various stands. Participation was the key word rather than winning as they caught up with friends from previous Festivals and made new ones, even among some of us working as volunteers or Ambassadors for Teams. Their sense of humour was infectious and Team names were no exception in capturing their fighting spirit – ‘Missin’ Mammaries, Dambusters ( Dragons Abreast Melbourne), Mammoglams, Breast of Friends, Boobops, Wonder Woman’s Warriors….!!’ To name just a few.
Before the races many had the chance to paddle from the Private Canoe Club at the Uffizi under the Ponte Vecchio, giving them a whole new perspective of paddling the Arno river and a great photo opportunity since the races would be held way downstream. Afterwards they couldn’t resist a Team song and I couldn’t resist a paddle!
Then it was time to warm up for the races at the Cascine Park, each Team having it’s own style and often bopping along to the loudspeaker music.
Into the marshalling area and down to the embarkation pontoons. Five teams each race, paddling up to the start and racing down 500m. No easy feat steering and paddling and an absolute inspiration to watch and cheer them on! Two days of continual racing and these fabulous ‘Dragons’ never let up, with hugs of joy and encouragement, sharing the thrills and spills right till the end.
And then the most moving ceremony as closure to this wonderful Festival when the dragon boats locked together as a raft on the river and thousands of women and supporters lined the river bank and threw a flower in memory of those who never made it. Such an emotional farewell as they swayed to the music, arms locked together amid smiles and tears on tears…… Something that will remain in my heart forever.
As we all moved across to the Park for the final farewell speeches a French Team kept us entertained…..There is nothing that will stop these women and I have nothing but admiration for what they do and think I will need to take up paddling! The Dragon Boat Festival 2018 will live on in our memories and we wish all the best to these fantastic Dragons!
Dragon Fever has spread amongst the population of Florence as the place prepares for the Dragon Boat Festival2018. It’s the first International festival for breast cancer survivors to be held in Europe and the Florentine organizers from ‘Firenze in Rosa’ (Florence in Pink)have been working non-stop to coordinate preparations for the event.
Bilingual volunteers were called upon from the expat communities in January, which dragged loads of us out of the woodwork to be ‘Ambassadors‘ to a Team to ensure they have all the information and assistance they need to make their stay in Florence and their participation in the event a successful one. Meetings and emails have continued to circulate ever since as we begin to know our Team members and travelling supporters and answer their various queries. There was a bit of a kerfuffle when we saw the uniform included shorts…..as many mature age volunteers are not ‘shorts’ people!?
Another massive call to the general community for other volunteers to help at arrival/departure, registration time, people traffic control, assembling tents, manning Red Cross boats, medical services on land, embarkation and debarkation….the list is endless. And delighted to see a large group of African refugees volunteering and much appreciated since they are strong young men, speaking French, so can handle more of the physical jobs and translate for the French speakers.
Over 4000 participants from around the world – a major participation from Australia of 900, America, Canada, some South American countries –Argentina and Brazil, many European countries with single teams and 1 Team from Singapore.
I had never heard of it, nor even knew what a Dragon Boat looked like and it has been a fun time understanding what the Festival is all about. An amazing bunch of courageous women who have survived breast cancer and showing their strength and vitality in paddling Dragon Boats – that has to be an inspiration to us all!
There are 22 team members per boat – 20 paddlers, a drummer to keep the paddle rhythm and the ‘sweep’ or steerer standing at the rear of the boat.
Florentine Team members and supporters
Last Saturday Florence held it’s own Dragon boat festival which was something of a test run to the major event to be held in the first week of July. It was on the Arno river next to the Cascine Park which is the largest green area of the city and a favourite place for joggers, cyclists and dog walkers.
Dragon boats were off loaded and the various teams began warm up exercises before launching, somewhat precariously, these sleek long boats onto the Arno.
These teams were mixed sexes and not necessarily breast cancer survivors however the judges of the event were the pink ladies from LILT – Italian League for the Fight against Cancer, and it was a fun day. Lots of hilarity, the rhythmic ‘tum, tum, tum…’, a few lost paddles and a couple of wet paddlers!
I am excited about the coming Dragon Boat Festival and looking forward to meeting my ‘Dragons’ from Dragons Abreast Team Inspiration…..and of course will be doing a follow up blog after the event.
A rather ordinary exterior hides a magical paradise on the outskirts of Florence – the Asmana Wellness Centre. And while I rarely promote commercial activities think this place is an exception to the rule and rarely found by tourists. It is an enormous luxury complex of relaxation – warm pools indoor and out with spas,vortices and waterfalls, indoor relaxation rooms, sauna, foam baths, and Hamman with enriching wellness ceremonies.Who could ask for more?
And incredible as it may sound, no mobile phones are allowed…or only as far as the changing room wardrobe!! An enormous relief, no beeps, tings, pop song ringtones, disturb the enticing tranquil atmosphere. The calming ambience induces people to converse quietly, more frivolity in the pools as we all play like kids amongst the vortices and waterfalls while other areas, like the Hamman total silence is the norm.
I have always delighted in Hot Springs having discovered them first in Italy, my favourites being Bagno Vignoni and Rapolano Terme, south of Siena. A good soak in these Springs is a super way to de-stress, alleviate various aches and pains, increase blood circulation and generally lay back. After all populations world wide have been enjoying the therapeutic benefits for centuries.
The pools in the Asmana Wellness Centre are heated water only but still as beneficial and the Hamman brought back fond memories of my time in Iran. A similar design without the elaborate tiles typical of the ancient Hamman in Iran.
Ancient Hamman Shiraz and Kerman, Iran
Multi sensory experiences are offered by the Master of ceremonies in the Sauna and Hamman areas. As Asmana describes: ‘rituals of different origin, handed down over time from distant civilizations.Moments when time and space can dilate and allow you to enter a dimension of pure pleasure…..Only by recovering a balance between mind and body sensations and emotions can take you to distant worlds.’ We were already convinced and ready for the trip.
On return from our cultural voyage in the salt and cocoa ceremony we tour the relaxation rooms, like the Fire Room, Salt room, the Temple….with sumptuous cushions, water beds, hanging chairs and swinging lounges, inebriating aromas and lulling music delightfully lure us to explore till we lounge quietly in the Room of Nests to the sweet tweeting of birds.
Our four hours of sensory experiences and relaxation vanishes quickly and we need to face reality, find our wardrobe and embrace the night air of Florence.
The place is magic, accessible by bus from Florence and even being a tourist can be stressful so some time out is well deserved. For more details and photos check the Asmana Wellness Centre website
The Humans of 2015 are now just a skeleton this year in the ‘Ytalia’ Art Exhibitionat Forte di Belvedere, Florence! No bones about it Florence never fails to surprise me!
As I wandered up to the Fort I thought of the other exhibitions that had fired my passion or uninspired me, yet I always return to this fantastic location and never get tired of the fabulous panorama.
Last year’s Jan Fabre ‘Spiritual Guards’ had an overdose of beetles and crosses for my taste. Although I did like the gold turtle in the main square of Florence. While the Zhang Huan‘s exhibition of Buddhas ‘Soul and Matter’had been a startling reopening to the fortress in 2013.
This year we are treated to polystyrene fiberglass bones covered in gypsum which precariously sway in the breeze and for safety and security reasons have to be tied down!
by Gino de Domincis
The Ytalia exhibition – presented 100 Contemporary Italian works of Art about Energy, Thoughts and Beauty to demonstrate, as the pamphlet blurb read: “how Italian Art has strongly influenced the international artistic community and has been a model to admire the perfect balance between classicism and anticlassicality, eclecticism and purism, invention and citation, immanence and transcendence.”
I have my doubts that the exhibition lived up to its promise but it was still well worth the visit.
Lots of beautiful marble alongside rusty iron and the geometric nature of the exhibits lures the eye into labyrinths and techno prints reflecting Fibonacci’s sequence.
A splash of colour inside the building seems totally unconnected….
and other weird to the absurd exhibits leave me pretty flat!
I am constantly drawn back to the panorama of Brunelleschi’s dome seen between oscillating bleached ribs and lassoed toes, or about to be blow-dried…..
And the typical Tuscan view of cypress trees, olive groves and a stray castle tower at the back of the fortress, while stumbling through marble blocks much to the disdain of the Fort custodian!
So just in case you are in Florence, there is still time to see the ‘Ytalia’ exhibition as it remains open until the 1st Oct and there are more exhibits dotted about town – the Basilica of Santa Croce, Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. I would suggest Forte Belvedere any year you may be over for the view, the relaxing alfresco wine and café bar and the cheap entrance fee!
I could not contain my delight on hearing the Arch of Triumph, the copy made for Palmyra, Syria was on display in Florence for a month. In timing with the first ever G7 Ministers Summit on Culture which Italy promoted on taking over the presidency of the G7.
With the premise “Culture as a tool for dialogue between the people…The international community will thus reaffirm its commitment to recover and preserve the heritage of mankind damaged by natural disasters, hit during conflict and attacked by terrorism and in combating illicit trafficking of cultural property. Among the objectives of the summit is the need for agreement on a cultural component in peacekeeping missions promoted by the United Nations and to make the summit of Ministers of Culture permanent at the next G7.”
Florence is the perfect setting for such an event and the Palmyra Arch of Triumph “has become a true global symbol of the triumph of cooperation over conflict, optimism over despair and human ingenuity over senseless destruction.”
I am provincial enough to say I am so very Tuscan proud of the Italian capacity to conceive the idea and the craftsmanship that built it….it’s been in their DNA for centuries!
I leave you with more details from my post of 24/4/2016:
As I watched the building of the antique marble arch of Palmyra in Syria I could not be more impressed by Italian creativity and talent in using the most update technology of 3D printers to recreate a work of art destroyed in the civil conflict in Syria. While never to replace the original it is still heartening to see the use of the current technology in recreating such a masterpiece. Congratulations to the company -TorArt- which has succeeded in the project, working together with the Institute of Digital Archeology.
Fascinated as I am by the new technology ( see my previous blog on Makers) I am even more impressed by seeing it used to enormous benefits of us all.
TorArt machinery at work – Photo credits TorArt
And to think it is on my doorstep, by workers from Fantascritti quarry in Carrara, Tuscany, adds an extra note of pride for their ingenuity and craftsmanship. The arch went on display in Trafalgar Square London 19th April, and will go to New York, Dubai and then home to Syria.
Arch in Trafalgar Square Photo credit Lucy Glasser
It also brought back fond memories of various tours I had taken to the quarry of Fantascritti where a retiree of the quarry –Walter Danesi, had created an outstanding museum dedicated to the difficulties and hardships involved in extracting the most beautiful marble in the world. Marble that has created masterpieces, like Michelangelo’s David and more.
The difficulties can be seen here in the photos from the quarry museum, where many have risked their lives over the centuries and continue to do so. The last unfortunate accident on site was but 10 days ago when two workers were crushed under tons of marble and a third rescued as he remained suspended in the air. Not surprisingly the area of Carrara has been known to be a strong anarchist haunt as Man challenges the elements of Nature and the ongoing pressure of extraction to meet today’s demands.
Walter Danesi always had lots of stories to tell of his time as a quarry worker and gave a warm welcome to my tour groups and my family. He wrote a dedication in his book which I cherish “To lovely Susi, with admiration, Walter Danesi”
So if you are ever in the area of Carrara, about an hour from Pisa or Lucca, drive up to the Fantascritti Quarry to see for yourselves the marvel of marble and the incredible effort that has gone into it’s extraction and sculpting. Be warned though, it is still a working Quarry and the truck drivers don’t take kindly to visitors on the long windy road…..understandably!
Brunelleschi ranted and raved as he led us personally to the Altar in the Santo Spirito church in Florence – justone of the personalities we were to meet from the itinerant Theatre group – La Compagnia delle Seggiole. This genius who had designed the Dome on the Cathedral of Florence some years earlier, was grumbling about how his plans for this church had been modified after his death. He vent his frustration on his local patrons who had not permitted the destruction of the dwellings facing the Arno river, as he had rather boldly designed the church to face the river! While he had begun designs for the project around 1428, work did not commence until 1444 and since he died 2 years after he never saw the completion…..at least not until his return this evening!
Monna Giovanna (the voce of the local people) swept past and told him to stop grumbling as she recounted life in the area amidst the wool workers and dyers.
I love storytellers and this theatre group has taken me through many monumental buildings in Florence and historical events like the dreadful flood in 1966.
The church is in Oltrano – the opposite side of the Arno river a less touristy area with the most beautiful plain façade (again not how Brunelleschi had planned). The Renaissance elegance so evident inside, and a rather lay back tree lined piazza outside created to eliminate the squalor that surrounded the church in the past. Even today it still has a hangover from its seedy past of drug dealing and alcoholics, replaced now by American students and hip bars and hangouts.
In1980 Mario Mariotti projected hundreds of outlandish slides on the façade, a ‘happening‘ considered advanced for its time and certainly Florentines remained impressed by the display. They were still talking about it in 1985 when I arrived and took me to a café in the piazza where oodles of photos of the slides almost completely covered the walls.
This evening instead was a step into the minds of the great artists of the time. A young Michelangelo appeared praising his recently departed patron Lorenzo the Magnificent for having left him under the protection of the Convent of Santo Spirito. Here he could deepen his studies of anatomy by studying the corpses from the hospital and in thanks he carved the crucifix for the church, at the tender age of 18.
Michelangelo and crucifix
An entertaining experience as we wandered through the Cloisters of the Dead, accompanied by Giuliano da Sangallo, the architect of the octagonal Sacristy which houses Michelangelo’s crucifix. A stop to admire the frescoes of the refectory and later welcomed into the Vestibule by an Augustinian monk with more stories to tell.
Then it was time to say goodnight to our illustrious company and Monna Giovanna was quick to remind us that she will be taking us through the Museum of the Innocents as “Una Donna Innocente” next month!
On the 4th Nov, Florence called for the Mud Angels of the tragic flood of 1966 to return to Florence to participate in the Anniversary commemorations. The most dramatic flood to hit Italy since 1557 with flood levels reaching 5m high. Level signs along many streets and above shop windows remind us of the drama.
A flood that no one had expected or could imagine. Santa Croce was the worst hit area and the wooden crucifix by Cimabue (c1265), while restored, still bears massive scars from the flood.
Flood level 1557
Santa Croce church
A symbol of the 50th anniversary was the restoration of another masterpiece – Last Supper by Giorgio Vasari ( 1546) only just finished in time for the local and overseas visitors to admire. Paula Deitz, now an Editor of an Arts Journal, and curiously in Florence at the time of the flood, gives details of her experience and the restoration process here.
35 people died, 17 in Florence, 18 in Province, 70 horses at the race course and a favoured dromedary from the local zoo. Around 5,000 people remained homeless and 6,000 business were damaged. Prisoners in the city prison were released and housed by locals in upper floors of buildings, most of whom returned on their own volition to local authorities after the flood subsided!
Florence was without electricity, telephones went down and the city remained isolated for 3 days. Florentines had to rely on each other for assistance and passed requests along by shouting from window to window ” in via di Fico” all the way to the Town Hall for the Mayor to respond back, ” Received Palazzo Vecchio, Over ” Emergency supplies and teams gathered in the Soccer stadium and with whatever means – rubber dinghies, fishing waders, shutters laced together with paddles, brought basic supplies to those afflicted. For months after the city was nothing but slime and sludge with a disgusting smell of naphtha and sewage.
It mobilized the biggest international volunteer movement to save the city and its artistic heritage. Mud Angels, poured in from everywhere, personalities, clergy, art lovers and thousands of young students from the rest of Europe came to clean up the sludge from books and documents, and move artworks to safer abodes. It became a catalyst for new techniques in restoration, of which Florence is now famous.
‘Sotto una Gran Piova d’Acqua” Theatre
I relived the experience of the flood at a performance by an Itinerant theatre group – Teatro delle Seggiole who read from 3 diaries of the period: the Mayor of Florence, Piero Bargellini; a 16yr old lad; and the Director of a national newspaper, Enrico Matteo. It was a gripping account of the reality faced by Florentines before the arrival of outside assistance.
The Lad looks on from his window: “4.30am a crash. The course of the Arno, shortly after is in Piazza Mentana , curves right and rushes under the Ponte Vecchio. The lights of the Old Bridge are low. The current and its overflow has dragged tree trunks and rubbish which transforms the bridge into a dam. The violent water finds vent on the right, causing the collapse of the parapet and the road. Now the furious Arno pours throughout our part of town.”
The Mayor announces to his city by radio. “At this time I have been informed of the sad news that the Arno water has arrived in Piazza del Duomo. In some areas the flood reaches the first floor. And it is that area that needs our most urgent help. I invite everyone to stay calm and minimize your circulation. Any owners of rubber boats and amphibious vehicles, even in plastic, please make your way to the Palazzo Vecchio, to assist with immediate sanitary, food and rescue relief ”. In the days following he continued to protest loudly to the TV and newspapers indicating the gravity of the situation seemingly underestimated, and to the political institutions with a special plea to the Prime Minister to understand the scale of the tragedy “the damage is immense”.
The Journalist: “On arrival I found along with the Florentines who were not affected – that unforgettable night spent in mournful vigil on the edges of the another city, a city that water had separated from us, mysterious, inaccessible like a world inhabited on another planet, and that touched us with its breath, with a dank breath – a scene of total despair ” It was largely due to his reporting of the dramatic tragedy to Rome, together with the Mayor, that forced the mobilization of military and others to the aid of Florence.
25 May 2016
Working 24hr shifts
4 Nov 2016 completed
Also completed just in time for the 50th Anniversary was the road alongside the Arno which had collapsed in May due to a burst water pipe, devouring a number of parked cars in the process!. The worksite was operative 24hrs a day and only asphalted in time for the President of the Republic to walk down it on 4 Nov 2016. The next day following days of rain, the Arno level rose to alarming levels again and equipment from the worksite had to be hurriedly craned up.
5 Nov 2016 ‘La Nazione’
Photo credit Maro Mori/New Press Photo
Photo credit Vigili del Fuoco
Which just goes to show we should never take it for granted, and keep an eye on the Arno and Mother Nature! Having been involved in the Vernazza flood of 2011, the drama of Florence 1966 seemed even more credible.
Some of you may think the title is about me but it is actually taken from Ai Wei Wei’s film called ‘Never Sorry’!
The Wei Wei exhibition ‘Libero’ (Freedom) is in Florence now until the 22 Jan 2017 and I was keen to go early having seen his exhibition in Melbourne in Jan 2016. There has been quite a lot of comments and some hefty criticisms as the orange rubber dinghies used by refugees, were hung around the majestic Palazzo Strozzi housing the exhibition.
The ‘Huffington Post’ was huffing heaps in an article by Luca Rossi published 5 days before the opening, to give you an idea with an excerpt since the article was in Italian:
‘Ai Weiwei has not done anything politically significant, if not taken advantage of the misfortunes and injustices of the world to increase his fame and the price of his works. Showing the rafts on the facade of the Palazzo Strozzi shows us the refugee problem? As if I did not know that there is a problem, as if the problem did not pass every day on the news. What can an artist do? A lot, but Ai Weiwei does nothing.
If he was born in Viterbo, and was not “exotic” to the Western world he would not have had the exposure of which he and his gallery owners can enjoy; it is a new form of colonialism, aimed at creating expensive trinkets for the rich to show in some apartment in New York and London. And here are the remains of an earthquake in China in an exhibition in London, and here are the rafts and life jackets hanging of refugees in the city of Berlin and soon (now) in Florence. I would like to see one of those rafts in a living room of Park Avenue.’
Solar cookers on a wing to freedom
I don’t have the same impression, and believe artworks exist to provoke thought and reflection and as a result, can mean a range of things to different people, and Ai Wei Wei’s exhibits are definitely thought provoking. Many Florentines have never heard of him before so it is a great opportunity for them to discover his works as well as encourage others and tourists from all Italy to visit the exhibition.
The impact of the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 which killed roughly 70,000 people is still present with his ‘Snake Bag’ exhibit of 360 kids backpacks sewn together alongside coffins, in memory of over 5,000 children crushed beneath school buildings. In the film ‘Never Sorry’the list of children’s names, gathered by Wei Wei’s volunteers is papered on the wall of his studio and on the anniversary of this tragic event the public are invited to read a name out loud, continuing the condemnation of the inadequate building materials and structure.
While his career took off after his bird nest stadium for the Chinese Olympics in 2004, Wei Wei has since regretted the building and snubbed the Olympics as being purely party propaganda. Fellow Chinese artists consider him different from those who normally graduate from the Art Academy as he persists with a ‘slap in the face’ style that continues to irritate the Chinese government. His love of his own culture yet his need to break from tradition and conceive images and projects of social significance have set him apart.
His use of Lego continues in his series on political dissidents, curiously I think taken from Renaissance Italy.
The delicate bamboo and silk figures from Chinese culture – the Birdman, FlyingFish and the Great Wind inspired by kites from his childhood adorn another room.
Wei Wei selfies
The film shows a very personal side – as a great foodie (which shows!), his love of cats, (keeping around 40 cats and dogs at his studio), his playful side as a father, his organisation of craftsmen, artists and volunteers involved in his projects, and his constant filming. All gave me a clearer picture of where this artist is coming from.
Free speech puzzle
His brand of liberal thinking and use of social media will continue to raise criticisms both inside and out of China and while Wei Wei may be more insecure than what he appears he sure knows what he wants to say with his Art.
And Summer is in full spin in Florence as around 500 cyclists braved the 30+degree heat to do a marathon cycle in one of the most panoramic piazzas of Florence – Piazzale Michelangelo.
Cyclists hard at work
Michelangelo’s David was aghast and had to turn away before he fainted, while us lazy onlookers enjoyed the tension, the rousing cries, and the stamina of the cyclists pounding away to the beat of the music. What a way to go!
For the families there’s the classic Merry-Go-Round in Piazza della Repubblica that never seems to go out of fashion. And the wonderful bubble maker who delights the kids from the world over.
To take you on a tour around town is Matteo ( and others) with his electric rickshaw fromVelotours, for a quick jaunt of 20mins or a full immersion in the labyrinth of Florence while hearing its history and legends.
Past popular pork snack bars, now an all time favourite for tourists in Via dei Neri – All’ Antica Vinaio or La Prosciutteria, although I cannot understand why one would queue for a sandwich and wine to eat sitting on the pavement! Or rest tired feet under one of Florence’s most dramatic statues – Perseus while listening to a sentimental busker.
All’Antica Vinaio pork and wine snack bar
Then as dusk falls look for a place to have an aperitif – a spritz is still the most popular cocktail, although on a hot Summer day a chilled beer or wine goes down well too.
Enjoying a wine with friends
Florence boasts new bars this season, one of which is right next to the train station and looking very snazzy. – Reale Firenze. I understand it’s run by the promoters of the Central Market food mall and soft music wafts across the fountains as the sun goes down.
A contrast along the Arno river is the Wood bar with recycled warehouse crates and benches, and the music is lively.
And nearby, still on the river, is the open air dance venue of Summer Suites, so if you are around on Tuesdays that’s salsa night! Free dance workshops and it rocks on until dawn.
And while some clubs are new, some things never change – like the Red Garter club, which has been the haunt of American students ever since I came to Florence 30 years ago and is still going strong by the looks of the crowd spilling out onto the street. I have to admit I have never been inside as under 21yrs pour down alcohol like water enjoying the freedom of Italian regulations….not like back home!However if you’re after some peace and quite, head for the hills outside Florence as it’s been shooting star time, and quite dreamy waiting to make a wish on the forever elusive meteoroid burning up on it’s way to earth!