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CELEBRATING 500 YEARS OF COSIMO & CATERINA

2019 will be a year full of celebrations for Florence.  I’m sure you’ve heard about the 500 year celebrations for Leonardo Da Vinci but did you know that another two historical figures are celebrating 500 year ‘birthdays’ this year?

Cosimo I and Caterina de ‘Medici, both born in 1519, will be celebrated as Florentines pay homage to the memory of these two important figures who left their indelible stamp in the history of Florence.

Over 50 events promoted by the Organizing Committee will range from exhibitions to concerts, guided tours, meetings and conventions, theatrical events, and real-time travels with historical representations and themed tastings; a rich program that will be spread over the whole of 2019.

A year of events to tell, understand and remember who Cosimo, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, was, and Caterina de Medici, queen of France, mother of three sovereigns and a political figure among the most authoritative of her time.

Many initiatives will be taking place over the next few months, from themed exhibitions at the Uffizi, Bargello National Museum, to Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, the State Archive and the Laurentian Library.  There will also be guided tours of the Medici villas of Villa la Petraia and Villa di Castello, including theatrical and musical events.

So let’s get to know The Grand Duke and Queen a little better ………..

IL GRANDUCA – COSIMO 1

Cosimo was born in 1519 in Florence, to Giovanni de ‘Medici and Maria Salviati, niece of Lorenzo the Magnificent and representative of the main branch of the family. When Cosimo was 7 years old, his father died and so Cosimo moved with his mother to Trebbio, a town in the Mugello, where he spent his childhood years between hunting and outdoor sports, such as fencing, wrestling, horse handling, fishing and swimming.

He was considered a young man of weak spirit who was not inclined to politics or to command, but when he came to power, in 1537, succeeding Alessandro de ‘Medici, (known as Il Moro, who had been murdered by Lorenzino de’ Medici), Cosimo demonstrated himself to be a skilful and centralized politician, capable of consolidating the dominion of the Medici dynasty over Florence and expanding it to most of Tuscany. Starting from the battle of Montemurlo (1537), where the troops led by Alessandro Vitelli defeated the Florentine “exiles” backed by the French, until the break with the traditional alliance of Florence with France, in favour of one with the Spain of Charles V,  Cosimo’s ambition and determination was a step forward and not of one lacking leadership as the powerful of the time would accuse him of.

On 29 July 1539, under the auspices of the Spanish emperor, Cosimo married Eleonora, daughter of Don Pietro di Toledo, viceroy of Naples and brother of the Duke of Alba. The choice of the bride had not only political and economic interests, Cosimo and Eleonora were also bound by deep affection and lived, as biographer Baccio Baldini recalls: “with a lot of rest and pleasure, happily for many years”; until her death in 1562 due to malaria.

From 1543 Cosimo started a series of institutional and administrative reforms that consolidated the centralization of power towards his figure and which would leave him greater political independence. Cosimo perfected the state system, with reforms in the fields of administration of justice and of the superintendency of the domain, maintaining the legal and administrative division between the Duchy of Florence and the Duchy of Siena, following the annexation of 1555-57.

Alongside an authoritarian and centralizing policy, Cosimo launched a series of important cultural reforms. In 1543 he reopened the University in Pisa and established the Collegio di Sapienza, for poor students of the duchy. Between 1541 and 1542 he converted the Accademia degli Umidi into the Florentine Academy, whose activity was linked to the diffusion of the “Tuscan” language and to the foundation of ducal historiography. Meanwhile, he moved his residence from Palazzo Medici Riccardi to Palazzo Della Signoria. In 1560 he commissioned Giorgio Vasari for the construction of the Uffizi. On the advice of the architect from Arezzo, in 1563, he founded the Academy of Arts and Design, an institution still active today, whose role and prestige grew thanks to the extraordinary contribution of Academics such as Michelangelo Buonarroti, Francesco da Sangallo, Benvenuto Cellini, Bartolomeo Ammannati, the Giambologna, Galileo Galilei, etc. In the meantime he expanded the majestic building of Palazzo Pitti, completing the Boboli Gardens and connecting the new residence with Palazzo Della Signoria through the Vasari Corridor.

In 1563 Cosimo left the government and rents of the state to his eldest son Francesco, reserving for himself the ducal title, the right of appointment to the most important offices, the allodial assets and the commercial capitals, as well as the right to consent in the most important political questions. In 1569 he obtained the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany from Pope Pius V. After the death of Eleonora, he married Camilla Martelli, from whom he had a daughter, Virginia. Cosimo died in 1574, in the Villa di Castello, following a stroke.

LA REGINA – CATERINA

Caterina de ‘Medici was born in 1519 in Florence, in the palace of the Via Larga (now Palazzo Medici Riccardi), to Lorenzo II de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino and Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, daughter of Count Jean de Boulogne and of Caterina di Borbone. She lost her parents a few weeks after birth, remaining the sole heir of the Medici house. At the behest of great-uncle Leo X, the “Duchess of Urbino” was taken to Rome, and at his death, her guardianship passed to Clement VII.

In 1525, she returned to Florence, but due to political unrest and the plague that raged, she was transferred to the monastery of the Murate Benedictines. After the restoration of the Medici dominion, Clement VII recalled the orphan to Rome. Caterina was now eleven years old, making her a precious object in the Pope’s marriage policy, aimed at favouring the interests of the Curia and the Medici family in the context of the struggle of the great powers. The negotiations for Caterina’s marriage with the duke Enrico d’Orléans, second son of King Francis I of France, are in fact closely connected with the rivalry between Habsburg and Valois for dominance in Italy. The negotiations for Caterina’s French wedding came to fruition in the summer of 1533, in Marseille, but not before having “greeted” Florence and Italy with a sumptuous banquet held at Palazzo Medici.

In France, the young Duchess had a secondary role. The death of Clement VII, in 1534, had caused all political expectations related to marriage to vanish, and the rank of the husband, who was not the crown prince, relegated her to a marginal position at the French court. Although, in 1536, on the death of Francis of Valois, Caterina and Henry became the heirs to the throne of France (effectively becoming sovereigns in 1547).

In 1544 Caterina gave birth to the first heir: Francesco, the future Francesco II. The birth was welcomed by numerous celebrations because Caterina was considered infertile.  Proving everyone wrong, within twelve years, Caterina and Henry gave birth to ten children, of whom seven remained alive and three became rulers of France: Francis II, Charles IX, Henry III. Caterina was therefore called “the queen mother”.

Caterina’s presence at the court in France recalled several Italian exiles, in particular, the Florentine “exiles”, opponents of Cosimo I, considered by their usurper of Caterina. In 1559 the death of Henry II led Caterina to be the true ruler of the kingdom of France. As a manifestation of pain, she began to dress in black as a sign of mourning, going against the tradition that saw the use of white as the colour of mourning for the queens. From this moment Caterina assumed a decisive role alongside her heirs to the throne of her husband: from Francis II, who died in 1560, to Charles IX, under whose empire the wars of religion and the historic Night of St. Bartholomew took place; to finish with Henry III.

Caterina was a key figure in the cultural and political sphere. She died on January 5, 1589, in the castle of Blois. She was buried in the basilica of Saint-Denis, next to Henry II in the tomb in the rotunde of the Valois.

ANIMALIA FASHION AT PITTI PALACE

 

Palazzo Belfiore is conveniently located just one block away from Palazzo Pitti which makes it an ideal location for our guests when visiting Florence.

The latest temporary exhibition being held at Pitti Palaceis called Animalia Fashion and is a fabulous collection of Haute Couture fashion inspired by the natural beauty of the animal world.  Insects, snakes, shells, fish, swans and even spiders take over eighteen rooms in the form of not only the clothes but also with master paintings and exhibits from the Museo di Antropologia ed Etnografia.

Clothes, shoes and accessories that seem more like sculptures, or more correctly, wearable-art by well-known contemporary fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Prada, Christian Lacroix, Lanvin, Balmain, Azzedine Alaia & Emilio Pucci to name a few of the impressive line-up, are on display in the Museum of Costume and Fashion inside Pitti Palace.

The exhibition showcases nearly 100 items created between 2000 and 2018, loaned by famous fashion houses and emerging stylists alike.  Curated by Patricia Lurati, who devised the exhibition as the setting for an imaginary museum, explains : “In an emotional dialogue with this zoo of fabrics, feathers, leathers and more, the visitor is surprised and involved in the discovery of the wonders of the animal world, which becomes a source of inspiration for designers and creates unexpected juxtapositions in the observer’s imagination“.

The exhibition is included in the admission ticket to the museums of Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens and has the same opening hours.

Please contact us if you would like us to organise tickets or a private tour of Pitti Palace for you.

ANIMALIA FASHION 

8 January – 5 May, 2019
Museum of Costume and Fashion, Pitti Palace
DAYS : Tuesday – Sunday
HOURS : 8.15am – 6.50pm

ANIMALIA

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FLORENCE LIGHT FESTIVAL

Since the end of November a festive atmosphere has been building in Florence in anticipation of the annual Florence Light Festival. Twinkling light installations can be seen lining the streets and adorning restaurants and shops.  The massive fir Christmas tree and nativity scene have been positioned in their usual spots in the Piazza Duomo and the preparation all culminated on last Saturday the 8th, when the entire city became illuminated by the commencement of the largest ever F-Light festival. The month long event offers excitement for everyone in the form of video-mapping, projections, art installations, light games, educational activities, special “torchlight” visits to museums, and shows.
This year’s theme, F-Light Your Mind: the thought of Leonardo da Vinci, boasts magnificent displays projected on many historical buildings throughout the city. This theme was chosen by the MUS.E to celebrate the legacy that the artist and scientist left in those respective fields on the 500 year anniversary of his death. It evokes themes of innovation, creativity, mystery, and enlightenment. These displays utilise the famous facades of locations such as the Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Vecchio as canvases for projections that range in topics from important events in Florentine history to the genius of da Vinci’s works.
Apart from the projections on the well loved monuments, there are also special lighting installations intended to shed light on hidden gems in Florence. Included is Piazza della Signoria, where lights shine on the walls and vaults of the Loggia de ‘Lanzi.  A magical, mysterious atmosphere is created by the way the light plays off of the Roman sculptures. This piazza also promotes the City of Florence’s awareness campaign in the form of the hashtag #EnjoyRespectFirenze as well as the F-Light logo and slogan.
Another interesting addition this year is the lighting of a Christmas tree in Piazza Santa Maria Novella and installations in districts outside of the historic center of the city. The decor of the tree is inspired by the architecture of the basilica behind it. In the districts there are installations outlining the five points of the city: the fountain of the Fortezza da Basso, Piazza Niccolò Tommaseo in Settignano, Piazza Elia da Costa, the Isolotto walkway, and the San Donato park in Novoli. Another new aspect included this year are the permanent lighting installations. These include the Basilica of San Miniato and the Piazza Santissima Annunziata and are meant to enhance their beauty, liveliness, and celebrate special occasions such at this holiday season.
The home stadium of the ACF Fiorentina is also part of the festivities. The LED lighting system on the stadium proudly shines the colors of ACF Fiorentina and the four historic districts of Florentine soccer.
The universal energy the festival draws is represented in the flame at the heart of the festival. This symbolizes the light of knowledge as well as the warmth of shared community and heritage the city cultivates. With its beautiful exhibits and historical lessons, the Florence Light Festival is something that must be experienced during the holiday season!
photo by musefirenze.it
photo by Controradio
photo by musefirenze.it

OFFICINA PROFUMERIA-SANTA MARIA NOVELLA

A PRIVATE TOUR OF THE OLDEST WORKING PHARMACY IN ITALY

by Catherine Slabaugh

With over 400 years of Florentine history, the world-renowned Officina Profumo- Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella invites visitors nationwide to be entranced by their breath-taking perfumes, cosmetics, and more.

Upon entering, guests are welcomed with an awe-inspiring fresco that takes you back to the Profumo’s origins in the early 1600s. The Profumo was originally owned and operated by Dominican Monks who created herbal remedies for locals. In the early 1900s, the shop was turned over to the government and transitioned into a Profumo, selling luxurious and diverse products for visitors flocking in from around the world.

The Profumo is divided into six different spaces open to the public; the sales hall, green room, ancient apothecary’s shop, sacristy, museum, and herbal tea room. I found myself gazing at the intricate detail of each room and the elegant products on display, truly a breathtaking sight. Each visitor is welcomed into the shop warmly as Profumo workers invite you to experience their products and find one to take home with you.

We arrived for our private tour early in the morning and were quickly surrounded by a vast array of tourists and locals, eyeing the historic yet elegant products. Perfumes, cosmetics, home fragrances, wax products, liquer, and even a product for your pet can all be found in this ancient palazzo.

Stepping into the first room, originally one of the chapels of the monastery, the sales hall features a beautifully restored fresco that represents the four continents, showcasing the Profumo’s presence around the world. The room holds their perfume, soap, and cosmetic products, truly hand-crafted delicacies.

Turning right from the large sales room, we were taken to the green room and ancient apothecary’s shop. The green room features portraits of each Profumo owner, beginning with the earliest Dominican Monks. Here we gazed upon their candle and wax products, home fragrances, and other household accessories, showcased beautifully amongst fall décor to highlight the season.

Connected to the green room is the ancient apothecary’s shop, the original sales hall from 1612 to 1848. We were taken back in time to the Profumo’s ancient herbal remedies as the elisir, teas, herbal supplements, and specialty liquors were on display. The way in which the Profumo holds on to their historical roots and adapts their products for the needs of visitors today is quite inspiring.

The final room is the small sacristy and museum that gave us a peek into the past lives of the Dominican Monks, complete with a restored fresco of the passion of Christ and ancient machines and ceramics once used in the perfume creation. If you are looking to relax and absorb the ambiance of the space, you will be pleased to know that the Profumo holds their own tea room and café where guests can indulge in a cappuccino or cup of tea, while viewing the handmade chocolates, candies, honey, and tea for sale.

I highly recommend experiencing the Profumo through a guided tour, as there are countless anecdotes and stories you will only learn when walking through the palazzo privately. It is here where I learned about the Profumo’s private enclosed garden, home to all the company’s flowers and herbs used in each product, truly ‘Made in Italy’.

There were two products that stood out to me in particular during my visit to the Profumo. Perhaps the most well-known item that continually draws people in is the Acqua di S.M. Novella Perfume, originally created for Caterina de’ Medici in 1533 and sold today using the same original formula. Another eye-catching product is the historical Santa Maria Novella Water, known as Acqua Antisterica, developed in 1614 for calming and digestive purposes.

As the Profumo holds true to their historical roots, they continually develop products that sweep visitors off their feet. Spending a morning at the Profumo is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that cannot be replicated. I highly recommend incorporating a visit during your stay here in Florence, as this may be the most unique, and elegantly-smelling, a Florentine experience you will have!

SETTEMBRE IN PIAZZA DELLA PASSERA

Palazzo Belfiore is proud to once again be sponsoring the annual event, Settembre in ‘Piazza della Passera’!

This year marks the 17th edition of the event after taking a sabbatical last year.  The festival was conceived by Stefano Di Pucci, owner of Trattoria 4 Leoni together with the cultural association “In Piazza”, under the direction of Alessandro Di Puccio and in collaboration for the organisation with Momy Manetti.  The initial plan was to include all the main squares of the Oltrarno, with the idea of using art to enhance the territory and an opportunity to meet and discover new talents.

The piazza has come alive this week with two concerts each evening from 11th – 14th, all with free admission and the idea this year was to involve young students in the event.  The ‘Giovani in Piazza’ format, created with the Jazz department of the Florence Academy of Music offers young talents in the sector the opportunity to open the first three evenings.

Palazzo Belfiore was honoured to have Scott Hamilton stay with us on Wednesday night. One of the greatest jazz saxophonists around and in demand the world over, his playing has best been described by fellow tenor saxophonist and writer, Dave Gelly: “Following a Scott Hamilton solo is like listening to a great conversationalist in full flow. First comes the voice, the inimitable, assured sound of his tenor saxophone, then the informal style and finally the amazing fluency and eloquent command of the jazz language.”

CALCIO STORICO FIORENTINO

June is an exciting time to find yourself in the city of Florence – this weekend especially!

The final match of Calcio Storico Fiorentino is held on this Sunday, June 24, which is the day Florence celebrates its patron saint’s feast day for St. John the Baptist. This day is full of celebration for the people of Florence. Catch the parade through the streets of Florence where you can see the locals dressed in historical costumes as well as all the players of the historic soccer game known as Calcio Storico that begins at Piazza Santa Maria Novella and travels through Florence towards Piazza Santa Croce. The parade starts around 4pm and will lead to the final match that will begin at 5pm between team Rossi of Santa Maria Novella and team Verdi of San Giovanni.

The rich history and culture of this 16th century sport, Calcio Storico Fiorentino, a combination of soccer, rugby, and wrestling is very rough as there seems to be no rules observed at all. All of the matches are held at Piazza Santa Croce which is the traditional location for all the matches of Calcio Storico. There are four teams from the historical neighborhoods of Florence who play each other in two playoffs and then the winners play in the final match. 

The day of festivities ends with a night of fireworks which are launched from Piazzale Michelangelo so if you are in town, make sure you have a good view from the river .

Tickets for the final can be purchased at the Box Office in Via delle Vecchie Carceri 1, Firenze from 11:00am Payment by bancomat, credit card (no AMEX) or debit card.

Maximum 5 tickets can be purchased per person.

WHEN : Sunday24 June 2018

TIME : 5:00pm

WHERE : Piazza Santa Croce

Ticket Prices :

  • Tribuna onore centrale  € 80
  • Tribuna onore laterale   € 60
  • Tribuna numerata         € 40
  • Tribune popolari           € 29

BOOK YOUR APARTMENT IN FLORENCE

THE IRIS GARDEN

Now is the Time to Visit the Iris Garden!

 

 

Winding paths lead you past the many varieties of Iris as well as other blooms and there are also various benches where you can just sit and admire the beauty of this garden where over 150 varieties of Iris are on display. Children will love the garden too as they navigate the many paths and steps that lead through the garden and to the ponds, making for a fun floral adventure. Take note if you are taking a stroller though as you will not be able to acces the whole garden – you can leave it inside the entrance though if needed.
It is incredible how you can be so close to the city and yet feel so totally immersed in the country-side. Scattered among the olive trees, this garden is a beautiful respite from the rush of the city.
I would suggest going in the morning before the garden fills up with too many people.

 

OPEN UNTIL THE 20TH MAY – Piazzale Michelangelo
Monday – Friday : 10.00 – 13.00 | 15.00 – 19.30 Saturday – Sunday : 10.00 – 19.30
Last entrance half an hour before closing.
ENTRANCE to the GARDEN is FREE