PALAZZO BELFIORE APARTMENTS IN FLORENCE

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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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REFLECTIONS FROM OUR INTERN – CATHERINE

Californian Intern, Catherine Slabaugh shares her experience working with Your Place In Florence.

“When I was first looking to study abroad, I knew I wanted my experience in Italy to be different than the average American-girl-in-Florence. I wanted a unique experience, something that challenged me to step outside of my comfortable world at home and pushed me to grow through the adversities I was bound to have. What better way to have all this than hold an Italian internship at a company I knew nothing about and no one at! 

Interning with Your Place in Florence at the Palazzo San Niccolò, Palazzo Belfiore and Palazzo Del Moro has been an incredibly unique and eye-opening experience. Few 20-year-olds are given the opportunity to hold an internship abroad, so I went in open-minded and full of curiosity as to what I’d be doing, who I’d be working with, and how an Italian business may be different from what I’m used to.

For some context, this Internship is the first job I’ve held where I entered a company knowing absolutely no one. This is also the first job I’ve held that has not been a job in the Religion industry. Thus, I was walking in rather blind and uncertain. 

I can’t say I had too many of the initial hurdles that may come to mind when you think of an American interning in Italy. My boss’s first language is English, the work I do, primarily social media, is something I’m quite comfortable with, and work days take on the same structure as they do in the States. 

However, the first couple weeks at the Palazzis were quite the adjustment period. My boss was learning what I was capable of and I was learning where I may fit in to the company. The most difficult adjustment for me initially was adapting to the Italian work style, a slower pace with time for conversation and time between projects. This was difficult for me, not accomplishing a million and one things each day made work days seems unsuccessful. In the past, I’ve always been given a rather extensive and ongoing to-do list at work and I’ve been comfortable enough with the company to create my own work. However, stepping in to a company you just heard of a few weeks prior, with people you met just last week, in an industry that is quite literally foreign to you takes away some of this autonomy. 

But as I developed a rhythm with my work and trust was established between my boss and I, work became much smoother. I found the importance in taking time to talk with coworkers and develop a more personal relationship with them. I found it okay to only accomplish five tasks in a day instead of my usual ten. I found myself dreaming up projects and carrying them out with positive feedback, as well as receiving critiques that have pushed me to look at social media in a much more professional way. This is my first time working for a larger company and as social media develops more and more each day, it takes a much stronger role in the development and outreach of a business.

Looking back on the past 12 weeks at the Palazzis, the greatest takeaways have to be some of the unique Florentine experiences I’ve been granted. The two that stand out the most are my visit to a local tea shop to showcase a partnership they have with our Palazzis on social media, and a private tour I took of the oldest Pharmacy and Perfume shop for a blog post I wrote. Representing an Italian company on social media that prides themselves on providing unique Tuscan experiences has encouraged me to truly dive into the Italian lifestyle and attempt to see Florence through the eyes of locals. I often talk with my boss about local events coming up, Tuscan delicacies she and her family prepare, and local artisan shops scattered throughout the city. 

Working with Your Place in Florence was a leap of faith into an industry I had never worked in before that has ultimately provided me with clarity on what I aspire to do in the future. I don’t necessarily think I’ll find myself working in the hotel industry or returning for permanent work in Florence, but sometimes we learn the most about ourselves through experiences that we may never have again. An eye-opening and incredibly unique Internship to say the least, and perhaps the most cherished gift I’ll take with me as I return home.”

GUEST EXPERIENCE TESTIMONIAL

Last month we had some of our guests enjoy two of our exclusive experiences during their stay with us.  It is always such an honour to receive emails like the following from happy and satisfied guests and so we just had to share!

“Dear Federico,

I want to send a quick note to thank you for a wonderful vacation.  My mom, daughter and sister had the best time!  We loved staying at the apartment.  The location is great, the hospitality you showed us, the accommodations….everything…just perfect!  One thing we didn’t get a chance to do that we had hoped was to visit the tea shop.  The tea was fantastic!  

The tours you recommended were among our favourite things.  My mom is still talking about the sidecar tour and the wine tour my son and his friend (who had been on other ones) commented to me that tour you arranged on Sunday was the best they had been on!  It is worth noting that the driver (he is in one of the pictures) was terrific!  We had so much fun!  

Everything…every single person…was just great!  

Thank you again.  We are already looking forward to visiting Florence in the future and staying again at the Palazzo Belfiore!

Jodi”

FERRAGOSTO

August 15  is one of the most popular and biggest holidays in Italy.  Known as Ferragosto, which literally translates as ‘holiday in August’, this day originates from Roman times when the first Emperor, Augusto decided to establish a day off in the middle of the hottest month.

Expect most businesses to be closed and most cities to be deserted as most Italians will be at the beach or escapiing the heat in the mountains.  If you decide to go to the beach on the 15th August, be prepared to get wet as it is also a tradition to throw buckets of water over anyone in close proximity – of course this is most popular with the kids and teenagers but beware if you happen to be in the path of a water-fight! Whatever your plans this Ferragosto, if you do happen to find yourself in Florence, you will have plenty of choices of things to do and see!

In Florence, most of the museums will be open and below is a quick quide to the opening hours :

The Uffizi Gallery is open as usual from 8:15am until 6:30pm

Palazzo Vecchio will be open from 9:00am until 11:00pm while The ‘Torre di Arnolfo’ will be open from 9:00am until 9:00pm.

Santa Maria Novella will be open from 12:00pm until 6:30pm

Museo Novecento will be open from 11:00am util 8:00pm.

Forte Belvedere which is currently showing the exhibition ‘Gong’ by Eliseo Mattiacci will be open from 10:00 – 20:00 but you must book prior to arrival.

The Bardini museum will be closed for the Ferragosto holiday.

 

 

There are also a number of musical events and concerts to be enjoyed in Florence.  At the ‘Giardino dell’Orticultura there will be a concert by the Alyen Roy Band which is a mix of jazz, swing, bossa nova and fusion.  The show starts at 7:00pm. San Salvi park will also be hosting a concert by quartet ‘Banditaliana’ founded in 1992 by organist Ricardo Tesi.  Bookings are recommended. You can also enjoy a dj set and aperitivo at the ‘Spiaggia sull’Arno / River Urban Beach, on the banks of the river Arno in front of Piazza Poggi.