Author: Deirdre Pirro

Deirdre Pirro, author of "Italian Sketches: The Faces of Modern Italy", published by The Florentine Press, is an international lawyer who lives and works in Florence. Her writing focuses on modern Italy, its people, its history and its customs. Follow her on Twitter @dp_in_florence or contact her at ddpirro@gmail.com.
May 7, 2018
ART + CULTURE

Porta San Frediano

Seven gates remain as reminders of the third circular wall built between 1284 and 1333 that once surrounded and defended the city of Florence: the Porta al Prato, Porta San Gallo and Porta alla Croce sopra l’Arno on the north side of the Arno river, and the Porta San Frediano, Porta Romana, Porta San Miniato […]
April 9, 2018
ART + CULTURE

Vittorio degli Albizi

The powerful Albizi family whose German roots dated to the time of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III made its considerable fortune out of importing and selling French wool and in banking. After initially settling in Arezzo, the Albizi—whose name in Old High German derived from albiz, meaning “swan”—transferred to Florence in the 12th century […]
March 1, 2018
ART + CULTURE

Italian Sketches: Howard Pyle

Recognised as the father of American illustration, Howard Pyle forever changed the way we think of our heroes through his vivid, often dramatic black-and-white and colour drawings and paintings, in addition to his adventure writings, especially for young readers, including King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, […]
February 2, 2018
ART + CULTURE

Italian Sketches: Alessandro Sinigaglia

After Mussolini fell and the armistice had been signed, German troops occupied Florence for almost a year between September 1943 and August 1944. A climate of fear, suspicion and betrayal pervaded the city while resistance against Italy’s former allies and the remnants of the fascist dictatorship grew stronger as Allied forces moved north along the […]
January 15, 2018
ART + CULTURE

The statue of Ubaldino Peruzzi

Two statues stand facing each other across piazza Indipendenza. One depicts Ubaldino Peruzzi de’ Medici, the first mayor of Florence and a minister in the newly proclaimed united Italy, and the other captures the moderate liberal politician and twice prime minister Baron Bettino Ricasoli, both of whom were prominent figures in the bloodless coup that […]
November 30, 2017
ART + CULTURE

The origins of Tombola

Traditionally, Christmas Day is a family occasion in Italian households when all members, from elderly grandparents to newly born babies, gather around the table. After lunch, when the dishes have been cleared away, an odd assortment of objects take their place, ready to play tombola, a game not unlike bingo. Throughout the country, the most […]
October 26, 2017
ART + CULTURE

Piazzale Michelangelo

Every year, thousands of people from all over the world visit piazzale Michelangelo to take photographs of the spectacular view it gives of the bridges over the Arno river and Florence’s major landmarks, from Forte Belvedere to Santa Croce basilica, encompassing Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, the Uffizi, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Bargello museum and the […]
September 28, 2017
ART + CULTURE

The Leopolda Station

On September 15, 1861, the king of the newly unified Italy Vittorio Emanuele II inaugurated the first Italian National Exhibition of Agricultural and Industrial Products and Fine Arts in Florence at the Leopolda railway station at Porta al Prato. Construction of that station named after Grand Duke Leopoldo II had lasted from 1841 to 1848 […]
September 8, 2017
ART + CULTURE

Andrei Tarkovsky

At number 91 via San Niccolò in the elegant, almost secretive Florentine neighbourhood of the same name, there is a plaque in Italian dedicated to one of the world’s greatest film directors. It tells us that the Russian “Andrei Tarkovsky, sublime director of a spiritual cinema in exile in Florence, spent the last years of […]
July 6, 2017
ART + CULTURE

Santa Maria Nuova

A hospital is usually the last place you want to go to unless absolutely necessary. But in Florence, it’s different. In the middle of town there is a hospital that has been caring for tourists and residents over the last 700 years, never missing a single day, even during plagues, revolutions, wars or natural disasters: […]