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 [email protected]
July 6, 2018

The park of Villa Il Ventaglio

If you have never spent a summer in Florence, the heat and humidity may make you long for a cool, tranquil place to picnic or to spend the afternoons. Since June 4, 2018, one such place has been opened to the public once again. It is the romantic English garden of the Villa Il Ventaglio, […]
June 5, 2018

The Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal

The basilica of San Miniato al Monte recently celebrated its 1,000th birthday. Dominating the view from one of the highest and most scenic spots overlooking Florence, it is a jewel of Tuscan Romanesque architecture. A defensive wall built in haste by Michelangelo during the siege of Florence in 1530 surrounds the church complex, later completed […]
May 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 […]