A Florence native, Elisabetta Cianfanelli is one busy lady. While juggling family commitments and a variety of important roles in the city, she also holds the position of Florence's municipal councillor of Tourism, Europe and Fashion and Equal Opportunities in the Renzi administration. Before that, she served as Florence provincial councillor for fashion. With a degree in architecture and a specialization in industrial design, she has been a researcher at the University of Florence's Faculty of Architecture since 2000, where she teaches and conducts research in product and fashion design in Italy. She is the author of numerous books on design, fashion, innovation and increased social and economic inclusion of the disabled. The quintessential multitasker, Cianfanelli affirms that 'her passion for her career has allowed her to use the skills acquired in the university setting over the years to the political sphere, turning her into a true "political designer."' In a moment that Florence seems to be regaining its prestige in the area of tourism and making headlines with recent projects aimed at increasing offerings in culture and entertainment for both residents and tourists, TF spoke to Cianfanelli to discuss the state of the tourism sector in Florence and prospects for the future.
The province of Florence recently released data showing that the number of tourists this year are the same as those in 2007. Can we say that the city has weathered the 'financial' storm?
Yes, it seems so. In the last few months Florence has bounced back as a major tourist destination, reclaiming a top place in the international rankings. The current administration wants to continue this positive trend by offering a variety of top-quality alternatives to tourists. Our data suggests that American travellers are returning to the city, and we have noted a sharp increase in tourist flows from countries like Brazil, China and Russia. The number of Italian tourists has also risen steadily.We are all evidently part of a new globalized culture, and one of the things that can distinguish one place from another is its culinary tradition and all of the cultural elements that are linked to it. This kind of 'knowledge' has been a defining element of our region since Etruscan times, and any experience of Tuscany's excellent culinary arts would allow visitors to better appreciate this. You speak of the culinary arts in Tuscany, and although Florence is known the world over for its rich culinary tradition, our experience suggests that tourists are finding it increasingly difficult to eat well, and at reasonable prices, in the city, especially in bars.