by Mundy E. Walsh
From April 21 to 28, St. Mark’s Church is hosting an event-packed celebration of one of Florence’s most famous expatriates, Violet Trefusis.
Violet Trefusis, who was born in London in 1894, was a leading figure among les grandes animatrices de Paris as well as part of the European elite, creating a cosmopolitan salon in Saint-Loup-de-Naud near Paris and a celebrated cultural environment in her Villa dell’Ombrellino of Bellosguardo, located in the hills above Florence (see TF 180).
‘Violet Trefusis was one of the few English people to observe Florence without overlaying it with the typical “aesthetic stupefaction.” She never felt herself to be an alien, immersed as she was in the local environment,’ says Tiziana Masucci, curator of the upcoming festival at St. Mark’s Church, Violet in Florence (see below).
Trefusis was a writer (she wrote four books in French and five in English), a bon viveur, traveller and philanthropist. She was awarded with Légion d’Honneur in 1950 for her wartime broadcasts, the Médaille d’Argent de la Ville de Paris in 1953, and, for her activity as a writer and her love of Italy, Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana in 1960.
Violet in Florence focuses on many aspects of Trefusis’s career and life. The festival will include an exhibition offering a rare glimpse of her most prized possessions; an Anglo-Italian reading of her book, I Pagagalli sull’Arno, in collaboration with the British Institute; opera performances of her favourite arias, in association with St Mark’s Opera; ‘Hello Violet,’ an entertaining and witty musical of her life performed by actress Gabriella Zanchi; guided tours of Bellosguardo and Florence, inspired by Trefusis’s favourite haunts, led by the Marchesa Antonia Lanza d’Ajeta and Masucci; and, last but not least, a roaring 1920s-inspired party.
‘Violet in Florence is not intended as a commemorationbut as a living and fresh portrait, bringing the focus on the talent of the writer and the woman on her remarkable cultural background.’ says Masucci. The festival offers ‘a historical-literary and aesthetic without losing sight of it is twofold potential, to instruct and to bring Violet Trefusis and her Florence to an international public,’ she explains.
The festival is the first such event that St. Mark’s Church has offered, and it honours one of its greatest benefactors. When Trefusis died in Florence on March 1, 1972, she left one million lire to St. Mark’s Church and five million lire to the City of Florence for the poor of the city.
Violet in Florence
April 21 to 28
St. Mark’s English Church, via Maggio 16-18, Florence
Mundy E. Walsh
Fluent in Italian, Mundy moved from Dublin to Florence in November 2012. She is Administrator of St Mark's English Church and is keen to develop its cultural programme. Mundy is also finishing her first book and hoping to discover some latent artist talent while in Florence.