Imagine a parrot flying from rooftop to window in piazza Santo Spirito and you’ve captured the colour, surprise and joy that Florence flings at all those who love her. Author Sarah Winman conjures up this glorious flight of fancy in her novel Still Life, which appears on bookshelves this month. More than mere beach reading, this richly portrayed tome sweeps from a 1944 chance encounter in the Tuscan countryside to post-war London and a surprise later move to Florence. It’s a celebration of family, friendship and the complexities that enthral non-natives who choose the Tuscan capital as their permanent home. Still Life is without a doubt one of the finest novels to have emerged about Florence in recent years, which is why we’ve listed it alongside other Italy-centric books for your reading pleasure on page 21.
Now that we’re more out than in, this issue of The Florentine is a lucky dip of what’s on this summer, from the duo of top photography shows at Forte di Belvedere to cinema in English at Villa Bardini, the much-anticipated Ultravox showcase at the Cascine Park’s grassy Cornacchie Amphitheatre and the rooftops revealed by the organizers of Firenze dall’Alto. Check out our Best Events overview (pages 10+11), plus the guide to English-friendly events that comprise the official Estate Fiorentina program (pages 2+3) and day-by-day August planner (page 14). We’ve even indulged in one new hip spot to the next for the Hangouts so hot they’re cool piece (page 18). Such is summer living in Florence…
It’s that time of the year when turning on the oven is a no-no and popping out for a pizza almost always seems like a good idea. Turn to pages 16 and 17 for a round-up of some of our preferred pizza places in Florence. From gourmet toppings to steamed dough bases, tomato-less bianche options and preferred family spots for a fun Friday night, there really is something for everyone.
Now that curfew’s over (read Harry Cochrane’s account of recent months on page 22) and masks have been lifted outdoors, we can breathe more easily, albeit with the due diligence that’s now the norm, and even travel with fewer restrictions with the introduction of the EU Digital COVID Certificate. With this comes the hope that Florence will soon welcome back its American friends (we know some of you are already here: grazie!), now that testing and isolating is no longer mandatory for US citizens who have been fully vaccinated. For more details, see page 6 and www.governo.it.
For New York readers who fancy a taste of Florence and are unable to board a Covid-tested flight, the next best thing is The Met’s just-opened exhibit The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512-1570, which Anne Holler has rave reviewed with its Cellinis and Bronzinos on page 24. It’s an aspirational show that serves as a timely reminder of Florentine genius.
“Italy has the best infrastructure in the whole of Europe: the high-speed rail line is off the charts.” Positivity is keenly perceived in the words of Charlie MacGregor, the CEO of The Student Hotel (page 13), the groundbreaking hybrid hospitality business that continues to invest heavily in Italy and Florence in particular. The interview aims to shine the spotlight on foreign direct investment in Tuscany through a new partnership with the region’s aptly titled business arm, Invest in Tuscany.
While Florence exerts the age-old siren call with its sigh-inducing sunsets, escaping the urban heat island is a given. Turn to pages 28-29 to dive into the classical musical pleasures of Incontri in Terra in Siena at the beautiful La Foce in southern Tuscany, head up to Ruffino’s Poggio Casciano wine estate for live music and poetry nights, and read about my recent bagno experience in Castiglioncello (but it could be anywhere!) on page 20. Meanwhile, Deirdre Pirro gets a jumpstart on September with a look at Enrico Magnani Pescia’s handmade paper ahead of artisan fair Artigianato e Palazzo after the break (page 31).