From the Heart to the Hills: An art trek from the turn of the century to today

From the Heart to the Hills: An art trek from the turn of the century to today

From the Heart to the Hills trek celebrates early 20th-century literature and modern-day book art from a female perspective on May 8.

Tue 03 May 2022 10:25 AM

This spring, take a trek that celebrates early twentieth-century literature and modern-day book art from a female perspective from 3pm to 6pm on May 8.

Il Palmerino spring
Springtime at Il Palmerino

Federica Parretti, whose family home, Il Palmerino, is the country house where British author Vernon Lee lived from 1889 until her death in 1935, speaks of the author in simple but telling terms. “Vernon Lee”, she says, “is impossible to describe”. Perhaps this is why, before she died, the author would alert her executor, “I absolutely prohibit any biography of my life. My life is my own and I leave that to nobody.” 

One of the most significant early twentieth-century Pacifist writers, Lee has not enjoyed the renown she had in her lifetime, yet top minds of her time came to sup at her table, including Oscar Wilde, John Singer Sargent, Edith Wharton, Mary Cassatt and, later, Ottoline Morrell and Virginia Woolf. Henry James, also a frequenter of Il Palmerino, would call Lee “faraway the most able mind in Florence”, and proof of it can be found at The British Institute of Florence, to whom she bequeathed a precious series of volumes from her personal library. 

From the Heart to the Hills trek on Sunday, May 8, begins at The British Institute of Florence’s new space for contemporary creativity, SOTTO al British, for a look at a selection of Vernon Lee’s volumes and ends at Il Palmerino Cultural Association, with a glimpse at its newly inaugurated show Bridges (May 5 to June 5), which brings together book art installations by international artists sculptors and poets from Florence and abroad, created in response to woman artist of the past. 

Who’s on show for From the Heart to the Hills

Artist Rea Stavropoulos and her paintings for Oltrarno Gaze

Expect emergent Florentine painter Guenda Nocentini and Venice Biennale veteran Silvia Fossati, whose in-progress installation is pictured here. Whimsical French painter Virginie Houdet responds to Violante Siries Cerroti’s (1709-83) eye for fashion and finery. Sculptor Mimma Di Stefano stands in conversation with her Etruscan-inspired maestro Amalia Ciardi Duprè (b. 1934). For British-Greek artist Rea Stavropoulos, the Female Gaze meets the Oltrarno Gaze with a book-art installation inspired by four women from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The starting point for US book artist Lyall Harris and Brazil-born, Florence-based Patricia Silva will be the multi-decade correspondence of twentieth-century painters Fillide Levasti (1883-1966) and Leonetta Cecchi (1882-1977) at Florence’s Gabinetto Vieusseux and the Marucellana Library. Cecchi will also inspire the installation of Florentine artist-architect Elena Barthel

Along the way

As a special stop along the way, we’ll visit the Amalia Ciardi Duprè Museum on via degli Artisti. The three-hour event ends with a light celebratory snack. Admission: 15 euro. English and Italian will be spoken. 

The Oltrarno Gaze events program

The Heart to Hills hike and Bridges exhibition form part of the Oltrarno Gaze program, organized by The British Institute of Florence and Il Palmerino Cultural Association, with a grant from the Advancing Women Artist legacy fund. To participate:

Related articles


Swimming pools in Florence

8 pools for a cooling break this summer in the city


Outdoor cinema in Florence

Take your pick of the stellar selection of films under the stars.


Indie Unconference Europe 2024 to be held in Florence

Held from October 2 to 5, the event helps authors find their way in the world of independent publishing.