My current read focuses on Italy’s long-standing relationship with citrus trees. Voted ‘Food Book of the Year’ by The Guild of Food Writers in 2015, Helena Attlee’s The Land Where Lemons Grow is recommended for Italy (and lemon) lovers as we slowly wait for the arrival of spring. It also makes you want to get on a plane, train or whatever means possible to visit the Medici citrus collection in the Boboli Gardens, the citrus terrace at the Medici villa in Castello and the still-life museum at Poggio a Caiano to set eyes on Bartolomeo Bimbi’s glorious citrus oil paintings. And so, The Florentine’s March issue concentrates on all things nature.
Issue 298 – When everything blossoms
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Spring is so near—and yet so far. Birdsong lls the air, mimosa tickles the nose and the magnolia trees bloom about town. This March issue celebrates all things green.
Cover image: Vincenzo Maccarrone @one_art_factory
First up is Suzi Jenkins’ candid look at Tuscany’s wolf population. At least three people I know have had close encounters of the canis lupus kind in recent weeks: one came across a pack whilst walking at high altitude in the Casentino forests, two wolves were seen tucking into roadkill on a country lane a kilometre or so from a residential area, and a farmer lost one of his guard dogs during an attack on his livestock in the hills of Florence. Calculating wolf numbers is a tricky task, but it is certainly true that the predator appears less scared of humans than usual, drawing closer to towns in search of sustenance and new territory (potentially due to higher numbers in the wolf population). A similar connection can be made with wild boar. A video of a sounder of cinghiali scuttling along the banks of Florence’s other river, the Mugnone, went viral last month.
Leaving the call of the wild behind, our intern Sophia Cerullo reviews the city’s horticultural history before providing a list of favourite Florentine florists to add a touch of green to your home. Meanwhile, Alexandra Korey heads for the hiking trails around Fiesole to explore the hills where Leonardo is said to have tested his flying machine and quarries extracted the pietra serena stone put to fine use in Florentine feats of architecture. From daisies to violets, licensed tour guide Elena Fulceri loaned her plant expertise to our wild flower spotting guide.
Women’s rights always come to the forefront in March due to Festa della Donna (International Women’s Day) on the 8th. While it can (and should be argued) that one day alone is far from sufficient to address fundamental matters concerning half of the human population, such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and abuse against women, it is nevertheless an occasion to take stock and mobilize. With this in mind, a strong 100-piece display at the Pitti Palace celebrates Eleonora di Toledo, duchess, influencer and a female leader of the Renaissance: Linda Falcone tells us all about the Spanish duchess on page 6. Back in the here and now, we interview four inspiring women in contemporary Florence: food entrepreneur Xin Ge Liu, a star on the international dining scene and owner of recently opened restaurant Il Gusto di Xin Ge (page 27); Donatella Cinelli Colombini, who is rallying female women in wine to bring benefits to the multi-million euro industry (page 28); art historian, tour guide and educator Paola Vojnovic, whose online Studiolo talk series is currently devoted to Renaissance Women (page 20); and Houston-born content creator and skincare expert Sofia Medina (page 21). And if you’re wondering how to mark Festa della Donna, Phoebe Hunt has provided a round-up of places to purchase mimosa blossoms, mimosa cakes and mimosa cocktails as well as more important moments centred on culture and activism (page 19).
This month’s cover is a romantic take on an age-old scene of piazza Santa Maria Novella by photographer-turned-artist Vincenzo Maccarrone, whose new project invites us to view the future with optimism. “As an art director accustomed to having a shared vision, now I want to offer a personal perspective. For me, the challenge lies in providing a romantic, yet less glossy view of Florence, which deliberately shows more imperfection.”
If you’re suffering from the winter blues, head for our things to do section and plan the month ahead amongst book presentations (Antony Beevor at The British Institute on March 23, perhaps) and exhibitions (Reaching for the Stars at Palazzo Strozzi, the Fontana/Giacometti double act at Museo Novecento and Palazzo Vecchio and Y.Z. Kami across Museo Novecento, Palazzo Vecchio, Museo degli Innocenti and San Miniato al Monte).
Life moves in cycles. So, please join me in congratulating our deputy editor Jane Farrell on the birth of her son, Rian James, while this March issue is dedicated to the memory of Roberto “Bobby” Badiani (1941-2023).
As always, my sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue.
Enjoy the March issue of The Florentine!