300 issues of The Florentine have been made possible thanks to our editors, contributors and interns down the years. We sent out a blast from the past to find out what these former TF-ers remember from their time at the magazine and what they went on to do next.
Back in 2005, when The Florentine was but a newborn, I took the brooms and mops out of my hall closet and shoved a desk in there. “Voilà,” I told myself. “Now you have an office. Get to work.” Florence needed a newspaper in two weeks’ time and that hall closet was the closest thing to Narnia I could conjure. The day we put that paper to bed, I spoke to boss Marco Badiani at what would later become our orange-walled press room in the Oltrarno, telling him how anxiety-filled creating my first issue had been. “Don’t worry,” he said, “The next one, you’ll do dancing.” It was true, and his axiom still helps me with every worrisome endeavour. “Be brave,” I tell myself, “the next one—whatever the task—will be a tango.”
Debating, talking and chatting about all things under the sun with Giacomo Badiani was a huge highlight! Hot summer lunches in the dining room, fans spinning, and Giovanni Giusti taking a siesta on the sofa, flip flops et al. Running all over Florence, meeting people and seeing places I never would have seen if I wasn’t chasing the latest story for The Florentine. Helen’s wit and intelligence: her editing made me a better writer! There’s really too many to count. I went on to work at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano, where I still work now, as their communication and social media manager. The Florentine sent me to cover Antony Gormley’s press conference at the Uffizi in 2019, where I met my now boss.
Apart from the people and general lunchtime chatter, my favourite memory of my time at TF was my final assignment: writing up a review of the top rooftop bars in Florence. I got to go to some amazing venues where I was treated to the finest Italian hospitality: cocktails, cicchetti and the most breath-taking views. While I had definitely had an interest in journalism before, it definitely cemented it as my career choice. After completing my internship at The Florentine (and thus concluding my year abroad), I went back to Bristol to finish my degree and graduate before embarking on an NCTJ (journalism diploma), which I fortunately completed just before lockdown. I now work as a video producer at Reuters in their TV news department in London, covering all the major global current affairs, from the war in Ukraine to the Queen’s funeral. Having started there in the showbiz department, I am still lucky enough to attend and cover glitzy events like the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals.
My favorite memories of TF were, without a doubt, working on the Pazzi Chapel restoration project, as well as going to the Web Show Awards with the team at the Motor Show in Bologna. Also, I absolutely loved our lunches from that takeaway place around the corner from the office (although I can’t remember what it was called now… I hope it’s still there!). Since my time at The Florentine, I’ve moved around quite a bit. I spent the following year teaching English at a university in Santiago, Chile, and then moved back to London to get my master’s at the London School of Economics. I’ve now been living in New York for the past four years where I’m a consultant at a large tech company. I still try to make it back to Florence though at least once a year!
From the first day that I pushed open those heavy wooden doors on via dei Banchi, my internship at The Florentine granted me the immense pleasure of seeing Florence through a journalistic and linguistic lens. As a solo Australian traveller and student of la bella lingua, The Florentine filled my Italian adventure with purpose. During long wanderings along the Arno, hours analysing Renaissance frescoes, and mornings shopping and chatting with fruttivendoli at the Sant’Ambrogio market, I was always on the lookout for a new story or a fresh idea to test out with my colleagues (while I tested out my Italian) in editorial meetings. I also relished lunchtimes in the Florentine office. At 1pm there would be a cry of si mangia?, placemats would be pulled from kitchen cupboards and a queue for the microwave would start to form. The ritual of sitting down as an office to share lunch, stories and experiences stayed with me long after my internship ended. I would look back fondly on the new Italian phrases learnt, new impressions of Florence gained and new friendships formed during our lunch breaks. My internship at The Florentine emboldened my thirst for the Italian language and I came back to Melbourne knowing that my return to Italy was inevitable. Just over 18 months later, I was sitting in the front row of a lecture theatre at the oldest university in the world, throwing myself into a semester-long exchange at the University of Bologna. Returning to Florence on weekends to catch up with friends and visiting The Florentine office in time for an editorial meeting felt like a pilgrimage to where my Italian journey began. Back in Australia, in 2020, I finished my double degree of Journalism and Law. I now work as a lawyer specialising in technology and media law. I still frequently share vocali with my Italian friends, and even though it’s been six years since I first pushed open those heavy wooden doors on via dei Banchi, Florence is never far from my thoughts.
I have a whole catalogue of fond memories from my year (2012-13) at The Florentine: from interviewing Bradley Wiggins and reporting on Fiorentina games at the Artemio Franchi, to doing a day-long wine tour of Chianti with TF’s Chief Oenophile Giacomo Badiani, and beyond. With these life experiences under my belt, I moved to the Netherlands. Here I’ve founded (and now manage) a corporate communications agency, Narrative Labs. Like at TF, we do a lot of deadline-inspired writing and editing, but alas, fewer wine tours!
When I think about The Florentine, I see the image of the lunch table filled with laughter as the sun beams through the window. I didn’t speak much Italian, but I was always happy to have a seat at the table. I think of the moment when Marco told me I should try making my illustrations of UNESCO sites into a motion graphic, something I have never done before and I tried anyway. I think of the day when I saw my cover design show up in cafes all over Florence and felt incredibly lucky to be given such opportunity and trust to do it. I am now working as the Senior Editor of Visuals for the New York Times based in Seoul. Looking back, I think the time I spent and work I did at The Florentine was instrumental to my personal and professional growth, the mantra that “this seems like a fun idea, I have no idea how to do it, but let me try figure it out” is definitely something I carried on with me.
–Weiyi (Dawn) Cai
I was an advertising intern at The Florentine way back in 2009 and my pet project was subscription sales. I cold called and visited hotel managers around Florence to sell them subscription packages to the paper. I’ll never forget the day the fax machine in the office beeped and my first order came through; Giacomo Badiani and I danced around the desks with joy. After countless rejections, I had finally made my first sale! Upon my return to Australia, I worked as a graduate strategic business analyst in a corporate environment, and have since moved on to join my family business running automotive dealerships. My experience at The Florentine instilled a great sense of persistence in me, as well as giving me lots of confidence which I’ve utilised in many situations throughout my career. If I could cold call Florentine hoteliers in Italian, I could do anything!