Summer’s here, or thereabouts. This weekend, I dived into the cambio di stagione, that defining moment when one season’s clothes are replaced with the next. Sweaters and weighty trousers go into the wash before being stored away in the depths of the wardrobe, while short-sleeved tops and floaty skirts now occupy the main rail. It’s a cathartic turning point. Garments are not the only items facing change. Florence gears up for the hotter months with the return of the city-sponsored summer events showcase, Estate Fiorentina, which promises 12 hot venues, 15 festivals, 111 projects and six themed events, including a retrospective on Italian singer-songwriter Giorgio Gaber 20 years after his death and another on priest Don Milani, educator of poor children and an advocate for conscientious objection.
Issue 301 – Built to last
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Get a glimpse of the 14th-century Sant’Orsola religious complex as the long-derelict location opens for an inaugural exhibition. It’s part of a multi-million development by a French company.
Cover image: Courtesy of Museo Sant’Orsola
June is also Pride Month, hence our list of LGBT+ events in Florence and Tuscany as well as organizations and safe spaces. Plus, there are plenty of exhibitions worth checking out, including the Luca Giordano Baroque art show at Palazzo Medici Riccardi, the Lisetta Carmi photographic show at Villa Bardini, American photographer Steve McCurry’s Children at the Istituto degli Innocenti, and Arizona-born artist Rachel Feinstein across Museo Stefano Bardini, Palazzo Medici Riccardi and Museo Marino Marini.
This month’s cover story zooms in on the first steps of the multimillion development underway at the sprawling Sant’Orsola complex. Long-term readers of The Florentine might remember fleeting past openings of this former convent that occupies an entire city block near the San Lorenzo market. Believed to be the final resting place of Lisa Gherardini, supposedly Leonardo da Vinci’s model for his Mona Lisa, the 14th-century nunnery occupies a mind-boggling 5,000 square metres above ground and a massive 17,000 square metres across three subterranean levels. After numerous false starts on the sale and rental front, in January 2021 the news was announced that French company Artex would be investing over 30 million euro to develop a community hub. Now, in June 2023, an inaugural exhibition, Beyond the Walls of Sant’Orsola, by artists Sophia Kisielewska-Dunbar and Alberto Ruce will open in what is expected to become the Sant’Orsola Museum when the urban renewal project is completed in 2025, alongside an art and design school, restaurants and cafes, social housing, artisan and artists’ workshops, and coworking spaces. Don’t miss this opportunity to become reacquainted with such a fascinating piece of Florence’s history and, most likely, its future.
Another community-centric event to watch out for this month is SALT – Sant’Ambrogio in Festival as the popular neighbourhood celebrates its identity from June 15 to 18. Inspired by the life lessons of food entrepreneur Fabio Picchi, who died in 2022, his son, Giulio, and wife, Maria Cassi, are organizing four days of “Sant’Ambrogio-ism” with interfaith and charity dinners, performances and visits to local artisans and monuments. The festival is poised to provide some locals-first solace in a city overwrought by here today, gone tomorrow tourism.
This month’s issue features two more instances of community start-ups: Pimp My Vintage continues to bring people together through pre-loved clothes and Intreccio Creativo, a group of six internationally minded artisans, aims to ensure creativity in everyone’s lives by offering workshops through the Florence area. On the interview front, Sabina Corsini, the energetic descendent of the aristocratic Florentine family, shares her love of forestry and the next generation of artisans, while writers Wallis Wilde-Menozzi and Joanna Margaret provide deliberation on their diverse genres (one’s more poetic, the other’s more “booktok”).
After a long night out at one of Florence’s many summer hotspots this June, indulge in the midnight spaghetti with garlic, chilli and olive oil recipe from Rome-based Iranian writer and food photographer Saghar Setareh’s sumptuous new book Pomegranates & Artichokes, which celebrates the food cultures of both regions. As is our tradition, Deirdre Pirro has the “final say” on page 39 with a fascinating look at Italian regalia used in bygone coronations.
Hot on the heels of the success of our Issue 300 Party (thanks to everyone who came: it meant so much to us all!), we’ve decided to throw a Red, White + Blue Party at Hotel Savoy for the Fourth of July.