Author: Deirdre Pirro

Deirdre Pirro, author of "Italian Sketches: The Faces of Modern Italy", published by The Florentine Press, is an international lawyer who lives and works in Florence. Her writing focuses on modern Italy, its people, its history and its customs. Follow her on Twitter @dp_in_florence or contact her at [email protected]
July 14, 2021

Italian Sketches: Francesco Carletti

The son of Antonio Carletti and his wife Lucrezia Macinghi, Francesco Carletti was born in Florence in either 1573 or 1574. His father was a descendant of an old merchant family who traded with Spain, Portugal and their colonies, travelling widely to do so. In 1591, when Francesco was about 18 years old, his father […]
May 20, 2021

St. Mark’s English Church

To encourage trade through the port of Livorno, Grand Duke Ferdinand I de’ Medici passed an edict in 1595 that allowed freedom of religion to all merchants. Soon, an English cemetery was established and, in 1600, a chapel was opened by the English Guild of Merchants. A Church of England congregation of largely British expatriates […]
April 16, 2021

The Busatti Family: weavers since 1842

A friend telephoned me a month ago and said, “I’m coming by to take you to see a real piece of industrial archaeology”. He did that and so much more. He took me to a unique place in Tuscany that I had never visited and introduced me to one of the finest examples of excellence […]
March 24, 2021

Italian Sketches: Elvira Gemignani Puccini

On November 29, 1924, aged 65, the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini died of a heart attack as a result of radiation treatment he was undergoing for throat cancer at the Institut de la Couronne in Belgium. He left a fortune equivalent to 200 million euro in today’s money, making him one of the richest musicians […]
February 17, 2021

The Buffalo Soldiers

Bob Marley wrote “Buffalo Soldier” with Noel “King Sporty” Williams, but the song was released by Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1983, two years after the singer-songwriter’s death. It became one of Marley’s most popular songs with its catchy refrain:   I’m just a Buffalo Soldier In the heart of America Stolen from Africa, […]
January 28, 2021

Famous Expats: Felix Le Monnier

The court case lasted almost 20 years and created a sensation at the time because it involved one of Italy’s most beloved authors and a prestigious French publisher, who had made his home and established his reputation in Florence. Between 1840 and 1845, the publisher Felix (often called “Felice” in Italian) Le Monnier republished thousands […]
December 24, 2020

The Christmas wreath

Every year, the first thing I do when preparing for the festive season is to hang a circular Christmas wreath on my front door. I used to make my own of laurels, leaves and holly, but now I simply unpack the beautiful wreath I bought at the Christmas market in piazza Santa Croce from its […]
November 5, 2020

Italian Sketches: Rose Montmasson

When in via della Scala, take a moment to pause outside number 50 and look at the plaque on the wall. It translates into English: In this palace which was built in Florence the Capital lived Francesco Crispi with his wife Rose Montmasson who landed with the Thousand in Marsala and was the altruistic nurse […]
October 27, 2020

Barsene “Baldissera” Conti

On May 15, 1896, a small, slender woman with a baby in her arms lay down across the tram track in Brozzi, a town on the outskirts of Florence. Her name was Barsene Conti, soon to be better known as “Baldissera” after General Antonio Baldissera, governor of Eritrea. For the month between May and June, […]
October 6, 2020

Historic quarantine in Livorno

When William Magee Seton left New York on board the  sailing ship “Sheperdess” on October 2, 1803, he could not have imagined he would never return to his homeland. Born into a wealthy and socially prominent family, he and his wife Elizabeth Baley, known as Eliza, whom he had married in 1794  seemed to have […]