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heritage

ART + CULTURE

Piazza della Passera: past to present

Slightly off the tourist trail, yet only a stone’s throw away from piazza Pitti, if you were to turn right onto via dello Sprone, after a few steps you would find yourself standing in the charming piazza della Passera. Although one of Florence’s smallest squares, it

ART + CULTURE

The Brunelleschi arch

Filmmaker David Battistella moved to Florence from Canada in 2011 to pursue his dream: writing and producing a feature film based on Ross King’s 2000 book Brunelleschi‘s Dome, about the ...

ART + CULTURE

The Medici balls

The Medici family has always been associated with balls. Six of them to be exact. Their family emblem, five red balls (palle, in Italian) and one blue, on a gold shield, decorate numerous buildings all over Florence and Tuscany-any palazzo, church or monument to which the Medici had connections

ART + CULTURE

The Virgin Mary’s belt

There is much more to Prato, a town about 10 kilometres north of Florence, than its textile industry, almond biscuits and modern art museum. For instance, at 6 pm each Christmas Day, it is the site of one of Italy's most unusual religious ceremonies. The main cathedral, which is

ART + CULTURE

World War II in Italy

April 25 marked the 66th anniversary of Italian liberation from fascism. This year, the national holiday fell on pasquetta, the day after Easter, marking rebirths both religious and national. On ...

ART + CULTURE

The Italian Risorgimento: A timeline

The process of Italian unification was the result of nearly 60 years of events, daring action and revolutionary ideas. Here is a timeline of the key moments leading to and ...

ART + CULTURE

Turin > Florence > Rome

As Italy celebrated 150 years of unification, Tuscans recognize this anniversary as a significant milestone for the region, but especially for Florence. Although Tuscany and Florence are known as being ...

ART + CULTURE

Orsanmichele, the church that guilds built

Built by the city guilds, which encompassed both civil and religious functions, Orsanmichele was constructed in 1336, on the site of San Michele monastery’s kitchen garden. Originally a grain market, ...

THINGS TO DO

The palio

Summer in Siena means the Palio a famed historic horse race run each year on July 2 and Aug. 16.  The Palio tradition dates back to the 11th cen-tury, when the race was initiated to honor the Madonna dellAssunta, patroness and advocate of Siena, for her protection of

THINGS TO DO

Peace, Politics, and Paper-mache

Most people are familiar with the masked revellers at the Carnevale in Venice, but another truly fantastic celebration ofCarneVa (literally meaning the “meat goes”) is held each year in the Tuscan coastal city of Viareggio. Here the stars of the show are the spectacular papier-mâch&

THINGS TO DO

Venice unmasked

I got lost on my last trip to Venice.  It makes no difference that it was my twentieth trip to La Serenissima in half as many years, or that I can, on a very good day, navigate its infinite bridges and narrow calli without a second thought.  During

THINGS TO DO

Good Swill Hunting

Proverbial wisdom about early birds catching worms doesn’t apply to boar. I am used to fox hunting in the US, where you have to be ready to go at dawn. Not so with boar hunting; at nine am the hunters were just starting to arrive.    The

ART + CULTURE

Florence as a capital city 1865-1870

The political situation arising from the decision to move the capital to Florence.

ART + CULTURE

San Gimignano celebrates its mediaeval past

Once again this June, San Gimignano – famous for its lofty towers and picturesque streets and squares – celebrates the “Ferie delle Messi,” a pageant that dates back to 1255. This traditional fertility festival features street music, theatre and markets, a costume parade and jousting – a full

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