Issue 301 – Built to last

BUY THIS ISSUE – The Florentine June 2023 Choose between PDF Digital edition or Paper copy delivered to your home.

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



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.

June is Pride Month, hence our list of LGBT+ events in Florence and Tuscany as well as organizations and safe spaces.

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, 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.

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Weight 100 g

Digital PDF, Paper copy