Issue 304 – Pieces of peace

BUY THIS ISSUE – The Florentine October 2023

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Exhibitions are associated with autumn in all world cities, a predilection that’s quadrupled (at least) in a cultural cache like Florence and which this year feels all the more eclectic.

Cover image: Marco Badiani



Our cover shows multi-disciplinary artist Felice Limosani’s magnetizing installation in the slumberous Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni (page 4), which brought me several minutes of peace one manic day as we were preparing this issue for the printers. Mirrored motion and mesmerizing music in an obscure courtyard off piazza Santa Trinita will surely provide a contrast to the crowds filling Palazzo Strozzi when Anish Kapoor’s blockbuster exhibition opens on October 7 (page 23). A racy yet refined show has already opened at Museo Novecento in a return of Robert Mapplethorpe’s provocative photography 40 years after his debut at Palazzo delle Cento Finestre (page 18). In this instance, the New Yorker’s captures are placed in dialogue with images by Wilhelm von Gloeden’s renowned nude studies. In stark contrast, academics are sure to admire German art historian Aby Warburg’s show (page 22) in the hallowed halls of the Uffizi as a tribute to the scholar’s connection to Florence’s foremost gallery and the city itself. Street art enthusiasts should head to via Palazzuolo to check out ten unique works on the shutters of ten local businesses. In mid-September, the resident Street Levels Gallery invited renowned street artists Clet, Exit Enter, Droste, James Vega, Kraita317, Luchadora, Miles, Monograff, Mr. G, Nian and Urto to “sign” the bandoni in an urban regeneration scheme supported by the city council (pages 28-29). London- born, New York-based artist Cecily Brown brings her Temptations, Torments, Trials and Tribulations to Museo Novecento and the Palazzo Vecchio’s Camerino di Bianca Cappello, where the grand duchess of Tuscany observed the political goings-on without showing her face (Deirdre Pirro explains the space in her column on page 47), Alphonse Mucha’s 19th-century Art Nouveau illustrations headline at Museo degli Innocenti and futurism gets a look-in at the Fortunato Depero showcase at Palazzo Medici Riccardi. All this goes hand in hand with the return of the Florence Biennale from October 14 to 22, when 600-plus exhibiting artists from five continents take up residence at the Fortezza da Basso (page 24). American photographer David LaChapelle and Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava are expected to be in town to receive lifetime achievement awards. While I could list more of the art shows in Florence this month, ample space must also be given to the diverse film festivals at Cinema La Compagnia, from the FánHuā Chinese Film Festival to Middle East Now, France Odeon and Florence Queer Festival.
Art and culture aside, our community has switched up a gear. Simon Gammell of The British Institute makes a case for the coexistence of two separate cities within the one city (page 12), Fr. Kramer Cameron of Santi Apostoli Church presents the forthcoming launch of the non-religious Florence Leadership Academy to inspire tomorrow’s leaders (page 6) and Chiara Cecconi takes readers through their paces as part of her Runners in Florence group (page 11). Linda Falcone is busier than ever with the Palace Women: Oltrarno and Beyond cultural programme across various venues this autumn (page 20) as well as the opening of the Artemisia in the Museum of Michelangelo exhibition at Casa Buonarroti (page 19), the culmination of a two-year restoration project sponsored by Calliope Arts and Christian Levett.
As far as kids are concerned, Italy’s largest family-run toy store, Dreoni, celebrates its centenary this month with a fantastic exhibition of vintage games and a two-day party that’s open to all (page 9), while non-gender-specific children’s playstore LíLá Toys opens in the Oltrarno (page 8) and a group of American-loving Italian entice us out to their pumpkin patch “theme park” in the Valdarno (page 44).
This October issue is an extravaganza of everything that makes contemporary Florence such an enthralling place to live and work. Yes, the city has its issues (we look into the rise of homelessness on page 5), but it’s the people and their drive to create and contribute that continue to make Florence an inspiring home to many, locals and internationals alike.

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