2023 has not been the brightest of years. From harrowing global events to a distressing uptick in violence against women—in the last 12 months in Italy, 106 women lost their lives at the hands of the men they trusted—and the destructive floods on our doorstep caused by climate change, our visual world has been strewn with the worst of news. In our trademark The Florentine style, we strive to bring some colour amid the grey with our December colouring-in cover by our very own Leo Cardini, whose inspiration comes from the International School of Florence’s Grade 4 and 5 students. Get involved in the holiday cheer by colouring in the front page or downloading a pdf (use the QR code on the right) before tagging your artistic efforts with #TFcover on Instagram.
The festive season gets underway with a few family favourites on page 3, plus holiday messages from community leaders Simon Gammell (The British Institute) and Chris Williams (St. Mark’s Church) (page 6). Our friends at the Paperback Exchange share some winter reading recommendations (page 7) and our Christmas gift guide provides useful present advice on pages 8 and 9. Since our stomping ground is Florence, we asked contemporary galleries B.east, Aria and Antonella Villanova for their tips on purchasing original pieces, and Christian Levett gave us his expert opinion on approaching the world of art collecting. If all else fails, give the gift of creativity with one of Florence’s many workshops at ateliers galore (page 11).
In this December issue, we stop by Giunti Odeon (for the umpteenth time: we just can’t stay away!) to observe how the cultural centre is being received a few weeks after its reopening. It’s a joy to see the dress circle lined with international students making the most of the lightning-fast wi-fi, cranked- up central heating and the inspiring surroundings. Meanwhile, business is brisk in the ground-floor bookshop ahead of the holidays. Learn all about the history of the Tre Porte palace and impress your friends. See pages 14 and 39.
From the annual light festival on the facades of the Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Vecchio to the Florence on Ice Village and the panoramic wheel in the Cascine’s piazza Vittorio Veneto, and Christmas markets galore. Shoutouts for the AILO Bazaar at the Tepidarium del Roster on December 8 and 9, Creative People in Florence’s contemporary craft fair at Ditta Artigianale Sant’Ambrogio on December 10 and 17, and Nataleperfile’s charity market at Palazzo Corsini on December 15-17. I can’t name them all here, but you’ll find the full list in our Best Events section on pages 19 to 22.
On the people front, Ireland’s renowned classical composer Patrick Cassidy talks to Paola Vojnovic about the film score he created for Ridley Scott’s Hannibal (page 28), Hicham Ben’Mbarek, the brains behind leather company Benheart chats, with Jane Farrell (page 29) and Colonel Cristiano Desideri takes Hershey Felder behind the scenes of Italy’s Carabinieri training facility near Florence Airport (pages 30-31). We end the year by interviewing two bright lights we have long admired. Italy Segreta’s founders (and twins!) Marina and Cesare Cacciapuoti chose Florence as base camp for their phenomenally successful Instagram account that has evolved into a creative agency, magazine publisher and experiences organizer (pages 24-25). While Marina finds “beauty in the complications” of her homeland, Duncan Geddes offers a few simple, laugh-out-loud ways to embrace Italian bureaucracy on pages 26 and 27.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Italy’s king of cakes, which is why we tasted the best of Florence’s artisanal panettoni on your behalf, aka #workperks, on pages 34 and 35.