Festa della Donna

Festa della Donna

Each year on March 8 International Women's Day is celebrated throughout the world. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day. Italian's call this day "Festa della Donna" and in Florence it is widely celebrated and usually includes giving women a traditional bouquet (which you will find in flower shops all over Florence):

"Traditionally the women are given a small bouquet of mimosa - yellow flowers in a small cluster, that emit a sweet fragrance, and spend the evening without male company."

(We usually break with the latter part of that - as I make a special dinner for the women in my life)

The origins of this day are many, including:

"...memorializing two events outside of Italy: a March 8, 1857, strike by women garment workers in New York, which led to the formation two years later of the first women's union in the United States, and a strike by Russian women calling for "bread and peace" on March 8, 1917 (February 23 on the old Russian calendar but March 8 in the rest of the world.)"

Florentines and their dogs

Florentines seem to take as much pride in their dogs as in most things - which is a lot. On any sunny Sunday in the center of town you are usually treated to a wonderful display of all kinds of breeds. Here are some we photographed in the last few years:

(This is Salvatore above - actually a dog of a friend of ours)

Florence-On-Line is pleased to present this introduction to sculpture in Florence from Alexandra Korey. You can find more of her writing on Florence at: www.arttrav.com

You probably know that Florence is the city in which the Renaissance was born. You may not be totally familiar with the concept that the style we call Renaissance first became apparent in sculpture, rather than in painting and architecture, which followed soon after.

Four Crowned Saints

Quattro Santi Coronati (Four Crowned Saints), Orsanmichele

Some of the first sculptural works in the Renaissance style were made for Orsanmichele, a building in the center of Florence that was the city's grain storage building, but that turned into a church because of a revered Madonna housed there. Each of the guilds of Florence were charged to make a sculpture for Orsanmichele's exterior niches, and it's here that we see a kind of face-off between Ghiberti, an older generation artist working in bronze, and the young upstart Donatello, making his first marbles in the first decade of the 1400s. All of the works in the niches now are copies, but they're worth looking at, or you can visit the Orsanmichele museum to see the originals (open only on Mondays from 10am to 5pm - and it's free).


Popularly known as the "Gaddi Torso" for the wealthy Florentine family that possessed it in the early 16th century, this sculptural fragment of a faun or centaur - half man, half beast - was probably "discovered" in Rome.

It is of Greek origin, from around the second century B.C. and may have been in the private collection of Lorenzo Ghiberti before coming to the Gaddi.

It is one of the most perfect pieces of sculpture I have ever seen (yes, I am putting this piece up there with the Pietà  of Michelangelo) - it is so alive, so coiled - I always expect to see it spring off the pedestal. I am not sure why the scholarship has the history as it does, it is hard to find a lot of detail on pieces like this in English. But why it is listed as "Fauno" and not just a fragment from something else is purely an interpretation of the pose - the centaur tied with his hands around his back is an iconic image of the late Hellenistic period - and it must be assumed that is what scholars see when looking at this. Remarkably and I think correctly it has never been "restored" - meaning hands, arms, legs, etc. attached from speculation. If it had been I think it would have lost much of its power.

This (smuggled) photo is from part of the "New" Uffizi and this piece's new permanent home. It used to be in the first room on the right in the main corridor on the top floor (when you reached the top and "entered" the museum proper, you would have to turn to the right and look at it from the corridor in the room full of other Greek and Roman sculptures). Now it is in the newly renovated part of the museum on the opposite side, which is painted a rather gaudy red. Again, according to current scholarship this was how these salons were originally set up and painted. I don't mind the color as much as the hallway like feeling of the room - the viewing experience, after all this work on the new rooms of the museum, seems cramped and rushed as most people at this point are just shuffling to the exit.

Still, this piece alone is in my top ten reasons to visit Florence. Try to see it off season or late in the day so you can spend some time in front of it without huge crowds around you.

La Rassegna dell'Olio di Reggello

This annual event of the first pressing of Olive Oil from the town of Reggello is a great opportunity to get the full flavor of the spicy, green and gold Tuscan olive oil (our favorite!). And of course it is all for sale. For years they had set up in Piazza Santa Croce - but the info on their website has the festival taking place this weekend in Reggello (about a 45 minute drive for the center of Florence). If you have a car, I highly recommend it!

La Rassegna dell'Olio di Reggello

Here is a message from the Mayor of Reggello:

La Rassegna dell'Olio di Reggello, giunta all'onorevole traguardo della quarantunesima edizione, rappresenta un momento importante nella vita della nostra comunità .

Con l'anticipazione della data abbiamo voluto infatti segnare nuovamente,(come fu pensata in origine) l'inizio vero della campagna olearia.

L'olio ਠil prodotto di maggior pregio che la nostra terra produce. L'olio ਠsimbolo del nostro territorio, abbellito dal colore verdastro degli olivi sui terrazzamenti delle nostre colline; ਠil veicolo per trasmettere la qualità  della nostra agricoltura e l'eccellenza del nostro territorio.
La purezza chimica e organolettica del nostro olio trova le sue radici nella sapienza e nel lavoro della nostra gente che coltiva l'olivo da tempo immemore e che continua a farlo, pur tra tante difficoltà ,ancora oggi.

Venire a Reggello ad assaggiare l'olio nuovo, sarà  il miglior veicolo per trasmettere , attraverso il suo gusto unico e la sua bontà , la bellezza di un territorio e al tempo stesso la saggezza di un popolo che ancora sa privilegiare la qualità , il gusto del buono, il piacere del bello.

Il Sindaco
Dott. Cristiano Benucci

Here are some photos from the "Fiera della Ceramica", in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. This is an annual event that usually takes place the first weekend of October and is organized by the Arte della Ceramica. It is a wonderful market with so much unique work by a wide variety of European ceramists, along with some food local vendors and entertainment. Highly recommended!


I have highlighted the work of German artist Heiner Bauer above. Heiner was always one of my favorite artists at this event year after year, but I am afraid to say that he passed away sometime in 2012.

There are also some amazing pieces by Stefano Innocenti among many others.

The Cradle of the Renaissance, Part 1

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Here is an entertaining tourist video of a visit to Florence, Part 1. While the scholarship may be a bit brief I applaud the effort - nice job:

You will also see him eat a tripe sandwich - the cart is in Piazza Cimatori right in the center of town, and actually my favorite place for bollito (boiled beef sandwich).

Santa Maria Novella

Started in 1221, Santa Maria Novella is chronologically the oldest great basilica in Florence. It was designed by two Dominican friars, Fra Sisto Fiorentino and Fra Ristoro da Campi. Further work on the basilica continued on commission from Giovanni di Paolo Rucellai who asked Leone Battista Alberti to complete the magnificent façade. The structure is a good example of humanist architecture, with proportion and classically-inspired detailing creating a balance with the pre-existing medieval part of the façade.

Santa Maria Novella

San Lorenzo

There has been a church on the site of San Lorenzo since 393, making it one of the oldest churches in Florence. The church as it appears now, however, is the result of a renovation begun in 1421 by Giovanni di Bicci de'Medici, who commissioned a new design for the church from Filippo Brunelleschi. This began a relationship between the Medici family and San Lorenzo that lasted for more than a century. The family lavished money on the church with a variety of projects, including the Medici Chapel.