Dove Vai? – To Siena to See the Door to Heaven

Experience the extraordinary opening of the Porta del Cielo (Door of Heaven)  – or, at least, Siena’s version of it. From April 6 to October 27, 2013, if you happen to visit Siena, don’t miss this spectacular opportunity.

[Photo Credits: Opera - Civita Group]

For the first time, after extensive renovation, it will be possible to take a tour of the walkways in the vault of the Duomo of Siena. Internal passages, balconies (both inside and outside) and hidden attic spaces will be open to small, guided groups. Until now, these parts of the Cathedral were accessible only to the architects and builders in charge of … Read More

Friend In Florence Gets a Nod From Dream of Italy

A favorite Italian-interest website (and newsletter), Dream of Italy, just named Friend In Florence and yours truly as one of Italy’s Best Local Tour Guides for 2013. A big GRAZIE to both founder Kathy McCabe and contributing editor Rebecca Winke (also of the fabulous Agriturismo Brigolante Guest Apartments in Umbria).

best-tour-guide-badge-largeOver ten years ago, Kathy McCabe had the brilliant idea of starting one of the first subscription travel newsletter on the Internet. She was passionate about all things Italy so it became Dream of Italy, The Insider’s Guide to Undiscovered Italy. The newsletter was awarded “Best Consumer … Read More

Dove Vai? – Florence is alive this week with Florens 2012

It seems like just yesterday that Florens 2010 brought a lawn to Piazza del Duomo and a full-sized David moved from place to place around Florence. For the second edition of this global cultural event, the city is graced with seventy olive trees forming a grove around the Baptistry and three historic crucifixes inside. Across town, the piazza in front of Santa Croce, as if by magic, has grown a cross of its own, made of tons of marble.

The olive grove is best seen early in the morning or late at night when the fewest people are around. The … Read More

Dove Vai? – The Umberto I Library at the Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute, Library #7

The Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute is a modern orthopedic hospital, founded in 1896 in the monastic complex of San Michele in Bosco on the hill close to the Bologna center. The Umberto I Central Library, named after King Umberto I, is located in the sixteenth-century rooms where once the books of the Olivetani monks were kept.

As with many historic locations in Italy, there is controversy as to the exact date of the construction of the first library of the monastery of Saint Michele in Bosco: to some it was raised towards the end of the 15th century, while others argue … Read More

Dove Vai? – Predappio, the Scariest Haunted Town in Italy

We weren’t there for the celebrations, but in August the town of Predappio, Italy, seemed haunted by Benito Mussolini, all the same.

Most Italians just try to forget about it, but they have just had to face up to this tricky subject again, as October 28 is the 90th anniversary of Mussolini’s “March on Rome” (1922) that brought the Fascist leader to power and enabled him to stay there for 23 years.

For many years after the fall of fascism, Italians turned their backs on their recent history. The fascist party was banned, the history curriculum in Italian schools even … Read More

Dove Vai? – To Savor ‘Cake Thinking’ at Palazzo Coveri

For a sugar high on a beautiful Spring day in Florence, walk on by Cake Thinking, a new free exhibit on display at the Gallery of Palazzo Coveri. The show, featuring the indulgent works of Tuscan artist Marina Calamai, is entirely dedicated to the theme of the dessert, interpreted in multiple manners and variations.

Arezzo-born Calamai’s creations depict a simple world that joyously combines the antique with the modern. These works are inspired by the art of Renaissance pastry-cooks, rediscovering and reconstructing the forms and colors of the sweetmeats that graced the table of Eleonora and Cosimo I de’ … Read More

Dove Vai? The Folon Rose Garden of Florence

I was intrigued by the sculptures of Jean-Michel Folon the first time I left Florence by car going south. There on a small traffic island stood a man with an umbrella — it was raining inside the umbrella. He was appropriately titled l’uomo della pioggia (the rain man).

Alexandra Kourey of fame caught a different view of the same statue, one winter day when someone forgot to turn the umbrella off — now he was the ice man.

My next sighting of Folon was in the butcher shop of Dario Cecchini. He was a friend of the artist … Read More

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – Florence Museum Card Face-Off

Attention:  Effective as of June 15, 2015, the Regional Secretary of the former Superintendency of the State Museums of Florence stipulated that Amici degli Uffizi members, holding valid membership and ID cards, are eligible for the free entrance and the priority pass to the Uffizi Gallery only. This severely limits the benefits of the card.

Trailing most other museum-intensive cities, Florence finally has two competing museum cards. And before too many more months pass, I promised myself that I would perform an analysis of the relative worth of the Firenze Card and the Amici degli Uffizi Card, which … Read More

Dove Vai? – Art and Pathology Meet in New Exhibit

For those visiting or living in Florence, only a short time is left to experience one of the most unique and wonderful exhibits for those interested in either the art of wax modeling or the science of medical-surgical pathology practiced in the 1800s.

The free exhibit, called Oltre il Corpo, L’uomo (Besides the Body, the Man), will end February 12, 2011.

Fans of the anatomical wax collection of the La Specola Museum, who want to take the experience up a notch must go immediately to the newly constructed entrance (one of the few successful modern pieces of architecture in … Read More

Dove Vai? – Uffizi Exhibit of Self-Portraits of “Invisible Women”

At the Uffizi Gallery’s free exhibition space, Sala delle Reali Poste, an exciting exhibit has just opened. Called Autoritratte: ‘Artiste di capriccioso e destrissimo ingegno’’  (Women Artists Self-Portraits: “Women artists of wit and great ingenuity”), offers a rare opportunity to view eighty of the museum’s historic collection of self-portraits that range from the 16th century to the late 1800s. The quotation in the title is from Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, in which he mentions only one woman, the 16th century sculptor Properzia de’Rossi, whom he praises for her inventiveness and technical skill in being able to carve … Read More