Dove Vai? – Travel To Italian World War II Sites with Anne Saunders

One of the joys of living in Italy is not only the chance to visit places where Renaissance artists, poets, dukes and popes wandered the same hallways and alleys, but to visit locations where no less dramatic, but much more recent history took place.

To Americans under 60 years of age World War II in Europe is often a vague set of facts found in a history book – a short chapter or two. Italy, like Normandy, provides a full semester’s course on the sociological background, politics, alliances, military strategies, and both tragic and victorious outcomes, especially from 1942 to … Read More

Dove Vai? – The Bardini Museum

Just over a year ago, the Bardini Museum in Florence opened to the public again after long and accurate restoration work aimed at re-establishing the configuration that its founder, the antiquarian Stefano Bardini, had originally given the exhibition. Bardini trained as a painter and became famous as a restorer and art dealer. He created a collection of artwork with a deep passion for the Renaissance and skill at unearthing medieval Florence. All can now enjoy this distinctive museum, which was actually the antiques showroom where Bardini sold thousands of pieces that now grace the galleries of museums as well as … Read More

Dove Vai? – The Laurentian Library by Michelangelo, Library # 6

The Laurentian Library (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana) in the cloister of the Church of San Lorenzo is not a library where the visitor to Florence can hang out in comfy chairs, but it is one of the most important libraries in Florence –  well worth a visit. The Laurentian was designed by Michelangelo and houses one of the largest neo-classical collections in the world. It is used today by scholars.

Designed by Michelangelo

The Laurentian Library was commissioned in 1523 by Giulio d’Medici, who became Pope Clement VII. Michelangelo came under intense pressure to work quickly; the correspondence between Read More

Tuscan Traveler’s Tale – Vasari Corridor is Open to All (Not!)

After three days, the reservation line reports all of the spots on the Percorso del Principe tours have been filled.  Tuscan Traveler suggests that such popularity calls for more tours on more days…

The Vasari Corridor, also known as the Percorso del Principe (Path of the Prince), is open to the general public until July 2010 on a limited schedule. A special part of the city’s historical heritage that has been under the control of few select guides and museum officials (often costing the visitor more than 100 euro for a short tour) has been declared open to all by … Read More

Dove Vai? – The Davanzati Palace: A Place to Escape the Crowds

The Davanzati Palace Museum is finally – after over 15 years of restoration – open to the public and is well worth a visit. An added benefit is that the madding crowds of Florence haven’t found it  – yet.

The Palace, built by the Davizzi family around mid-14th century, was purchased in 1578 by the Davanzati family and remained in their possession until 1838, when it was divided into several separate apartments, causing severe damage to the mix of Medieval and Renaissance interior design.

In 1904, it was purchased, restored to its 14th century structure, and filled with 14th to … Read More

Dove Vai? – Searching Venice for a Glass Mosquito

Tuscan Traveler took a brief sojourn in Venice with a very short wish list. The first priority was to eat as much great seafood as possible. That done, the search was on for the glass menagerie that includes tiny hand-made mosquitoes.

Bruno Amadi presides over a zoological garden of fragile plants, animals, fish, birds and frogs in a narrow back ally near the San Polo church. But the bugs are the best – a house fly so life-like you will want to swat it, mosquitoes balancing on spindly legs thinner than a human hair, and beetles in iridescent colors.

Mr. … Read More

Dove Vai? – Piazza del Capitolo, Library #5

Through a small ally the grand Piazza del Duomo, about half way along the south side of the cathedral, there  is a little square, Piazza del Capitolo, at one time known as Corte dei Visdomini for the noble family whose tower still stands near by. The Capitolo was (and is today) the Chapter of the Florence Duomo and has governed the actions of the priests, canons, provosts and other dignitaries of the cathedral and its predecessor church, Santa Reparata, since the before the 8th century.  Some say the Chapter goes back to Bishop Saint Zanobius in the 5th … Read More

Dove Vai? – Galileo First Editions at Biblioteca Biomedica, Library #4

The Year of Astronomy was celebrated in 2009 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s invention of the telescope. It was also a special opportunity to see the Florence Biomedical Library and its collection of first edition books published by the scientist, including the volume that brought him before the Inquisition.

The Biblioteca Biomedica is located in the Careggi Hospital complex. Galileo’s books came to the library from the collection stored at the ancient (built in 1288, but still in use) Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, located near the Duomo. It was a bit disconcerting to realize that over a million … Read More

Dove Vai? – The British Institute’s Comfy Reading Room, Library #3

The most Anglo American-styled library in Florence, the Harold Acton Library, is owned and operated by the British Institute of Florence. Contained on 2 ½ book-lined floors, the library allows full access to the stacks and provides knowledgeable assistance to the collection and extensive archives. The full catalogue is computerized and is available on-line. The Acton library contains the largest collection of English-language books in Italy.

There is a reading room, furnished with ancient over-stuffed couches and chairs, where both English and Italian newspapers and a variety of literary, economic, news and travel magazines completely cover the coffee table. … Read More

Dove Vai? – Tourists are welcome at the Oblate, Library #2

Americans and Brits usually find visiting libraries in Italy both frustrating and dissatisfying. The stacks are not open, so no browsing. You usually have to deal with a surly civil servant who will tell you that you do not have the right paperwork, but even if you did have lending privileges, it will take at least two weeks to obtain the books you are requesting and then you won’t be able to remove them from the premises and there is no place to sit down.

In May 2007, the Oblate Library (Biblioteca delle Oblate) opened. It is the … Read More