Tuesday, 30 May 2017


When the heat of Florence gets too much it's nice to be able to escape to the surrounding hills.  Walking up to Piazza San Marco if you wait and catch the number 7 bus for a mere 1 euro 20 (2.40 return) you'll be whisked up into the surrounding green of Fiesole in a matter of minutes (I've put what will hopefully be a useful photo of the timetable below). The small village is famous for its incredible Roman ruins and beautiful views over the city.

It's also famous for being at the heart of E.M. Forster's A Room with a View (one of the most famous books to be set in Florence) as it's near Fiesole where the protagonist Lucy Honeychurch is kissed by George Emerson in a poppy and barley field overlooking Florence. It's also mentioned in one of the first pieces of wisdom she's offered when she arrives in Florence by Mr. Beebe:
“Don’t neglect the country round,” his advice concluded. “The first fine afternoon drive up to Fiesole, and round by Settignano, or something of that sort.” 
I'm ashamed to think that I'm encouraging you to become the very people that Mr. Eager despises (who seems like the voice of Forster himself here):
Sometimes as I take tea in their beautiful grounds I hear, over the wall, the electric tram squealing up the new road with its loads of hot, dusty, unintelligent tourists who are going to ‘do’ Fiesole in an hour in order that they may say they have been there, and I think—think—I think how little they think what lies so near them.
However I have confidence you'll want to visit Fiesole again, and linger for far longer than an hour, and with the bus there's really no excuse to not head up to the hills once every now and then. I'm determined to explore further afield. Forster describes the countryside and ruins around Fiesole beautifully:
A hollow like a great amphitheatre, full of terraced steps and misty olives, now lay between them and the heights of Fiesole, and the road, still following its curve, was about to sweep on to a promontory which stood out in the plain.
These photos were taken from the small memorial garden on the way up the hill to the magical San Francesco Monastery. If this view is the 'hackneyed view' that is discarded by Mr. Eager then I'm certainly eager to see what the other hills around Florence hold in store! 
I am about to venture a suggestion. Would you and Miss Honeychurch be disposed to join me in a drive some day this week—a drive in the hills? We might go up by Fiesole and back by Settignano. There is a point on that road where we could get down and have an hour’s ramble on the hillside. The view thence of Florence is most beautiful—far better than the hackneyed view of Fiesole. 

For those attempting to take the bus here's the timetable:


Friday, 26 May 2017

In the Studio

Sadly Libri Bianchi by Lorenzo Perrone has now come to an end in the Harold Acton Library. However something I forgot to mention previously, during my first few days in Florence I was lucky enough to stumble upon Lorenzo's studio. It turns out I live just around the corner from where he creates his incredible white books in Oltrarno (south of the Arno). Walking into the Institute for my Italian lessons one day I glanced over the street to see his works peeking out from behind his studio door and thought they looked familiar. Gaining confidence I popped by head around the corner one day to say 'Buongiorno' and he was kind enough to let me take a few photos of him at work. It was incredible to watch and document the process of just how much work goes into creating his beautiful art objects and the variety of creations he's made. Don't miss them when they go on show in London later this year. 


Monday, 22 May 2017

Libri Bianchi di Lorenzo Perrone

Have you been to the Harold Acton Library recently? If you have you may have noticed the eerie but beautiful work of Lorenzo Perrone hanging from the shelves. Libri Bianchi or Shakespeare in White is a free exhibition that transforms books into glorious art objects, stripping them of words with white paint, while recreating them and allowing them to speak in a whole new way. Taking inspiration from Shakespeare each book is inspired by a certain play or line that Perrone then interpreted onto the pages of the books themselves. However the large totem of books you can see in the final picture is the exception. It's made up of 100 books, each book commemorating a year in celebration of the Institute's centenary, an incredible feat! 

As the exhibition is in its final week be sure to catch it before it heads over to London. For more information see the British Institute website here

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Artigianato e Palazzo

Every year the Corsini Gardens open up on Via della Scala for a unique artisan craft fair. Artigianato e Palazzo is hosted in the 17th century gardens that remain almost perfectly preserved since their conception. A series of ornate hedgerows, potted lemon trees, rose bushes and verbs feels like the perfect place to hold such an array of exiting artistic talent. There's everything on offer from delicate flower-adorned soaps to hand-carved furniture and hand-woven baskets. Don't miss it! 

For more information visit their website here