Florence by Night (Landscape from Villa Bardini)

Florence (Italy). This is a postcard; an “easy” postcard. I know. And I’m not a big fan of this type of photos. But it’s also Florence, my city, captured from probably the best observatory in town; and I could not resist. This image has been taken from the terrace of Villa Bardini, a former private residence now used for exhibitions. From there, it seems possible touching the heart of the city; and by night, Florence becomes even more magic. As said: I could not resist.

Firenze. Questa foto è una cartolina; una “facile” cartolina. Lo so. E non sono un grande amante di questo genere di foto. Ma è anche Firenze, la mia città, fotografata da quello che probabilmente è il punto di osserazione migliore possibile; e non ho potuto resistere. Questa foto è stata scattata dalla terrazza di Villa Bardini, in precedenza una residenza privata, oggi utilizzata per ospitare delle mostre. Da là, è possibile toccare il cuore della città; e di notte, Firenze diventa ancora più magica. Come detto, non ho potuto resistere.

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Made in Italy (Fiat 500 at Piazzale Michelangelo)

Florence (Italy). The sentence “Made in Italy” is something very serious, which goes far beyond the simple “marketing announcement”. The Article 16 of the Italian Decree 135/2009 clearly defines what can be considered as authentic Made in Italy: this is the first comma, and it says: “Made in Italy is something which has been fully planned, designed, manufactured and wrapped up in Italy”.

This pretty generic definition is much more restrictive than the one made for German or American products. Made in Germany is based on all essential manufacturing steps, whereas Made in USA includes both all and “virtually” all the necessary steps (and the word “virtually” is pretty large) to produce something.

So, when some days ago I found myself in front of these two examples of Made in Italy – although so distant in terms of historical period for their “planning, design and manufacturing” – I found useful thinking about what is Made in Italy while capturing this photo.

Behind the skyline of Florence, as well as the old legendary Fiat 500, there’s the true and authentic Made in Italy approach. Brunelleschi, Giotto or Arnolfo Di Cambio for the Florentine skyline. Dante Giacosa, Pio Manzù and Giorgietto Giugiaro for the Fiat 500 car.

I think Italians should be more proud and more “protective” of the Made in Italy label; and they should also consider that Made in Italy is not limited only to today’s shoes, design or fashion in general. Made in Italy is part of our heritage, a piece of national DNA. And we all should be its first and most committed promoters…

Firenze. Il termine “Made in Italy” è un qualcosa di molto serio, che va oltre il semplice slogan di marketing. L’articolo 16 della legge 135/2009 al primo comma definisce chiaramente cosa può essere considerato come autentico Made in Italy: “Si intende realizzato interamente in Italia il prodotto o la merce, classificabile come made in Italy ai sensi della normativa vigente, e per il quale il disegno, la progettazione, la lavorazione ed il confezionamento sono compiuti esclusivamente sul territorio italiano“.

Questa definizione piuttosto generica è in realtà molto più restrittiva di quella utilizzata per i prodotti tedeschi o americani. L’etichetta di Made in Germany è basata su tutti i passaggi essenziali della produzione, mentre il Made in USA include i passi necessari (tutti e “virtualmente tutti”) per produrre qualcosa – e il termine “virtualmente” è abbastanza largo.

Per questo, quando alcuni giorni fa mi sono trovato davanti questi due esempi di Made in Italy – sebbene così distanti in termini di periodo storico per il loro “disegno, progettazione e realizzazione” – mentre scattavo questa foto ho ritenuto interessante pensare a cosa sia il Made in Italy.

Dietro la skyline di Firenze, così come dietro la leggendaria vecchia Fiat 500, c’è il vero e autentico approccio Made in Italy. Brunelleschi, Giotto o Arnolfo di Cambio per la skyline di Firenze. Dante Giacosa, Pio Manzù e Giorgetto Giugiaro per la Fiat 500.

Penso che gli Italiani dovrebbero essere più orgogliosi e più “protettivi” dell’etichetta Made in Italy; e dovrebbero inoltre considerare che il Made in Italy non si ferma solo alle scarpe, al design o in generale alla moda di oggi. Made in Italy è parte della nostra storia, un pezzo di DNA nazionale. E tutti noi dobbiamo essere i suoi primi e più convinti promotori…

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At Christmas Time, We Let in Light and Banish Shade (Florence, 2015)

Florence (Italy). I took this photo last Saturday, when I was walking around Florence enjoying the city where I was born. Exactly one year ago I took the same photo and I posted it with the same title! Perhaps, now that Photographing Around Me is going through its second year of life, I should consider carefully what I posted in the past to avoid the risk of being repetitive…

However, I have been feeling something for this photo since the moment I prepared its composition, trying to include the carousel, the tree and the illuminated building – all of them symbols of Christmas and typical of this period; and I even used it as a cover of my Facebook profile (by the way, feel free to follow me if you want, it’s open to everyone and I use it mainly to share my blog’s posts and some other photos).

Why this photo is so important to me?

Both when I was capturing it, as well as when I was editing and preparing it for the blog, some words came to my mind:

… It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid

At Christmas time, we let in light and banish shade

And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy …

I guess it won’t take too much time remembering the song’s lyrics these words are coming from (however, just in case…). And I found these words incredibly appropriate, considering the hard times we are going through and what’s happening in the world. So, I truly hope that this Christmas – not only for believers – will come into our lives spreading these exact words and teaching us how to smile. Again.

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Sunset in Florence

Florence (Italy). Meet the city where I was born… I’m sure you already know Florence, and I guess I won’t be the one that will open your eyes on one of the most beautiful cities on earth. However, I like when I can share with my followers unusual landscapes (with “unusual” I mean not the typical postcard you can find at the top of a search on Google). This is to say that Florence is not only Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Duomo and Uffizi Museum: if you go to Florence, try to dedicate more than few minutes to a walk around the city, enjoying the sunset along the river Arno or from one of the bridges crossing it, and refreshing yourself with the breeze which blows from the sea. This is my personal tip, let me know what you think about it.

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La Farmacia Di San Marco a Firenze (Walking Along Via Cavour in Florence)

Florence (Italy). I wonder how many Florentine (not to mention tourists) walking along Via Cavour before arriving to Piazza San Marco, have ever noticed this beautiful – and sadly abandoned – Pharmacy’s shop window. Yet, this is a piece of Florence history, although its conditions seem not supporting this fact.

I’m talking about the “Farmacia di San Marco” (translated in English – sorry – Saint Mark Pharmacy), which is twin with the more famous (and today pretty fashionable) “Officina Profumo Farmacia di Santa Maria NovellaI” (I will do my best to post a photo of this place’s interior soon); both of them were established by the order of the Dominican Monks, but the Farmacia di San Marco was founded by Father Antonino, a very important personality for Florentines, and who later became the city’s archbishop and – then – Saint. Initially, the Farmacia di San Marco operated only for the monastic complex (which was rebuilt by Cosimo de’ Medici in 1437) but in 1450 was open to everyone with the sale of “legendary” products such as the “Alchermes” (a liquor made with ethyl alcohol, sugar, water, cinnamon, cochineal, cloves, cardamom and rose water) and the “anti-hysterical” water, prepared with aromatic plants like balsamita, mint and cinnamon from Ceylon, and characterized by beneficial and refreshing properties.

In the years after, the range of products was extended with the introduction of liqueurs such as the “Stomatico” and the “Dominican“, as well as infusions, products based on elastin, and with the Scots Pine syrup; in the 1700 a new product made with rose water (with authentic roses from Bulgaria) and praised by Dominicans themselves as an anti-wrinkle product was launched and became very well-known.

The portal photographed here still shows the names of some of these abovementioned products, with the writings blacken by time and smog. The Farmacia is now closed, and the entire activity has been moved to the suburbs of Florence; but it would be nice if it could return to its ancient splendor, and with it this shop window in Via Cavour too – as it happened to the Officina Profumo-Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella.

Firenze. Mi domando quanti Fiorentini (per non parlare dei turisti) passando per via Cavour prima di arrivare in Piazza San Marco, abbiano mai notato questa bellissima – e purtroppo abbandonata – vetrina di farmacia. Eppure questo è un pezzo importante di storia di Firenze, anche se lo stato in cui versa non le rende giustizia e anzi, mi sembra decisamente irrispettoso.

Si tratta della Farmacia di San Marco, gemella della celebre (e anche un po’ mondana) Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella; entrambe infatti sono state istituite dall’ordine dei frati domenicani, ma la Farmacia di San Marco è stata fondata da frate Antonino, personaggio molto caro ai Fiorentini, che successivamente diventò vescovo di Firenze e infine Santo. Inizialmente la Farmacia di San Marco funzionava per il solo complesso monastico (ricostruito da Cosimo de’ Medici intorno al 1437) e nel 1450 fu aperta al pubblico con la vendita di prodotti “storici” tra cui l’alchermes (un liquore a base di alcol etilico, zucchero, acqua, cannella, cocciniglia, chiodi di garofano, cardamomo e acqua di rose) e l’acqua detta “antisterica” a base di piante aromatiche (balsamita, la menta e la cannella di Ceylon) e dalle proprietà benefiche e rinfrescanti.

Negli anni successivi la gamma di prodotti si allargò con l’elisir stomatico, il liquore domenicano, la tisana, l’elastina e lo sciroppo di pino silvestre, mentre nel 1700 fu presentato un prodotto a base di acqua di rose, fatta con rose di Bulgaria e di cui gli stessi Padri Domenicani citavano le capacità nel contrastare la formazione delle rughe.

Il portale rappresentato nella foto riporta ancora i nomi di alcuni di questi prodotti, con le scritte annerite dal tempo e dallo smog. La Farmacia è tristemente chiusa ed è stata trasferita in periferia, ma sarebbe bello che potesse tornare all’antico splendore – e con essa anche questa vetrina di Via Cavour – così come successo alla Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.

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