It was Christmas Day of 1832 when Bostonian clergyman Ralph Waldo Emerson, aged 29, set sail to Europe. He toured the continent, spending six months in Rome, Florence and Venice, before heading for Switzerland and Paris, where a visit to the Jardin des Plantes is said to have changed his life. From that moment on, he switched his focus from theology to the interconnectedness of nature and science. The time he stayed in Florence also left a lasting impression, of course. In his 1856 text, English Traits, Emerson briefly describes meeting the American sculptor Horatio Greenough and English writer Walter Savage Landor one May day in 1833 in the hills of Fiesole: “He praised the beautiful cyclamen which grows all about Florence; he admired Washington; talked of Wordsworth, Byron, Massinger, Beaumont and Fletcher.”
On seeing this month’s cover of The Florentine—a capture by licensed tour guide Elena Fulceri (www.florencewithflair.com) at an events space managed by www.rooftopevents.it—Emerson’s much-quoted line from his 1846 poem ‘Hamatreya’ sprung to mind, a commentary on the human-nature relationship: “Earth laughs in flowers…”
It’s with a similar carefree but considerate spirit that we bring you this month’s issue as life bustles again in Florence. Foreign voices have returned to our streets (mostly French, German and British, with the occasional American thanks to Covid-tested flights), museums and exhibitions are open (including the deep and meaningful American Art 1961-2001 show at Palazzo Strozzi and the impactful Simone Forti exhibition at Prato’s Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art), and restaurants are making the most of the free concession of public land to sit patrons riverside and in the most panoramic of places.
At the end of the month (June 28-July 2), Pitti Immagine will bring the fashion industry back to our piazzas for the first in-person trade fair in 2021. To mark the occasion, with the help of our friends over at Creative People in Florence, we reached out to Florence’s independent fashion designers and jewellery artisans, which culminated in The Florentine’s inaugural fashion shoot (see pages 14-15). Everyone involved had the loveliest of afternoons on location in the whimsical Serre Torrigiani gardens (now the Serre Bistrot for the summer). The experience ended up being my first ever modelling gig—believe me, it’s not as easy as it might seem!
June celebrates diversity as Pride Month takes centre stage at a time when civil liberties are being hotly debated across the country. Vincenzo D’Angelo explains the Zan bill and what the proposed law means for the LGBTQI+ community as Arcigay Firenze gears up to open its new headquarters in the Novoli area of Florence on June 4 (pages 6-7).
Editing a magazine is 50 per cent planning and 50 per cent “come what may”. This month’s serendipity has bestowed music on our pages: a behind-the-scenes look at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (pages 22-23); an interview with Siena-based Irish folk band, Willos’ (page 18); a preview of the prestigious Argiano Baroque Music Festival in Montalcino this summer (page 19); and a chat with North Africa-inspired group Fanfara Station (page 20).
If you’re craving a change of scene, we provide a few enticing suggestions that range from day trips on a Vespa (page 26) to a weekend break on Elba (pages 28-29) and sustainable experiences in Tuscany (page 12). There’s still a world out there worth discovering, of course, and Deirdre Pirro describes it to us through the sixteenth-century voyages of Antonio and Francesco Carletti (page 31), Florentine father and son merchants who sailed far-flung seas on business.