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Santa Maria Novella: a walk in the cloister

I took those pictures some days ago, in a bright morning. I just went out for a walk and decided to enter in the cloister of Santa Maria Novella. I've been there so many times and it's always a pleasure...
Is a little peaceful place, with beautiful arches and leafy tall trees, the perfect quiet corner to take a rest and relax.

From the cloister you can enter into the church of Santa Maria Novella paying a ticket (2 euro) or enter in a small chapel where you can pray without paying the ticket (but also without seeing the wonderful church from the inside!).

the external of the cloister, with a nice violin player

the access to the cloister is in the arch beside the facade of Santa Maria Novella


Garden of Horticulture, Florence (Giardino dell'Orticultura)

The garden of Horticulture of Florence first opened in 1862, and it was made by the Horticulture Society of Tuscany to spread the knowledge of plants and “love and taste for horticulture”.
In 1880 the garden hosted the First National Horticulture Expo: to celebrate the happening a big greenhouse was built, a wonderful building made of iron and glass, one of the first buildings of this kind. the architect Giacomo Roster planned this greenhouse, and today is best known as “tepidarium of Roster”.
In 1911 was built also a nice small lodge called “Loggetta Bondi” in neo-renaissance style.

In the last years a weird decoration was added to this garden: a big snake that is dragging on the steps of a stair, all made with pieces of stones, with his large mouth opened and showing his long sharp teeth… it’s quite odd and pretty ugly, seems an ungraceful version of Gaudì’s Salamander in Parc Guell!

The Garden of horticulture is a nice place for spending an afternoon in the sun, having a nap under a tree, taking a walk along the paths and playing a soccer match with friends (yes, we’re in Italy, every place is good to kick a ball!).

I’ve been there last Saturday with my friend Daniela and we shoot some pictures…

the greenhouse of the Garden of Horticulture, Florence

the Loggetta Bondi and some guys playing soccer

the snake drags down the steps in front of a nice view of Florence

the ugly snake... the write on the rock means "grandma is always right" :-D

the head of the ugly snake

the snake is biting me (on the left) and Daniela


Stibbert Museum and Stibbert Garden, Florence

Yesterday I went to Villa Stibbert to enjoy a walk in the park and to visit the museum... I didn't know how nice and interesting it was until my friend Daniela took me there! Thank you Dany :-)
The villa was once Stibbert's home, and has 57 rooms that exhibit all of Stibbert's collections from all around the world. Frederick Stibbert was a rich heir born in 1836 and grown in England, but lately moved to Florence. He had no need to work so he lived his life collecting objects and turned his house into a museum.

Paintings are displayed throughout every room, including still lifes and portraits. There is also collections of valuable furniture, porcelains, Tuscan crucifixes, Etruscan artifacts, and an outfit worn by Napoleon I.

Sure the most interesting exhibition is the Stibbert's Arms and Armour collection: more of 12.000 pieces of arms and armour from the 15th trough the 19th century, from all over the world: European, Oriental, Japanese, Arab pieces.

In the Cavalcade Room you can admire a large collection of medieval knights on horseback and foot-soldiers dressed with original armours and holding their weapons… that’s impressive! In the Samurai Room there are more than 80 armours and hundreds of swords.

Outside the museum, over the walls of the villa, there is a large collection of stone coats of arms from the most important nobile families from all over Europe.
The museum also contains a small cafe and a bookstore.

The garden of the villa is pretty interesting too, it’s a nice English garden full of strange things and historical quotes, as it was very popular and appreciated in the second half of 1800.
Walking around the park you can find a nice small temple in classical style, with a dome covered with coloured pieces of ceramic, some ponds, a lot of wild vegetation, an elegant “limonaia” (typical rural building used to recover citrus plants like lemons), and even an odd small neo-egyptian temple built on an island in the main pond, with sphinxes, pharaoh statues and a small obelisk.
The paths are curvy and quite wild, and are dotted with statues.
It’s a very curious garden, full of odd things that play with history, geography and cultural quotes, a perfect example of the 800esque ideas of Sublime and Beautiful, typical of Picturesque.
the classical small temple in Stibbert Garden, Florence.

a nice classical terrace in front of Stibbert villa
the limonaia of Stibbert Villa with a wonderful lemon tree in a pot

the weird neo-egyptian temple in the Stibbert Garden in Florence


The Vespa and Piaggio Museum (Pontedera)

This is a fantastic museum! It’s not so famous, but if you love Vespa, at least if you liked Vacanze Romane (the movie), you really have to see it, it also has free entrance!
I’ve been there some weeks ago and it really amazed me… I still have an old Piaggio moped called “Grillo” and I’m quite sentimental about it, and the Vespas are so cool!

The Vespa Museum is located in Pontedera, a small city between Florence and Pisa, where the historical Piaggio factory sis producing scooters and motorcycles since 1884.
The Piaggio Museum was inaugurated on the 29th March 2000, it occupies 3,000 sq. m. of what used to be the old company toolshop, a smart conversion of an industrial area for cultural purposes.

The Museum's halls display Vespa and Gilera collections, with the most significant of Piaggio's products.
The Vespas on display are the most beautiful and the rarest of their kind, such as the prestigious Vespa painted by Salvador Dalì or the record-breaking Vespas.
Beside the Vespa are the products that also made the history of the company, mopeds such as “Ciao” and “Sì” that marked an epoch and the multi-functional Ape, the small truck that artisans and retailers over the generations have used and appreciated for its versatility, and which had an important role in reconstructing Italy after the second world war.

I took hundreds of pictures, there are some incredible Vespas!
Here are some examples of the amazing Vespas of the Piaggio Museum that I portrayed:

Some classic Vespas, behind you can see a couple of Ape trucks

A very long Vespa!

This Vespa was painted and autographed by Salvador Dalì in 1962

This "Siluro Vespa" (that means rocket) in 1951 beated all standing kilometre records with a time of 21.4 seconds and an average speed of 171.1 km/h.

the special Vespa Alpha, designed for the movie "Get Smart"

A giant Vespa and a cow-Vespa

Vespa 150 T.A.P. a very special Vespa, produced between 1956 and 1959, used by the Foreign Legion and French paratroopers.

Florentine Tripe Recipe (Trippa alla Fiorentina)

This is one of my favourite traditional dishes of Florence, the Florentine tripe (Trippa alla Fiorentina). It’s incredibly tasty, made with “poor” ingredients and it's a big part of the Tuscany popular and ancient tradional cusine.

1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds tripe, blanched and boiled
1 pound canned peeled tomatoes.
Parmigiano cheese

Use only the best parts of the tripe, and cut it into very thin strips.
Clean, wash and chop the onion, carrot and celery and put into a metal pan with olive oil. Cook well, then add the tripe.
When tripe gets golden in colour, add the tomatoes, chopped very finely.
Add salt and pepper, then cook over a very low heat for about half an hour, until the sauce has reduced almost completely, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
The tripe may be served immediately when is still hot, sprinkled with some grated Parmigiano over.
Tripe is usually served with boiled or mashed potatoes or, if preferred, with cannellini beans and olive oil.

You can try this unique speciality in one of the several tripe stands (trippai) in the streets of the city.
Tripe stands are generally open from 8:30 or 9 a.m. to 6:30 or 7:30 p.m. some of them even on Saturdays.

Some addresses:
Mario Albergucci, Piazzale di Porta Romana.
Sergio Pollini, Via dei Macci (near Borgo La Croce).
Il Trippaio di Firenze, Via Maso Finiguerra.
Marco Bolognesi, Via Gioberti.
Trippaio, Via Dante Alighieri.
Nerbone (inside San Lorenzo Market, 011-39- 055-219-949).


Vintage Shopping in Florence

Here’s a list of the best vintage shops in Florence: here you can find clothing, jewellery, handbags, shoes and more, from the twenties to the eighties, and you can also find some incredible vintage masterpieces of the best Italian super-fashion griffes, as Gucci or Armani...
Don't forget to hang around piazza Ciompi flea market too!

Pitti Vintage – vintage clothing and accessories
Sdrucciolo dei Pitti 19/R
Florence, Italy
Phone: +(39) 055 230 2676

Beggar Len – vintage clothing
via R. Giuliani 106/R
Florence, Italy
Phone: + (39) 055 417 028
+(39) 335 543 0252

Anna – vintage jewellery (from twenties to eighties)
Borgo Allegri
50100 Firenze

Pennylane – vintage clothing and accessories (sixties and seventies)
Via Verdi 53/R
50100 Firenze
Phone: +(39) 055 248 0498

Officina Vintage – vintage clothing and accessories
Via del Giglio 41/R
50100 Florence (historical center)
Tel. +(39) 055 215 828

Via F. Botticini 20
50143 Florence (Legnaia zone)
Tel./Fax +(39) 055 719 1340

Nadine Shop – vintage griffes clothing and accessories (Pierre Cardin, Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Hermes, Gucci, Fendi, Ferragamo, Valentino, Pucci, Saint Laurent...)
Lungarno Acciaiuoli, 22/R
50123 Firenze
Tel.: (+39) 055 287 851
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