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FEB_MAR 2013



ELECTION TIME IN ITALY by Blending Staff & Lucia Giardino

The upcoming elections in Italy, scheduled for February 24 and 25, will determine the Italian Chamber of Deputies and Senate, and ultimately the Prime Minister of the country. The strongest three candidates, Pier Luigi Bersani, Silvio Berlusconi, and current Prime Minister, Mario Monti, are no new faces to Italian politics, however important novelties have developed around the current round of elections thanks to the evolution of technology. Social media election coverage by journalists and media experts, as well as a high increase in campaigning through digital media, have brought about a noteworthy change in the landscape of Italian politics. Here are just a few of the many sites and media tools to check out (In Italian): The first social media site dedicated to following Italian election candidates and campaigns in real time can be viewed at http://www.italia2013. me/. Italian readers may find all candidates’ Twitter accounts gathered at www.twitantonio. it/, while http://polismeter. it/ monitors web mentions of political candidates and parties.

Almost as a commentary to the contemporary Italian political culture in this critical moment of the upcoming elections, a new art exhibition based on politics will open on February 21 at the Galleria Biagiotti in Florence. La Mala Educatión, curated by Pietro Gaglianò, features young artists who were teenagers during the 1990s when Silvio Berlusconi was first elected as Prime Minister (1994). The concept of this exhibition is that these artists have developed a “bad” (mala), yet necessary “behavior” (educatión), in order to contrast the “bad behavior” inspired by the conformism of Berlusconi’s era.

tradition from Gramsci to Pasolini. I do not know if it will influence the elections, but I hope so. Do you think art plays a role in creating political consciousness? Of course it plays a role; it also creates meanings. Art is politcs, but it must be declared.

Blending asked Gaglianò a few questions before the opening of La Mala Educatión: What kind of relevance might this exhibition have in relationship to the upcoming elections? The exhibition poses questions on the moral education of a generation who grew up during the so called era of Berlusconism. Therefore, it proposes a critical point of view on this social culture, also considering the Italian historic political

GAETANO CUNSOLO, Una volta un tizio mi ha detto che si vedeva chi della mia generazione non aveva fatto il militare…, mixed media, cm 20x30, 2013. [Someone once told me that it was evident that my generation hadn’t been in the army.] Image courtesy of the exhibition La Mala Educatión.



2013 begins a new season of F_AIR’s residency program for international artists. The January through May period welcomes the NYC-born Eric Mistretta as the resident artist who will conclude his time at F_AIR with a solo exhibition. Mistretta has exhibited at numerous shows in the United States recently, including shows at the Allegra Laviola Gallery, The Shirey, and Family Business. When describing his practice, Mistretta said, it “is heavily focused on appropriating items that already exist and then introducing other foreign elements into the equation. In doing so, the connotation typically associated with the original object becomes confused or corrupted, and the juxtaposition of materials and previously existing implications forms a hybrid that operates in an altered realm of understanding.” F_AIR will also host a second international artist during the same period. Victoria DeBlassie is currently

in Italy as a Fullbright scholar and is conducting a part of her research at FUA. She is working on a project with the Polo Conciario in the Tuscan town of Santa Croce sull’Arno. The project is a study of works performed on vegetable leather with orange peels. Both artists will be involved in special art projects at F_AIR and will interact with FUA’s School of Fine Arts’ students and faculty members. Mistretta’s solo show opening is scheduled for April 30. DeBlassie will be holding a micro-exhibition from May 28 to June 14 at F_AIR. Prior to the May show, there will be an April 8 exhibition at FLY, the fashion store of FUA’s fashion and accessories school, FAST, featuring a special project created with FUA School of Fine Arts’ ceramics students. Further information on the artists please visit their websites: -



F_AIR and FUA School of Fine Arts are more than lucky to have a not only an authentic American living in residence this semester, but a true New Yorker. The New Yorker, even in the eyes of an American, is a blunt, innovative enthusiast who loves to shake the status quo and make their presence known in this world. This almost sums up Eric Mistretta. Eric was born in Queens, New York and recently graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2012. With his school days behind him, F_AIR’s artist in resident program seemed like the perfect opportunity for him transition into the life of an artist. His job while he is here is to teach a Mixed Media class at Florence University of the Arts. Within the classroom, his enthusiasm and 2

Eric Mistretta, Love Ain’t Never Die (YOLO), 2013, Acrylic and pastel on tapestry, 55” x 62”, First work produced at F_AIR.


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charismatic personality is contagious and inspiring to his students. Not only are his assignments in class enticing, but his works in progress within his studio are riveting as well. Eric has a set-up that is unusual to most artists’ living facilities; His apartment and studio are both within the FUA building. This combination of a home and a job in one space unquestionably blurs the line between working and living. Living within the proximity of his work almost forces him to constantly be creating due to the constant presence of his projects. Eric’s zest for art and his own personal persistent work ethic inspire his students without the physicality of verbalizing diligence. His constant encouragement of individuality gives his students a refreshing sense of

freedom within the classroom.On top of his already impressive schedule, Eric is preparing for a solo exhibition in the F_AIR Gallery opening on April 30th. He also finds time to collaborate with local artists and is in the process of exploring the possibility of doing projects with them. Needless to say, Eric Mistretta is a young, idealized professor and is a wonderful addition to the F_AIR-FUA team. Blending’s next issue will feature a special focus on F_AIR’s second resident, Victoria DeBlassie. Lucy Edick is a student from the University of Alabama and she is currently attending courses at FUA’s School of Fine Arts, including Mixed Media, taught by Artist in Residence Eric Mistretta.


On February 2013, Zoè Gruni unveiled a new video project in Florence, the capital of her home region of Tuscany, as a significant starting point for the video’s journey to Brazil. The video’s title La Merica refers to the experience of immigration and draws upon references from Maremma (southern Tuscany) from where many immigrants moved to Brazil (recipient of Italian immigration). The video displays a split screen featuring on one side images of a lush Brazilian jungle, and on the other side a mythical creature, resplendent and shimmering, marked by a pronounced beak and Zoè’s unmistakable eyes. The Florence presentation of the video marks the beginning of yet another Brazilian chapter for Zoè, who previously spent several months there, and will return for a residency program as well as to begin Brazilian exposure to La Merica and other projects. Zoè is no stranger to projects connecting distant lands: in 2011 her Jackalope project, in which FUA Travel Writing students were involved, was carried out long-distance between the artist in California and her American counterparts at F_AIR -

Zoè Gruni, Boitatà_2, 2013, charcoal on paper, 70x100cm. Courtesy of Zoè Gruni.

Florence Artist in Residence, where she would exhibit the project. We recently caught up with Zoè here in Italy and not only did she share her insights on the new video but she also revealed that Boitatà, a new Jackalope-esque figure deriving from local folklore, is in store for the streets of her new destination. Zoè, you have mentioned that the video expresses a more inner, personal phase of your art. How is this expressed in La Merica?

I became a nomad a few years ago and every day I fight against the sense of loss and discomfort of being an immigrant. When I left California and I arrived in Brazil, I thought that the best way to exorcise this personal yet universal fear might be a project on the theme of migration. I reflected upon the issues of immigration, identity and interaction between cultures. My work intends to mix cultural elements linked to the collective memory, local and global symbols 3


of the cultural identity. Starting from my personal experience as an immigrant, I would like to face the global condition and to reflect upon the universal fear of “the different.” The video La Merica , born in 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, is the first step of my upcoming project Nomad. Where are you holding your artist’s residency in Brazil and what does the project(s) entail? I will participate in the artist in residency program at FAAP University in San Paolo to develop my new project Nomad to convey my experiences to the students and professors at the Foundation.

From the archive of the Museum Paolo Cresci for the History of the Italian Emigration of Lucca in Italy, I’m recovering old stories, texts, songs, objects and images of Italian immigrants in the after war. I would like to create a similar research in San Paolo to realize a multimedia project with performance, video, photography, sculpture, drawings… Can you share any preview hints on Boitatà, the next figure to roam the local landscapes in Brazil similar to the Jackalope’s journeys in California? After a first phase of study on the social context of San Paolo I intend to build a relational project with a

similar structure to Urban Jackalope (California, U.S. 2010-2012) that can be viewed at http://www. I would like to involve in the project the people that I will meet in town, thus the development of the idea depends on the real encounter with them. The first phase of the project will be developed through a series of performances in the city streets and the new character will be called “Boitatà.”

To find out more about Zoè’s past and current work as well as upcoming projects, please visit


Alessandro Brighetti, Skizophrenia, 2012 resin, liquid iron, neodymium magnet, electrification mecchanism, 170 x 30 x 30 cm, (source: http://www.1fmediaproject. net/2012/05/24/roma-the-road-tocontemporary-art-2012/)

Andrea Salvatori, No Title (mountain box), 2013, ceramic, 70 x 80 x 80 cm (Courtesy of the artist)

The weekend prior to the semester, the two artists in residence at F_AIR, Victoria De Blassie and Eric Mistretta, and myself, Lucia Giardino, headed to Bologna to visit Artefiera and the collateral art events taking place in capital city of Emilia Romagna. It was a nice way to get to know each other and to familiarize with the contemporary art scene in Italy. Artefiera takes place every year, at the end of January. It is a large, must event for art addicts, though the 2013 edition was more low-key due to the general recession, which has visibly impacted the art world as well. This year, in fact, Artefiera occupied the ground floor, instead of two stories, only of the immense convention venue in piazza della Costituzione in Bologna. Therefore several art galleries preferred to stay home instead 4

of participating in the oldest Italian vanity fair. Yet we did not regret our trip, which gave us the chance to admire in person many classics (Eric and Victoria discovered the Italian movement Arte Povera, and of course the fame-inflated masters Burri and Fontana), plus a variety of brand new emerging artists such as Alessandro Brighetti (born 1978). A Bologna native, Brighetti likes to merge aesthetics with medical and pseudo-scientific research: his disquieting sculptures are mostly black human organs animated with fluid growth, generated by electromagnetic stimulation. Andrea Salvatori (born 1975) is not exactly among the “emerging artists,” since he is well established in Italy and has exhibited abroad as well thanks to his itinerant gallery THE POOL NYC. Yet we can still admire his


FEB_MAR 2013

work as humorous, gimmicky, and not at all boring. Salvatori brought a fresh air to the tiring strolls around the Artefiera booths. We are honored to announce that his work will soon show at the F_AIR gallery on February 26th. After the over-lit and steaming hot Artefiera pavilion, we explored the parallel art events in town. The most relevant was StartUp, a counter-fair and huge art exhibition including talks and performances that opened at 6.00 PM every day after Artefiera’s closing hours. The location? A former bus deposit, nearby the railway station. Other noteworthy events included the performance Il Giudizio delle Ladre by Luigi Presicce (watch out for him at the April 5th Arty Friday at F_AIR); the extremely touching and discrete solo show dedicated to Bas Jan Ader curated by Javier Hontoria at Villa delle Rose, this illuminating retrospective is an homage to the very inspiring Dutch conceptual artist who died in mysterious circumstances during a trip taken with

a small sailing boat. And last but not least, an exhibition of unconventional self-portraits at Casabianca, a very friendly space in the countryside just outside Bologna. The exhibition featured works by Alessandra Andrini, Luca Bertolo, Chiara Camoni, and Fabrizio Prevedello. This was by far the most relaxing event of the 3-day art marathon. We left behind our attitudes (a must when dealing with certain art circles) and we chilled out to regain our normality. The works at Casabianca were as sincere as the smiles of people who visited the opening: mostly “conceptual” self-portraits, yet extremely revealing of the artists’ being (for instance Chiara Camoni’s films of her dog, or the mix between strength, fragility, obsolescence, and balance of Fabrizio Prevedello’s sculpture). The Bologna weekend was full of inspiration for the Spring 2013 semester. Stay tuned for F_AIR’s upcoming Arty Fridays and exhibitions. Follow us at fair.

Fabrizio Prevedello, Self Portrait, 2013, concrete, iron, glass, cm 167x77x68, (Courtesy of Casabianca)



by Academic Project Coordinator Marika Pierguidi Spring Semester 2013 begins with a premise that will be remembered in the future for an incredibly unique project and collaboration that FUA specifically has been able to start through its hospitality school Apicius, with the collaboration of the prestigious and renown Capannelle Wine Resort. Situated in the heart of the Gaiole in Chianti hillside, surrounded by typically Tuscan vineyards and cypress trees, the Capannelle winery has become one of the most interesting producers on the Italian wine scene and market since 1975. The collaboration between Apicius and Capannelle will witness different elements and realities coming together. This semester, six Apicius classes (Special Event Management, Hospitality Marketing, Viticulture and Enology, Menu Development, Advanced Italian Restaurant Cooking, and Restaurant and Production

Desserts) will be directly involved in this interdisciplinary project. All of the students enrolled in these classes will be working on the project through the area that they study, in order to develop a large-scale event that will take place in a 3-day period: April, 19th-20th and 21st at the Capannelle property. During the on-site event dates, the Apicius 1 and 2-year Career Students will spend those 3 days at the wine resort and they will professionally run the entire property from the check-in to meal production and service.A list of prestigious guests have been invited to the 3 days. Together with the faculty commission, these VIPs will determine who to declare the winner of the project. The best student will be rewarded with an internship at a top restaurant. The theme of the project’s first edition is ‘Sustainability and Territory’ and we have high hopes for a successful outcome and many future editions to come. “Che vinca il migliore”, let the best man win! And keep on the lookout for future updates and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the project and its teams here on Blending! For more information on the participating wine resort, please visit 5



Cristina Palagi and partner Teresa Bagni, founders of Il Fiore di Zucca, work with local farmers within the region of Tuscany and surrounding areas to sell a wide variety of clean products not only for environmental and economical reasons, but because of her belief in food as a main source of fuel for a healthy body and happy life.

Photo of store front and owner Cristina Palagi, by Stephanie Naru

During my first weekend in Florence I completely let my senses indulge. Scoops of creamy gelato, hearty pasta dishes, and the toasty scent of espresso wafting around every corner clouded my thoughts while stunning art and architecture significantly widened my eyes. Part of this exploration included a scenic afternoon adventure up to Piazzale Michelangelo where I was looking forward to taking in some breathtaking views of the city. But just before ascending the staircase to this look-out point, I found a charming little shop nestled on this hill that

was too inviting to ignore. As soon as you step through the door of Il Fiore di Zucca a colorful wooden table covered of fresh vegetables and walls lined with rustic bags of pasta, flour and other grain products will catch your eye. But if you take a closer look, what sets this little establishment apart is it’s dedication to sustainability, supporting local farmers, and selling organic foods. Even in Florence, the capital city of Tuscany, where it’s relatively easy to find fresh and delicious food - finding products that were not mass produced is quite rare.


As you begin your time in the wonderful city of Firenze, you are probably in awe of all the food culture around you. The options can be overwhelming. While pizza, pasta, and gelato are all classic elements of Italian cuisine, I’m here to give you an inside scoop on the dishes known around Tuscany. These foods are a must try before you leave Florence. Here are five examples that will make your stay in Firenze even more enjoyable. 6

So if you’re on your way up to the Piazza or simply would like to try something new, I completely recommend you take a moment and visit Il Fiore di Zucca. Wondering what to try? Some of their most popular items include delicious goat cheese fresh from Chianti and fresh baked bread from the provence of Diacceto just outside of Florence. Other items include seasonal fruits and vegetables, baked goods including gluten free and vegan cookies, bulk items, wine, oil, canned items, fresh milk and a variety of cheeses, products for the home and body, and even artisan beers.

Il Fiore di Zucca is located at Via dell’Erta Canina 1r. Open Mon - Sat: 8:30AM - 7:30PM. Delivery available.

1. Tuscany is known for ribollita, which is a hearty porridge made with bread and vegetables. There are many variations but the main ingredients include leftover bread, cannellini beans, carrots, Tuscan black cabbage, onion, etc. Don’t be afraid to try things that may seem strange to you! 2. Pappa al pomodoro is a tomato and bread dish that’s a mix between a soup and porridge, similar to ribollita. It is best enjoyed on a cold rainy day. 3. It is almost impossible not to develop a sweet tooth while living in Firenze. Take a break from gelato and


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try schiacciata alla fiorentina, a Florentine sponge cake. It is sprinkled with icing sugar on top and can be filled with whipped cream, chocolate icing, chocolate cream, or any other sweet filing. Usually served during the Carnevale period. 4. Tuscany is known for its bread and olive oil. Make sure that you try a simple filone and extra virgin olive oil. While it’s a small snack, it will leave you satisfied and wanting more. 5. What’s a stay in Italy without pasta? Tuscany is

famous for tortelli alla mugellana, which are raviolilike parcels of pasta filled with potato stuffing. The potato can be flavored with cheese or a little meat and served with a hearty sauce. I hope that you will take advantage of the wonderful foods that Firenze has to offer. These are just five out of numerous food finds. Don’t be afraid to venture out and enjoy all the different but delicious foods that Italy has to offer! Plus, when you order traditional dishes you will be seen as more of a local. It’s a win win deal. Buon appetito!



One of the most exciting perks of living in Florence, as many students have already discovered, is traveling. The city is a major center of transportation, with many airlines offering cheap flights to cities all around Europe. While weekend trips to London, Barcelona and Munich are enticing for those of us who want to see the world while we’re here, we should not forget that Italy itself also has much to offer. Italy’s network of high-speed trains links every major city and town in the country, and often simplifies travel. Siena, Pisa, Lucca, and Arezzo are all less than a 2-hour trip from Florence, as is Rome in the neighboring region of Lazio, if you hop on a high-speed train! And unlike airports, many stations throughout Italy are within or located at walking distances of city centers. There are no baggage fees, no weight limits, and your luggage never leaves your sight. As an added bonus, you get to gaze at the beautiful Italian countryside while you speed along the track. Now that you know the advantages of traveling by train, here are a few

tips for experiencing Italy the fast and easy way: 1. Know if you’re traveling regionally or long-distance. Regional trips (i.e. Florence to Pisa or Siena, all within Tuscany) don’t require advance booking, though this is available. Long-distance trips, if you’re traveling to Rome or Venice, will often be cheaper if you book in advance, though tickets are often still available at the station for last-minute trips. 2. If you are traveling regionally or without a numbered seat reservation, you need to validate your ticket before you board, otherwise you could receive a hefty fine. If your ticket does not state a specific date and time of travel, insert it into a yellow validation machine at the station.

3. Trenitalia ( is usually the cheapest option for booking regional, long-distance, overnight, or international trains. Check the top of the page for the English site button, which is a

UK flag. However, remember to use Italian place names (Firenze, Roma, Venezia, etc.). 4. Buying a ticket at the station is easier than you might think. Major stations have self-service machines with English language options (again, look for the UK flag). These are easy to use and accept both cash and credit. 5. Some cities have multiple stations, so make sure you know which one you want before you book. While some stations are walking distance from city sights, others might require a taxi ride.

For further information on planning your train travel experience, check out: Buon Viaggio! Editor’s tip: The recently inaugurated Italo train network is offering high speed travel between major Italian cities at low booking prices. Tried it already? Let us know what you think! 7



Elba Island, Courtesy of the Ente Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano

Do you know the Tuscan Archipelago? Vacationers to Italy often seek out seaside destinations such as Capri in the south and Cinque Terre in the north, while much of the mid-Italian coast off of Tuscany remains ignored. FUA’s campus press Ingorda has often dedicated its publications to lesser-known, unique destinations such as Versilia and Maremma and this semester, Blending will collaborate with the Ente Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano, the public administration of the Tuscan islands. The archipelago is a national park and is situated towards southern Tuscany in the Mediterranean Sea. It is composed of the islands Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri, and Gorgona. For each issue of the newsletter and the semester’s-end magazine, we will be sharing an insider’s perspective from Dr. Aurora Ciardelli, the administration’s Director of Communications. The focus of this issue is Elba, the largest island of the archipelago and the third-largest in Italy. It is by far the most inhabited of the islands, with its approximately 30,000 residents and 8 recognized towns under the provincial jurisdiction of Livorno. A long-time summer retreat for Italians, Elba offers not only an extremely diverse coastline of promontories and bays, though the sea is the immediate attraction for most visitors. The inland areas are teeming with micro-climates and unique wildlife that should not be missed. In fact, as Dr. Ciardelli shares, “I highly encourage visits outside of the high peak periods of July and August. May and 8

June are more indicated to fully enjoy the natural trails and the macchia mediterranea,” referring to the “spots” of shrubland typically of the Mediterranean. Some additional tips when visiting: - Out of the many park trails, a few in particular offer stunning viewpoints of the other islands. From the highest peak, Monte Capanne, the entire archipelago can be viewed. Or along the mining trail, Montecristo seems like a stone’s throw away. - The Ente’s headquarters at the Enfola promontory are located in a former traditional tuna butchering facility, where the fish used to massacred prior to the administration’s takeover of the building. An important symbol of local history and the current mission to protect the archipelago’s natural species. - A special trail has been created to allow visitor access to the butterfly sanctuary at Monte Perone, a highaltitude point of the island. For lucky visitors, once a year in the second half of April, the rare and protected butterfly species Zerynthia polyxena appears for a very brief period. And finally, the yearly Walking Festival offers free, themed, and professionally guided itineraries throughout the Archipelago. 2013 dates: April 13 - May 5 and Oct 19 - Nov 3. See For more information on visiting please visit and stay tuned for upcoming coverage of the other islands!


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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT ON KELLY CRAIG I’ve saved this moment as my last Florentine experience and can’t believe in another hour it will all be over. As I climb to the top of the Duomo, the most incredible landmark I have been lucky to live less than a half mile from, I think of all the experiences I have had since touching down in Italy four months ago. I explored over thirty Italian cities and towns, eaten world-class meals and began to understand the life of the Florentine. I can’t believe how much time has passed since this trip. January 20, 2013 marked two years since leaving for Florence. On the same day in 2012, I left for California State University of Monterey Bay, a trip 3,000 miles from my

home school in New Jersey, and a Florentine inspired it all. While sipping cappuccino overlooking the Duomo, my Italian language partner and I discussed American students studying in Florence. “American students come all the way to Italy but have never seen the other side of their own country,” my language partner said. I saw the truth in this and decided to travel through the National Student Exchange, a program that over 100 colleges and universities throughout the United States, Canada, Guam, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico participate in. I studied in California for two semesters all because of a quick conversation with a Florentine. I have now graduated from college and have become an independent social media manager. I have landed my first account and hope to acquire more accounts to create

SPEAK UP! by Leah Jordan

As study abroad students, we have made the decision to come to Florence, subject ourselves to being outsiders, and, ultimately, immerse ourselves in the rich culture of the Florentines. A few weeks into our adventure now, most of us have shaken off that initial culture shock, and a few of us can even (occasionally) get around without using a map. There might be nothing we can do to change the fact that we physically appear to be foreigners, but the first step in blending starts with speaking Italian as much as possible. So what happens when you try to speak, but the Italians you converse with realize (rather quickly) that you’re a foreigner and choose to speak English instead? As a city that attracts millions of tourists each year, not including the countless study abroad and European Erasmus students, many of Florence’s permanent

my own social media marketing firm. The courses I have taken at FUA including social media and introduction to mass communication have given me a solid foundation to turning this dream into a reality. While the scene of sipping cappuccino beneath the Duomo will always be in my mind, I have come home with so much more than a romanticized idea of Italy. Florence University of the Arts was an important stepping-stone into my post-graduate life as I developed personally and professionally. Lucky for me, I am able to continue traveling, as my profession can be done anywhere Wi-Fi can reach, although it was hiking in California with my adventure sports class when a wise professor pointed out, “the greatest places in the world don’t have Wi-Fi,” and I was left with another piece of advice that I know will shape my future.

residents possess a considerable amount of English. Enough, at least. Enough to cut you off while you’re desperately trying to string words together to create an Italian sentence. Or phrase. Or just any relevant word to accompany the given situation. Yet consider that just like you want to learn Italian, they want to better their English. If a barista notices that you could help aid broken conversation, he/she will override your attempt with the familiar, international tongue: English. In this situation, many of us would breathe a sigh of relief and start speaking what we know with ease. Avoid this temptation to the best of your ability! It’s much easier to speak English, but you won’t improve by giving up. A few tips to consider: 1. When walking into a shop, try offering phrases like buongiorno or buonasera depending on the time of day. Every time you leave a store or restaurant, be sure to say grazie instead of “thank you.” It’s a small step, but you’ll be surprised at how second-nature it becomes. 9


2. After the store-keeper in that very shop tries to revert to English, keep speaking in Italian. Or keep trying, at least. 3. Study your Italian notes from class and try to use them in every-day situations. Sono uno studente, come ti chiami, di dove sei, che cosa significa and come si dice are all helpful phrases to commit to memory. 4. Find a relatively empty cafe, restaurant, shop, etc. in off-peak times and have a real conversation with whoever is working. In all likelihood, they may have a

few minutes to spare to help you speak. They’ll probably find it mildly entertaining (at your expense), but it wouldn’t be surprising if you found yourself with a coffee or two on the house (at theirs). You can keep your head in the books all day long, but it’s a proven fact that your language skills will improve most effectively by conversing directly with a native. 5. Ditch the headphones on the train/bus/plane ride to wherever. Observing the conversations of others as an independent third-party listener is definitely eavesdropping, but also a fun way to test yourself on how much you are able understand.



Virginia Lopez teaches Fine Arts courses at FUA. Here she is interviewed by two study abroad alumni, Jessica Havard and Morgan Lee.

Errare Humanum est

Is there a certain type of audience you are reaching out to when you are creating a piece of work? No, there’s no specific audience. I like to make my art appealing and approachable to all people. Everyone can find something they understand or relate to. We’ve noticed that many of your pieces are either depicting nature or using natural materials, is there a reason for this? I am very interested in incorporation nature into my art. I think nature, art, and the body are all connected. I have to feel something, which makes my brain start to 10

think, which then allows me to use my hands to create it. I like to use natural materials such as beeswax to depict natural pieces such as human hands. I think feeling and allowing your body to receive nature is a big part in the artistic process. You work with a variety of different materials. Do you begin a piece knowing exactly what materials to use or do you insert them as you go along? I often change my mind many times as I go along. I have an initial thought but idea for new materials come into my head that I think will be better ideas for the piece. I usually just

make the decisions as I go along and hope that it ends up well! Do you prefer working with pictures or video? Why? Video is a new concept I began working with however I have to say that I still prefer pictures and tangible art more. I decided to do a video piece on melting wax in an exhibit and wound up taking it out in the end. I didn’t have the hands on feel that I usually have when creating a piece of work and a lot of the elements were out of my control, which I didn’t like. I hope to try again with video sometime in the near future.


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What inspired you to conduct a group performance about being a reindeer for the day? What do you think the group got out of it? I worked with a theater group in Finland and came up with a pretty obscure idea in which we would pretend to be reindeer for a day. We had no maps and no idea where we were in Finland and we could only communicate using reindeer noises. We were on regular streets dressed in regular clothes however we could only eat reindeer food. It was a very interesting experience because we were communicating with a group however only thinking within our head. Whatever we were feeling or thinking was kept internally which made it a unique individual experience for each person What made you decide to use applied materials such as bees wax? Do you tend to do this in many of your pieces, is there a particular reason? Again this goes back to the theme of nature that appears in all my work. I like to be able to not only visualize my art but to feel it as well. I think that materials and thoughts and creation are all connected through nature, which is why I think it is very important to use natural materials in my work. I believe it is almost a sort of out of body thing in which I am able to view myself as an artist by using nature in my work.


As I sat in the first day of Public Relations, Communication and Marketing in the Publishing Industry listening Courtesy of Isabella Martini to Isabella Martini introduce herself, I couldn’t help but think of Julius Caesar’s observation that “experience is the teacher of all things.” Enlightening the class that we would soon become exposed to the strategic approaches to success in the publishing industry and in a professional setting at large, Isabella’s experience on the subjects as a former student, professor, and managing editor and literary agent were immediately evident. Before garnering her professional experience, Isabella

Embalajes#1 | Ephemeros as a globe

Do you feel that using different materials and ways of displaying them (canvas pictures, videos, etc.) let you grow as an artist? Explain. Yes and no. I envy artists who are so brilliant at one form of artwork that they can devote all their talent to that specific forte. I also however really enjoy being able to spread my creativity across all different realms of art. It has let me grow because I can try out new methods and discover new things that I am good at.

amassed a significant background as a student herself. She holds a BA in Foreign Languages and Literatures, an MA in Translation of Literary Texts, post-graduate knowledge of Translation of Post-colonial texts, and a PhD in English Literature from the University of Pisa. During the time she was still completing her MA and PhD, Isabella actually began working with the University as an editorial consultant and managing editor. Consequently, when reflecting back on her time not as a teacher but student, “trying to always be motivated, engaged, positive and curious in whatever you will do and not forgetting to network...” is the advice she feels strongest about leaving her students today. These earlier involvements combine with her current diverse professional backgrounds to create an enriching classroom experience for all of her students. In addition to working as an instructor at FUA, Isabella is a lecturer of English Translation at the Humanities Faculty of the University of Cagliari, a managing editor and literary agent with Thesis Contents (focused on textbook editorial management), a translator, acquisition and managing editor for Felici Editore, and a former English and French teacher in Italian second11


ary schools. It is this unique repertoire of experience that causes Isabella to not only teach to the topic of her courses, but to how to act respectfully and appropriately in a professional setting too. “Working in a domestic versus an international setting, I have to deal with different cultures and try to avoid clashes

and misunderstands,” remarked Isabella. In the future, Isabella hopes to continue teaching and doing research at the University level. However, regardless of where Isabella ends up, she hopes to continue to amass the experiences that make her such an invaluable teacher.

FACES & PLACES by Maggy Kilroy

FLORENCE, THE PLACE LOVED BY MANY After months of anticipation, I successfully made the journey as a naïve, suburbanite girl ready to immerse myself in the stile di vita all’italiana. Instead of a Kate Chopin-esque awakening, I think I may have fallen in love for the first time in my life. I suddenly have Courtesy of Maggy Kilroy


uncontrollable feelings toward a piece of land with some buildings. I am a googly eyed girl writing a love letter to the city of Florence. But my dear Firenze is admired by many, perhaps too many! The city has many admirers seduced through charm and unpredictability. As much as I would like to claim being the one and only love of this city, I know it belongs to a long line

of students, artists, philosophers, soldiers, patrons, and all my other predecessors who have walked the same steps I have. As these lovers come and go, I am left wondering who exactly the devoted husbands and wives of Florence are. Who shares their love with fleeting caresses of her streets? Who are the people who are truly married to this city?


FEB_MAR 2013

FACES OF THE VIAREGGIO CARNEVALE The enormous, colorful, and handcrafted floats created by the city of Viareggio’s artists have paraded down the Tuscan beach town’s streets since the 1800s. The parade has become an internationally renown event, at times it has been at the center of discussion for its dogged and “spare none” satire of Italian politicians. Maggy Kilroy offers two unique and contrasting images of the Carnevale celebration from public and private perspectives: a shot taken during a peak moment of the parade, another of a more intimate moment in which a family takes their masqueraded child for a stroll on the beach. Courtesy of Maggy Kilroy



Traveling while studying abroad is an important part of the experience, but spending time in Florence and exploring your new community is an underrated part of the experience as well. A great way to get to know your host city better is through direct contact with the community, and what better way to do this than through the Student Life activities? One of the upcoming opportunities to do this is through the Connecting Cultures Chat Pal program, which allows students to learn more about their host community through direct contact with a conversation exchange partner. Language partners are expected to meet for at least one hour, once a week, and to divide the time equally between Italian and the student’s mother tongue.

Conversation Exchange partners can meet at a time and place of their own convenience. This is a great way to make new friends in the community, to discover new ways to pass your time in Florence and to get off the beaten path of the typical study abroad experience. If you did Courtesy of SLD

not make it to the Chat Pal general meeting, please contact student services for further information and an application. The deadline to sign up for the Chat Pal program is Monday, February 25th. Still looking for ways to immerse yourself in the community and learn more about the history of Florence? Sign up for the upcoming Discover Italy visits! One upcoming opportunity to not miss out on is the visit to the Historic Palazzo Medici Riccardi on Friday, Feburary 22th. This amazing palace, well regarded as the prototype for Renaissance architecture, with an unexpected courtyard garden features Benozzo Gozzi’s fresco The Procession of the Magi. This palace also hosts temporary exhibits, such as the current Dalì 13


Universe Experience, an show dedicated entirely to the artist Salvatore Dalì. If after your time exploring the city you would like to experience life in the countryside, don’t miss out on the trip to the Chianti region on Sunday, March 3rd to Montefioralle and Greve. Learn more about the popular town of Greve and the beautiful bur-

row of Montefioralle, both in the Chianti Classico area, and meet the owners of the Montefioralle vineyard. Get a glimpse into life in the country and their residents. For further information on how to sign up for either of these Discover Italy activities, please consult the Student Life calendar or contact Student Services at

Courtesy of SLD

SLD STAFF PICKS by Nicoletta Richardson

We’ve briefly interviewed SLD staff members for their unique perspectives of Florence. In this issue they offer two diverse suggestions for exploring cafes. Jessica Volpe When asked where the best place is for a student to get away from the everyday city life of Florence, Italy, Volpe suggested seeking out a literary cafe. Describing these places to be an area where students can sit down and have a nice space to study, Volpe mentioned one place in particular called La Cite’ which is located on Borgo San Frediano, in the Oltrarno. A must-go-to café in order for students to get away from the touristy lifestyle! Olimpia Bozza Bozza expressed the need to go to a very fancy cafe at least once while you’re in Florence to get the atmospheric experience. If you sit at a table at one of these


expensive cafes, she said that there would be a charge of an outrageous sum for just a coffee. However, drinking the coffee standing at the bar drastically reduces this price. With a coffee and a small pastry, students soak in the atmosphere and get a short experience in the same elegant setting. For constant updates on festivals and events going on around Florence, Bozza suggests a very interesting website: Bozza said that when she herself has a day off, she always checks to see if something is going on. Divided by art, music, theater, and food, this website makes it easy for students to find something to do that is culturally enhancing on a day they have off.



Supplemento di / Supplement to Blending Magazine

Direttore Responsabile /

Reg. Trib. di Firenze n° 5844 del 29 luglio 2011

Editor in chief

Anno 3 – Numero 1 – mese 2012 /

Matteo Brogi

Year 3 - Issue 1 - Jan 2013 Caporedattore / Corso Tintori 21

Editorial Director

50121 Firenze

Grace Joh

Tel. 055-0332745 Coordinamento Editoriale / Sede editoriale /

Managing Editor

Editorial Headquarters

Federico Cagnucci

Corso Tintori 21 50121 Firenze

Redazione / Copy Editors

Tel. 055-0332745

Katelynn Rusnock

Stampato in proprio /

Progetto grafico e impaginazione /

Printed in house

Graphic design and layout Federico Cagnucci, Kai Ling Blending is a newsletter created with and for students of Florence University of the Arts, the academic member of Palazzi FAIE. The newsletter collaborates with the Student Life Department and Development Office. For information contact :

Blending nesletter feb mar spring 2013  
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