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Portrait of Andrea Salvatori before the opening of Uncanny Fairy Tales, 2013. [See article p. 5]

Photo by Anna Saint Ange


ARTOUR-O IL MUST AWARDS YOUNG ARTISTS by Kate Fisch This March, the city of Florence transformed into a stage for contemporary art. Artour-o, an organization dedicated to supporting modern art and design in Italy, opened their annual event Artour-o “Il Must” (Museo Temporaneo) on March 7 with an array of works from Italian artists. Artour-o is a creation of Tiziana Leopizzi, a very enterprising and visionary woman. From 1

photographers and painters to makers of jewelry and stained glass, established artists from all over Italy showed their pieces against the backdrop of the unique rooms of the Villa La Vedetta. The hallways and staircases of this distinguished hotel featured the central works of the night: the pieces presented by young and emerging Emilian artists all in competition for the GAT Award (Giovani Artisti di Talento)

and for the chance to show their work at F_AIR (Florence Artist in Residence) with the FUA School of Fine Arts. From the opening remarks given by the event organizers and members of Artour-o, the end goal of this four day event was clear: to display contemporary works in a city known for historical art, and to introduce and support the young talent that will create the future of the art of today. I had the opportunity to interview Artour-o’s newest intern, Deidre Corda, who is also the special events intern at FUA. Her role this


semester is an all-encompassing one, and includes “doing events for FUA at F_AIR for the art exhibits, setting up and working the events as well as presenting the artists, and explaining what FUA is, what F_AIR is, what Palazzi is,” she said. Corda was also able to shed some light on the importance of Artour-o as an organization focused primarily on contemporary art:

“it coincides really nicely with the mission of F_AIR in Florence – Florence is a city known mostly for Renaissance art. People come to Florence not looking for living artists.” One of the goals of Artour-o is to increase awareness of contemporary art trends in Italy, so that cities like Florence remain relevant not only for conservation, but also for creation.

I also asked Corda about her role with Artour-o in presenting the GAT Award to the winning artist, Sara Menegatti, who submitted three photographic wood light boxes. “It’s hard for anyone who’s young and new, and trying to do something, they have this GAT Award, and that’s so awesome, it’s inspiring young artists… because if you don’t have new ideas coming in, nothing is going to change, nothing is going to be interesting,” Corda said. While Menegatti’s exhibit at F_AIR will not be up until this Fall, you can stay updated with more events and publications from Artour-o on their website,

Journalism student Kate Fisch reported from the recent GAT awards for young Italian artists during Artour-o. The following article is Kate’s more detailed interview of Deidre Corda, the special events intern who was designated as the award presenter.


This interview was held immediately after the GAT award ceremony at Villa La Vedetta. KF: So you’ve been interning with Prof. Nora Takacs? DC: Yes, I started at the beginning of the semester.

Nora is the event coordinator of FUA. All of the events they do, she has at least a finger in, if not managing the whole thing. So I primarily work with her, doing events for FUA at F_AIR for the art exhibits, setting up and working the events as well as presenting the artists, and explaining what FUA is, what F_AIR is, what Palazzi is. I also do the smaller events like Aperitivo [at Ganzo], presenting books that the school has done, presenting artists, not necessarily artists only at FUA but whoever they have in connection with F_AIR. 2

KF: So you’re running around, doing different things. DC: Yes, sometimes I have to transport goods from one place to another, I did the Chocolate Fair, because Fedora was scheduled for some demonstrations and wine and chocolate tastings, so I was there and I helped set up, and I also introduced them. I help oversee the students that come and help, doing the set up, transport, flyers, advertise, etc. KF: So what has been your role with this event, Artour-o Il Must? DC: With this event, I’ve been in contact with the coordinator, and I’ve helped set up some of the art exhibits around the city, because they’ve put up different artworks. KF: Right, for the walking tour. DC: Exactly, the walking tour they’ve talked about. So

I helped with that yesterday, today I am presenting the award, tomorrow I’m coming with another student to help with children, it’s a sort of an art education event.


So pretty much, any way that I can help, I’m helping and getting experience with events in general.

KF: Right, that makes sense. DC: Because the city is so known for art, why not have

contemporary art? KF: So how would you explain this event and Artour-o,

the organization planning it, what their end goal is, what they’re trying to do? DC: Well, it coincides really nicely with what F_ AIR’s mission – Florence is a city known mostly for Renaissance art. People come to Florence not looking for contemporary artists, no, they’re thinking about older stuff. So F_AIR, as well as Artour-o, who sets up the art exhibits called “Must”, like temporary art exhibits, seek to incorporate contemporary art that’s now and it’s a nice contrast and a nice place to do it. Florence is known for older art, but Renaissance art was contemporary at the time of the Renaissance. I think this is their main goal, to offer these little bursts of contemporary art so people are thinking “current.”

KF: A lot of people have been talking tonight, especially in the opening remarks, about having younger artists and contemporary art. How has this event helped you think about the role of young artists in the art world? DC: I think it’s a really integral part, to use that word, [young], because if you don’t have new ideas coming in, nothing is going to change, nothing is going to be interesting. It’s hard for anyone who’s young and new and trying to do something, so it’s a good thing that there is this GAT Award, which is inspiring young artists. That’s what everyone’s trying to do, push the youth. We’re going to give you an art exhibit, and an art exhibit in a major city known for art is a perfect prize, you can’t really ask for anything more than that.


Every April, the British Institute of Florence holds a Shakespeare week, an event that collects thematic movies, plays, lectures, publications, and artistic works all inspired by a specific Shakespeare play. This year, the event theme’s inspiring play is “The Tempest.” The British Institute of Florence will collect submissions from students, writers, and artists throughout the city. This year, FAST Fashion Design students will hold an exhibition. The exhibit will focus on a contemporary exploration of “The Tempest,” taking special inspiration from the 2010 movie adaptation directed by Julia Taymor. The exhibition will focus on a fashion reinterpretation of the theme on an androgynous figure. FUA Publishing student Renee Puno created the title of the exhibition, “Virtue and Vengeance,” after closely reading the play. “I suggested ‘Virtue and Vengeance’ because this seemed to be one of the most powerful set of forces working in the narrative,” said Renee. “These polarities were 3

evidenced most in Prospero’s pivotal decision: to choose love or hate, to forgive or to seek revenge, to be a virtuous man or to be one who is consumed by vengeance.” The classes contributing to this exhibition are “Fashion Design Studio I,” instructed by Professor Enrica Guidato, and “Decoration and Embellishment in Haute Couture,” instructed by Professor Sabrina Fichi. An individual student from the “Apparel Design” class is also

contributing to the exhibition, working closely with Professor Sabrina Fichi. The Publishing Department, represented by the aforementioned Renee Puno, is also working on creating an effective journalistic piece that will connect the exhibition to the Shakespearean play. “All of our students are working hard on this project,” FAST Coordinator Gaia Poli said. “They all have a bright and special glow. It will be a gorgeous and adventurous journey!” Photo by Adelina Antal




Tucked away in a side street of Florence one may find remove the artist from the equation. Rotella’s piece Senza the Galleria il Ponte Firenze, a contemporary art gallery titolo created in 1953 displays the back of posters. In this featuring mainly artists of the 20th century. The space way, we observe the details and marks left by the old walls recently displayed work by the artists Mimmo Rotella of the city and pieces of posters that had been covered and and Raymond Hains in an exhibition that concluded forgotten. While the work is based upon Rotella’s intent on March 15. Pairing Hains and it reflects the character of the city Rotella is an interesting choice. rather than the artist. While both were associated with The show was organized in a way Nouveau Réalisme and were that forced comparisons between creating décollages incorporating the two artists. Pieces by Hains street advertisements and posters, and Rotella were mixed together, their techniques were born encouraging the viewer to observe separately of one another. Hains the similarities and differences arose from France’s environment between the two. One might while Rotella came from Italy’s. observe how Hains’ work has more Arguably, this is an excellent of a literary slant while Rotella’s example of work being a product is more painterly, or might notice Andrea Allibrandi explaining an early work of culture rather than individuals. by Mimmo Rotella. Photo by Melissa Huang the parallels between their use of Perhaps if Rotella and Hains had torn paper. Works of décollage were not come along other artists would have filled the gap placed near works of sculpture, leading to comparison left behind. This is not necessarily an argument the of the artists’ two dimensional and three dimensional two artists would have opposed. The 1950s through the stylistic choices. 1970s saw many artistic movements born from popular Overall, the exhibition was an interesting display of the culture. While British Pop artist Richard Hamilton work of Hains and Rotella, highlighting the nuances of wondered just what it was that made today’s homes so the décollage technique, and an enjoyable window into different, so appealing, and Andy Warhol screen printed the Nouveau Réalisme era. Marilyn upon Marilyn, Hains and Rotella were reacting – ROTELLA. ARTYPÒ, to their own unique popular cultures. Their work was HAINS DECOLLAGES, SAFFA formed from the print advertising and movie posters curated by Mauro Panzera 1, 2012 - March 15, 2013 found in the streets of Paris and Rome. While their December Galleria Il Ponte – via di Mezzo, 42/b Florence artwork still frequently showed the hand of the artist, the content was accessible to anyone living in those Melissa Huang is presently studying Painting and cities at the time. And in fact, certain pieces work to Contemporary Italian Art at Florence University of the Arts.


Victoria DeBlassie, artist in residence and Fulbright scholar, is excited to be teaching intermediate ceramics at the School of Fine Arts at Florence University of the Arts. From Albuquerque, NM, DeBlassie graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelors of 4

Fine Arts and a concentration in sculpture and ceramics in 2009. She then attended graduate school at the California College of the Arts for Sculpture and graduated in 2011. Being part Italian, this European country has always fascinated DeBlassie. Starting at 15, she began

to make work out of fruit peels, but her dream was to come to Italy to learn tanning techniques and apply them to the fruit peel textiles she transforms into sculptures and installations. Studying abroad in 2010 in Italy spiked Victoria’s interest in being a part of the Fulbright


program to have an opportunity to travel back to the country. She is now here, as a Fulbright scholar, to make new leather out of orange peels. With her acceptance into the program, she was presented with the chance to conduct part of her research at FUA by teaching and preparing a project, which will end up in a solo exhibition scheduled for May 28. DeBlassie’s wholehearted, enthusiastic, and passionate personality is contagious in the classroom and her students are eager to learn the content she has to offer. DeBlassie uses interactive assignments, such as attending different exhibitions, Arty Fridays, and interesting readings to give students hands-on experience and exposure to the art field. Apart from being an excellent instructor, DeBlassie does research at the Polo Tecnologico Conciario in Castelfranco di Sotto to learn how to apply tanning techniques to the orange peel textiles she makes. She also visits the Università di IUAV di Venezia to study art and curatorial studies with Cornelia Lauf. DeBlassie is also busy with making

Victoria DeBlassie, Collect. Skin. Dry. Stitch. Repeat, Solo Show at Make Hang Gallery, 2012.

work for upcoming shows, including an exhibit called “Taste,” which will be shown at Root Division in San Franciso in April. Another show of her work, called “Borders,” will be exhibited in Berlin at the Staycation Museum. DeBlassie is also preparing for a trip to Berlin, in late March, to present her Fulbright project at the Annual Berlin Fulbright Seminar. In her free time, DeBlassie collects orange peels from restaurants around Florence,

tans them, and stitches them together to make truly unique art. At the end of the semester, DeBlassie’s and her students’ collaborative art work will be featured in a show at FLY, the venue at the Fashion School of FUA, focusing on the relationship between ceramic forms, surface, and light. It is obvious that Victoria DeBlassie’s presence at FUA has already positively affected her students and the art community and will continue to do so.


Andrea Salvatori’s “Uncanny” exhibit, last step of a collaboration started with FUA ceramic students in 2011 and 2012, depicts both his impressive skill as a ceramist as well as his ability to think abstractly through his conjoining of existing, found pieces (i.e. antique ceramics) with precisely molded geometric shapes. If we were to consider the “units” that make up his works – the simple shapes, textures, and forms – there would be nothing particularly unique about these familiar dividends. However, it is the unique collaboration of ideas and forms that makes Salvatori’s body of work innovative, leaving the viewer with, at the very least, a feeling best defined as “uncanny.” Simply put, the works are confusing; thus, the artist has succeeded in capturing his intentions. The collection features works that bring together 5

concepts that are contradictory in nature: the fluidity of the human form is placed alongside sharp, linear geometrics; the figure of a dog is blanketed by a similarly rigid encasement of cubes; a symmetrical flower basket branches from a pointed mound of what appears to be flesh; a large cube bears the surface of the moon. After the short time that it takes to observe the works from the front to the end of the small space, all one can wonder is “Why?” On the surface, these works do not make sense. This is why the exhibit’s title, Uncanny Fairy Tales, is a crucial factor in the viewer’s understanding of the exhibit. The “Uncanny” concept of that which is known and unknown, strange and “uncomfortable,” can certainly be felt upon viewing these works. The added idea of “fairy tales,” however, suggests that


there’s more to the pieces than the simple role of a “normal” ceramic piece; there is a story, a “tale” to be told. Salvatori creates these narratives through his method of merging ideas. Plants, seemingly alive, emerge from solid white rocks, the “alive” emerges from the “dead.” A graceful ballerina is paired with a solid white, linear and pointed sculpture much larger in scale, thus dwarfing the figure, here the convoluted meets the rigid. The artist’s brilliance stems from his anticipation of the viewer’s unsettled reactions; when these works perturb his audience, he reflects the human mind’s tendency to outwardly project preconceived notions of what “makes sense” in the world around them, thus bringing forth the “uncanny” feeling that emerges once Andrea Salvatori, No Title, 2011 pottery and porcelain, 70x100x85 cm [Courtesy of the artist]

the external word does not coincide with the internal subconscious (or the idea of what is “rational”). With further consideration of such psychological undertones, it seems that Salvatori is channeling the fascinating (yet oftentimes unsettling) Freudian reflections on the workings of the subconscious mind. The exhibit as a whole is the tangible presentation of the uncanny: of objects seen before, twisted and re-configured, reminiscent of the curious workings of a dream. Furthermore, the emphasis of the solid geometric forms brings to mind the “perfect and unchanging” forms that the philosopher Plato once deemed the templates to a dimension beyond ours, the reproduction of which can and will only be attempted on this “earthly” level. The combination of these two “perfect” and familiar forms, brought together to an irrational end, brings forth the very essence of the artist’s intentions. The fact that the artist can allude to such a myriad of concepts with just a few works is impressive. Andrea Salvatori’s abilities as an artist are certainly far-reaching and praiseworthy. UNCANNY FAIRY TALES. ANDREA SALVATORI curated by Elena Magini Feb. 26 - April 5, 2013 F_AIR - Florence Artist in Residence Via San Gallo 45/r, 50129, Florence +39 055 0332950

For info write to or visit Alexis Hannah is presently attending Contemporary Italian Art and Advanced Drawing at FUA.



Special Event Management Student, Melanie Wilson, reports on the progress of the Capannelle wine resort project and tunes in with involved students for their perspectives on the upcoming event.

by Melanie Wilson

A new opportunity for students of Apicius has emerged this spring semester. The career students from hospitality management, culinary studies, wine and viticulture studies, and pastry will be collaborating to host a weekend at a vineyard for journalists, city representatives, as well as special guests invited by Ca6

pannelle. Apicius is teaming up with Capannelle, a vineyard in the Chianti, Tuscan region to build a weekend of hands on experience for these 19 students. The project is now entitled “Tuttotoscana: Sustainable Chianti” and is the spring event version of the FUA-Apicius fall events in New York City. The title means “all things

Tuscan” and focuses on the theme of sustainability and why it is an important part of running the Capannelle vineyards. Students are eager to participate in Tuttotoscana because it enables them to use their skills in a professional setting. This type of study is only valuable, and the learning only


beneficial, if it is also put into practice. “As a wine career student I am very excited about this opportunity and have great expectations for this project. The possibility to work directly with a very successful and high-end winery/resort offers layers of experience to us as students. There is a much deeper learning that takes place when given the chance to be hands-on, experiencing a sense of taking part in the real industry, even for a short weekend,” says Katie Brantley, a wine career student. Because this project is the first of its kind, some students are also anticipating the impact of their work on future collaborations between Apicius and facilities like Capannelle. Hospitality student Grant Isaacson states that he understands that the success of Tuttotoscana will affect the school’s future integrity in this area. Grant shares, “Already in preparation for the event I am better understanding the value of clear communication between par-

ties when organizing an event such as this… [Tuttotoscana will] be a learning process as we further cultivate relations with Capannelle and create such a program that can be continued for future students in forthcoming semesters to also partake in.” Behind the scenes, six Apicius classes are taking part in the different aspects of Tuttotoscana. Before the career students can take their places to serve guests in April, many students will put effort into this collaboration. Specifically in the Special Events Management course, students are working to make invitations, agendas for guests, and budgets. Gracie Robbins says, “through this class, I have the opportunity to work on a project that I can see develop and be carried out thoroughly. This will help me really understand successful event execution with varying strategies to overcome the obstacles that may crop up during the planning process.”


Once upon a time, recipe sharing involved passing along hand-written notes scribbled on index cards, napkins, and scrap paper between friends and family. Today, those same kitchen secrets are shared throughout the world through the art of food blogging. On February 28, FUA had the privilege of welcoming 15 prominent Italian female food bloggers on campus for a themed dessert tasting based on FUA President Gabriella Ganugi’s recently published memoir, La Bambina Che Contava Le Formiche. Each of these women may have a unique blog that expresses a personal relationship with food, but they all have one thing in common. Their passion is rooted deep in family tradition and the desire to gather people together to share the experience, excitement, and adventure often found in the kitchen. One of the visiting bloggers, Laura Adani, discussed cooking with her four children as the main motivation for starting her blog “Io Così Come 7

Photo by Stephanie Naru

Sono.” Through her blog, it is possible for Laura to chronicle these precious moments in the kitchen and meet like-minded people who share similar interests. Like any form of art, blogging is a craft that requires practice and skill. One of the most important components to any food blog is the photography that brings the story to life for the reader. When Simona Cherubini started her blog “Simona’s Kitchen,” she thought she would be able to easily use her 20 years of experience in the field of communications to visually express her ideas. It didn’t take long for her to realize that it’s not as easy as it may seem. Her advice to future bloggers?

“Time and patience.” If you’re looking to start sharing your own food stories, sites like Wordpress, Blogger, and Tumblr (just to name a few) make it easy for anyone to enter the blogosphere. Searching for inspiration? The ladies who attended FUA’s event suggest for those who speak English to check out blogs such as “What Katie Ate,” “Tartelette,” and “Alessandra Zecchini.” Additional photos and information on the event, including a full list of the participating bloggers, can be found in the “Food Blogging Event Coverage” photo album on the “J School FUA” Facebook page.


VEGGIN’ OUT IN FLORENCE by Alexandra Stelzer

Luckily, the city of Florence offers a good variety of cuisines. In particular, I have found one little restaurant that offers an assortment of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Hidden within the street of via dei Vagellai, BRAC is self-described as a “library of contemporary art and cooking,” and that they are. The food is excellent, and the employees are welcoming, to say the least. Whether you go there for brunch or dinner, the food is unique and

savory. If BRAC sounds appealing to you, then call ahead for reservations at +39 055 0944877 or email them at Visit their website at Editor’s Tip: Curious about other food joints for specialized diets? Try Un Punto Macrobiotico for macrobiotic cuisine, located in Piazza Tasso 3r, or kosher vegetarian cuisine at Ruth’s in via Farini 2a.



Continuing with this semester’s archipelago series, the current issue of Blending features the islands of Capraia, Pianosa e Gorgona. The common thread between them lies in the fact that they are or have been prison locations and represent a contrast between confinement, desperation, solitude, and a stark, uncontaminated, natural beauty. The islands are like floating rescue rafts where migrating birds can stop and rest, while marine mammals stop here as well during their transit (the area in fact is a cetacean sanctuary). They are a mix of beauty, silence, magic, and mystery. They are sought out by tourists not only for the peaceful environment and cuisine but also for their mix of nature, history, culture, and traditions. Though they may seem to be “tied down” by many rules regarding their preservation, it is thanks to this protection that the islands’ beauty remains intact. 8

For visiting information please see Capraia can be visited throughout the year. Pianosa can receive a maximum of 250 visitors daily. Gorgona visits are currently on hold until further notice. Capraia has been inhabited since the third millennium BC and its settlers include the Phoenicians, Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans. It hosted a community of monks who fled from the edict of Milan in 313 AC. Pirate invasions have led the Romans, the Repubblica di Pisa, and the Genovese Banco di San Giorgio to fortify the island’s territory. The San Giorgio fort is visible to this day, and is a testimony to a fascinating part of the island’s history involving Saracen pirates, wars, territorial disputes. Capraia has changed hands many times, and has been annexed to Corsica, the Repubblica di Genova, France, and even England over the course of seven centuries until the fall of Napoleon. The Vienna Congress assigned the island to Sardinian kingdom, and during this period the

famous Manifattura Tabacchi ceded its place to the Italian kingdom who instituted a penal colony that was also used for detainment during fascism. The two world wars were no less adventurous for Capraia, who was fully involved. The penal colony was abolished with a ministerial decree in 1986 and Capraia finally entered Tuscan territory in 1989. The island was created from two volcanic eruptions about 9 million Capraia Island


Photo courtesy of Ente Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano

Pianosa Island

years ago. A result is Cala Rossa, a stunning red wall emerging from the water on top of which rests the Zenobito Tower. Capraia is a paradise for yachts and both hiking and diving aficionados for its rich and wild landscape of inlets and cliffs framed by crystal-clear waters. The island’s colors are seen in its clefts and even in varieties of fish, which are often visible from the surface. Inland trails lead to breathtaking views; on clear days the neighboring Corsica seems to be just a stone’s throw away. The April-November season offers cultural and gastronomic events, for info visit www.isoladicapraia. com/it/eventi.html. Pianosa’s name, “Planasia” during the Roman Empire, is indicative of its flat landscape whose highest altitude is a mere 29 meters. The island seems to emerge from the sea like a sandbank, and is composed of sedimentary rock and limestone 9

containing marine fossils. Its history indicates from the beginning a place for deportation, including the heir to Emperor August, Agrippa Postumo, who was detained for 14 years before being executed. Ancient structures that exist to this day are the ruins of a Roman villa, whose name is attributed to Agrippa, and a catacomb system dug underground on two levels. The centuries following the Roman period were marked by repeated cycles of inhabitation and abandonment. The Grand Duke of Tuscany instituted an agricultural penal colony where prisoners worked by farming, and Pianosa consequently was known as the “devil’s island” for its harsh conditions. 1932 witnessed the political imprisonment of the President della Repubblica, Sandro Pertini. The 1980s hosted guilty Mafia members in high security confinement until 1998, when the prison was closed. A member of the Tuscan archipelago since

1997, Pianosa now forbids fishing and sailing within a mile radius of its coast. Its homes are empty and abandoned, its atmosphere mysterious and submerged in silence. Current inhabitants include penitentiary police and a few detainees with semi-liberty throughout the year, while the tourist season allows for a closed number of visitors on one authorized beach only. 2013 is the first year that scuba diving will be allowed. A unique cooperative offers the island’s sole hospitality structure for accommodation, operated by detainees in semi-liberty as a program for social reintegration. Gorgona is the smallest island, measures 2 square kilometers, reaches 225 meters in altitude, and has 300 inhabitants (for the most part detainees of the penitentiary structure). The landscape is a thriving Mediterranean shrub land, and was inhabited most likely by


the Etruscans and without a doubt by the Romans in ancient times. In the medieval era, a lasting Roman construction was inhabited by monks, and the Benedictines and Cistercians subsequently opened their monasteries. King Desiderio transported from Gorgona to Brescia the body of San Giulia who had died as a martyr three centuries prior in Corsica. The Repubblica di Pisa constructed the Torre Vecchia tower in 1283, which was further fortified and occupied by the Medici family in 1406. The Carthusian monks took over the tower until 1777 when

the Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo sought to repopulate the island without success. In 1869, the island was transformed into an agricultural penal colony. The prison is active to this day and practices bio-filtration and renewable energy, as well as organic agricultural approaches in its social reintegration program for inmates. Hiking is open to a very limited number of trails, and the best options touch the more suggestive points of the coast including Cala Scirocco and Cala Martina, where the shrub land offers shelter to wild rabbits, seagulls, sea

swallows, and migrating birds. A distinguishing feature of Gorgona is that 90% of the landscape is covered by vegetation and hosts over 400 fauna species. The crystalline clarity of the surrounding waters is astounding and the proliferation of marine species is abundant thanks to the scarce historic contact with human contamination and the prohibition of boats within its vicinity. Gorgona is resplendent with green, dotted with pine trees that create a beautiful contrast with the sea’s blue, and is a bittersweet, evocative landscape.


When I first got my housing assignment in Florence, I was a little worried when I found out I lived on what people call “the other side of the river.” I expected to live right next to the Duomo or maybe near the Uffizi, places where previous friends of mine lived when they studied here. To be honest, I didn’t know how much Florence existed on the south side of the Arno River. I’ve been living in Florence for half a semester now, and surprisingly, I could not be happier that I live on “the other side.” It is sometimes hard to get to class on time when I have to shuffle through tour groups on the Ponte Vecchio or near the Duomo. Though every part of Florence has its beauty, it can sometimes be hard to enjoy them when surrounded by hundreds of tourists (and apparently it isn’t even tourist season yet, yikes). I’ve learned to love crossing the river, reaching my side and instantly feeling

a bit more at ease. Things are quieter over here and, in my opinion, a bit more Italian. Because I live on this side, I’ve had plenty of time to explore my surroundings. I live close to Piazza Santo Spirito, a cute little square filled with small restaurants and bars. The best part? The area is packed with locals, not to mention the food is out of this world. You won’t find Americanized bars over there. Santo Spirito is just one of many hidden treasures on my side of the river, and I look forward to finding even more. Truthfully, every student studying abroad in Florence is fortunate enough to be here no matter what side he or she lives on. I just think it’s important for students to break away from the usual restaurants and bars and venture somewhere a bit out of your comfort zone where you might actually have to speak a little Italian.



Most places celebrate the New Year on January 1st. The people of Florence cherish tradition and celebrate the city’s new year with the arrival of the spring season, in addition to the dead of winter. An “alternative” 10

Florentine New Year’s Day is celebrated annually on March 25. The reason behind this date is that March 25, the Feast Day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, marked the beginning of Florence’s civil calendar from the Middle Ages to the mid 1700s. The city embraces the ancient tradition and hosts a procession from the Palagio to the Santissima Annunziata church (whose first building stone was laid in fact on the same day) every year to celebrate. Natives adorn themselves with traditional Florentine costumes and enjoy the daylong festivities. During the procession, music fills


the air and people in medieval costume dance through the streets until they arrive at Santissima Annunziata and pay homage to Mary. While in Florence, it is imperative to see Florentines celebrate this holiday. Even though January 2013’s festivities have just passed, why not celebrate the New Year again?

As your time passes in Florence and your departure approaches, you begin to look at the places where you have gone and the things you’ve seen. You keep adding to your to do list faster than you can check things off. February came and gone and April is right around the corner. With traveling on the weekends, making time for all the things you want to see in Florence seems impossible. Before panicking becomes your only option, here are just a few tips to ease your stress and make the most of your time here in Florence. 1) Put Everything in a Calendar: Rather than writing down all the things you want to do in a list, put them in an agenda or on the calendar in your phone. This way instead of worrying about time management,

Editor’s Tip: March 2013 features another important religious ritual. A rigorously Florentine interpretation of Easter festivities is the “scoppio del carro” or “explosion of the cart” scheduled this year for Sunday, March 31. Held at the Duomo, it involves a mechanical dove that races along a wire from inside the cathedral to ignite the cart outside.


it will all be laid out day by day. The simplest task, such as “Wednesday: climb to the top of the Duomo,” will alleviate your anxiety. 2) Consider Eliminating Your Most Expensive Trip: While traveling seems essential when you’re in Europe, sometimes students spend all their time away and don’t get to experience everything in Florence. By eliminating one of your pricier trips, you are able to free up some of your time and money to spend at the markets or a delicious trattoria. 3) Keep a Journal: While this might not seem all that important in time management, keeping a

journal can be really helpful. If you write down everything you did each day it helps you to remember how much you have actually done and seen. When the final weeks of your trip near and anxiety begins to creep up because there is still so much you want to do, you can re-read your journal to help remind you of how active you were. It recaps all of the experiences you did have and will hopefully make you worry less. Hopefully these tips will be helpful while planning the rest of your time in Italy. It is inevitable that you will not be able to see everything so make the most of what you do see and have fun!


This month’s Faculty Focus section zooms in on FUA’s International School of Business. Paolo Fiorini shares his digital expertise and Costa Yiannakis recounts his involvement in a sustainable project for an African community.


Understanding how to succeed in the era known as “2.0” is increasingly important for students on the verge of entering the working world. While present generations may have knowledge about certain technologies such as Facebook, professor Paolo Fiorini feels that there is a greater need for “awareness of the web’s power and 11

potential for changing the way companies are relating with clients.” Paolo graduated from the Università di Firenze with a major in international marketing. Currently, Paolo is a marketing consultant and the creator of FormaSemplice, a new company dedicated to practical and technical courses. His clients include furniture, lighting, and engineering companies as well as nurseries and other service providers. Regardless of the clients’ sector, he always begins with a thorough web analysis to define an appropriate online strategy for each company. “We realize classic communication


instruments,” remarked Paolo, “but we are specialized in web and social marketing where we do everything from designing the website to implementing social media campaigns.” Through his web-marketing focused courses, Paolo aims to make clear that in the same way companies utilize the web to increase success, students have the same opportunities. He specifically notes that LinkedIn is key when initially starting the job search;

“everything on the web is permanent,” warns Paolo, “so act and behave on these sites as if companies will search you before calling for a selection.” Joining groups related to your interests, entering into industry related discussions on blogs and searching for articles from experts in your desired field are the three pieces of advice Paolo urges students to walk away with. There is an ocean of information out there, but learning how to manage the web is the key to navigating it for success.


International marketing professor Costa Yiannakis is involved in a charitable project called “Masuku Tree of Life” that is making a real difference in Malawi, Southern Africa. Founded in 2009, the project is a family legacy with the goal producing a model selfsufficient community over fifty years (2009-2059). The project works with schools and communities around the world to develop proactive solutions for the

Photo courtesy of Prof. C. Yanniakis

Masuku village in Malawi. The specific focus zooms in on issues related to education for all ages, income generation for self-sufficiency, spiritual wellbeing for all denominations, and the environment such as water, reforestation, good agricultural practices (GAP), and alternative energy sources. With the current project initiative, Prof. Yiannakis, his brother Nick Yiannakis, and their friend Leo Taylor are raising awareness and funds to go towards the water project which aims to get running water into the local school, teachers’ housing, and the local community members. They are taking part in two events in 2013: 12

Running the “100km del Passatore” (60 miles) race this May from Florence to Faenza. They leave Florence at 3pm on May 25 and have until 11am on the May 26 to finish! Elbaman Ironman on the September 29. This involves a 3.8km (2.4 mile) swim followed by a 180km (111 mile) road race (via bicycle) and finishes off with a marathon 42km (26.2 miles). How can you get involved? Make a Donation. 100% of the donations arrive to intended users and causes. The only salaries paid are to the local project manager and local employees who are from the Masuku community. Their jobs have been created directly as a result of the project. Volunteer. The unique experience allows you to see what Africa is really like. Not from the point of view of an NGO or a Voluntourist, but from a family that has lived in Malawi for generations and really knows what is going on deep inside the local culture and our community. Whether it is teaching at the local school, traveling back in time to the National Game Park where you can see how the world really looked thousands of years ago, setting up environmental projects for community members, or empowering adults to use computers and build up the courage to set up the first IT school in the area, you can be part of a real grassroots nonprofit that is changing the way non-profits make a difference in our world. The team is flexible and knows how to make your experience in our beautiful country an unforgettable one too - Malawi is famous for being known as the “warm heart of Africa” due to the genuine friendliness of the nation. For information contact Costa Yiannakis at or send a “contact me form” at


FACES & PLACES Photos and texts by Maggy Kilroy

STAIRWAYS AND DOORWAYS To say I have an obsession with Italian architecture would be an understatement. Maybe it is due to my high school Latin teacher spending several weeks purely on aqueducts, or trying to convince my parents to build a miniature pantheon of their colonial suburban home, but I have always had a fascination with Romanesque design. Although the Duomo is close to a natural wonder, what has truly piqued my interest is the integration between ancient architecture and modern living. Every day, Italians View from the ground floor, where I live.

and foreigners walk under Gothic arches at Piazza della Signoria or the marble of San Miniato but where are they coming from? My own apartment is reminiscent of the history pulsating through the city. Assimilation between modern living and historical buildings is such a vital part of Florentine life. The doorways are cut out of rugged concrete but the chairs were bought from an Ikea advertisement. Life in Florence is so intertwined with ancient architecture that is a norm. It would be rather eccentric to have a frescoed ceiling in one’s living room in my hometown but here I am writing under the eyes of Mercury.

Peering down from the fifth floor, a whole new perspective.

‘CAUSE YOU KNOW I’D WALK A THOUSAND MILES FOR MICHELANGELO Piazzale Michelangelo. I am always blown away by the view no matter how many times I come up here. Not only are the historical buildings of the center at my feet, but I see the hills hugging the city and a new, illuminated world above the dark streets to and from class. There is an intimate aura about this square. It is a separate entity of Florence and yet holds every building and streets in its grasp. I have been here during different times of day and in different weather conditions. All are 13

stunning. In the early morning fog, the city seems so quiet and the piazzale does not host the normal hordes of tourists and vendors. In the bright afternoon, I watch firsttimers gasp at the panorama and Instagrammers attempt to take selfies with as much of Florence as they can fit in a frame. Even in the rain, everything seems so bright and green—a rare thing in a city of concrete and stone. During the evening, the piazzale slows down again as a replica of Michelangelo’s David beams. The lights of the city

glisten on the Arno’s surface and play games with the slight ripples of water. This is one place where I never forget to soak up the magic of the city. So often I am hurrying to class or to meet up with friends and forget that I am living in Florence, Italy. This ancient city full of architectural wonders and artwork by the greats is my home. I should be blown away every single day. Piazzale Michelangelo always evokes this reaction. [continue reading on the back cover]



SLD ON SPRING FASHION by Nicoletta Richardson

During the time that students have while in Florence, there is the question of how to fit in with the Italian image. Need to know where the Italians shop? Nicoletta Richardson interviews SLD’s Olimpia Bozza for advice on spring shopping in Florence. NR: Many students are tired of shopping at chain stores such as H&M, Zara and Coin. Where do Italians shop? OB: Italians like to wear international brands, not necessarily Italian ones, and I don’t know of any fellow citizen below the age of 30 who does not have at least 1 Zara item in their closet. In any case, if you are looking for less “mainstream” clothing, you can visit Via Gioberti, just beyond Piazza Beccaria, which offers a lot of smaller boutiques. Also, you can visit the SLD office for a list of outlets in the Florence area. The only distinguishing feature of Italian clothes is that they NEVER go on sale before July. Unfortunately…

show off your mini-dresses and caftans, and leave your t-shirt on the hanger. 3. Flip-flops might give you away, especially if made of rubber. 4. Europeans wear a lot of muted colors: taupe, gray, black, beige, navy blue, cream. 5. Shorts for both men and women are not very common in Italy, especially in the city. Younger generations are starting to venture out in them, though! 6. Wet hair – don’t skip the hair dryer before taking a walk. People will know that you are clean…and not a local. 7. Sportswear – we can be snobbish about it, and we would go jogging in a suit or gown if we could.White shoes, baseball hats and tracksuits are worn almost exclusively during sport sessions.


by Thomas Brownlees

NR: What is the Italian fashion for spring that students should be aware of in terms of purchasing clothes for the upcoming season? OB: “La mezza stagione” is midseason, and is a concept that is taken very seriously here. I guess people feel kind of awkward wearing summer clothes in the spring, for some cultural reason. We seem to not care about the weather conditions and we often decide what to wear in the morning by not by looking out the window or at a thermometer, but by checking the calendar. So, no matter how hot it might be out, it is very unlikely that you will see any tank-tops, sandals, or bare legs around until May or June!

NR: How should students dress in terms of not sticking out as tourists and blending in with the Italian people? OB: I understand that during the study abroad experience, one starts to consider the host country like a “second home.” Our students live here during a very significant part of their lives and I see how not blending in might cause them to feel like they are considered tourists, which might be upsetting at times. So if you want to buy European clothes to bring back as a souvenir, or if you find that Italian style meets your taste, then here’s my top 7 hints to navigate the city disguised as a local: 1. “La mezza stagione” (midseason) – it may bring on a little sweat, but with a European feel. 2. Italians seem to think of leggings as stockings, not pants. So 14

Photo by Kai Lin Ling

Have you ever experienced the thrill of being a professional artist? Have you felt the buzz of the microphones just inches away ready to capture every single noise you make? Thanks to SLD’s Musing Club, several students got to access the backstage of a recording studio and stand in the spotlight to record their very first live music session. At Koan Studios, a popular production company for talented young musicians, FUA students recorded with the guidance of a studio sound technician and with the inspiring presence of the pianist and FUA professor Pietro Billi. Every second counted, and students sang in front of a delighted audience. The students chose famous arias taken from the history of great Italian opera as well as catchy tunes from contemporary hit lists. When the red led flashed, they took a deep breath, and looked right through the glass panels while singing their hearts out. Do not miss the opportunity of joining the upcoming Musing Club activities!




Don’t miss out on the upcoming events that are going on in March and April! March 25th Musing Club: Opera Night @ St. Mark’s Church March 27th City Walks: Oltrarno Area April 3rd City Walks: Medici Secrets April 6th Fit Walk: Montececeri April 10th City Views: Piazzale Michelangelo April 19th Dance performance at Puccini Theater featuring FUA student Katherine Davis April 22nd Connecting Cultures Recap Meeting April 24th Love Duets, Concerto alla Chiesa di St. Mark April 26th Palazzo Strozzi Visit April 27th Mostra dell’Artigianato

With regards to the explanation of artist Victoria DeBlassie’s project provided in the Year 3 Issue 1 newsletter, the editors would like specify that she is working with the POLO TECNOLOGICO CONCIARIO in Castelfranco di Sotto, near Santa Croce sull’Arno. The project studies the timehonored Italian process of vegetable tanning leather in order to apply these processes to DeBlassie’s orange peel tapestries to create a new form of leather.

Please note that some activities may have a small fee. Write to Student Life for detailed info and check out the online calendar at the FUA website.



Supplemento di / Supplement to Blending Magazine

Direttore Responsabile /

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

Editor in chief

Anno 3 – Numero 2 – marzo/aprile 2013 /

Matteo Brogi

Year 3 - Issue 2 - March/April 2013 Caporedattore / Editore / Publisher

Editorial Director

Florence Campus per INGORDA Editore

Grace Joh

Via Alfonso La Mamora 39, 50121 Firenze Coordinamento Editoriale / Sede editoriale /

Managing Editor

Editorial Headquarters

Federico Cagnucci

Corso Tintori, 21 50121 Firenze

Redazione testi / Copy Editor

Tel. 055-0332745

Katelynn Rusnock

Stampato in proprio /

Redazione fotografica / Photo Editor

Printed in house

Kai Ling Lin Progetto grafico e impaginazione / Graphic design and layout Federico Cagnucci

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:


[continued from page 13]

Defying any weather conditions, I could set up a tent here and be perfectly happy to wake up to this view every day for the rest of my life.

Photo by Maggy Kilroy

Blending newsletter march april 2013  
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