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by FUA Alumni Association Photo by Gina Valentino

For the first issue of the spring semester, Blending presents a special double-alumni newsletter, featuring interviews with two of our FUA alumni. Our first alumna, Gina, was a valued contributor to Blending during her time at FUA. She caught up with the FUA Alumni Association to update us on what she has been up to since leaving Florence. FUA: Gina, tell us a bit about yourself and your time at FUA GV: My name is Gina Valentino. I am from Westchester County, New York. I graduated from the University at Albany with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. I studied at Florence University at the Arts during the spring semester of my junior year at the University at Albany. More recently, I completed my career certificate in Visual Communications at FUA in a postgraduate program during the 2017-2018 academic year.

FUA: What are you up to now professionally? GV: I am a writer and editor for Today Media, which includes a monthly lifestyle publication called Westchester Magazine, as well as a quarterly business publication called 914INC. I write and edit the print and digital content on a wide range of subjects, including beauty, business, dining, style, and real estate.

FUA: Why did you choose to study at FUA? GV: I chose to study at FUA in college because as a student focused on journalism, political science, and business, I wanted to expand my understanding of international relations and knowledge of other cultures. I knew living on my own in another country would help me step out of my comfort zone and encourage me to try new things. I returned to FUA for my career program in Visual Communications because I was interested in the course selection, which included computer graphics, web design, graphic design, digital photography, magazine publishing, and podcast production. I cherished my first experience studying abroad in Florence and I sought the familiarity the university and location provided.

of talented writers and designers from all over the world. I had the amazing opportunity to interview Stefano Rovai, an accomplished Tuscan graphic designer, and Gimmy Tranquillo from Controradio, one of Tuscany’s prominent radio stations. Working with BLENDING over the years allowed me to broaden my skill set and increase my confidence as a journalist.

FUA: How did your time at FUA help with your career growth? GV: One of the best opportunities I had at FUA was partaking in the experiential learning component of my photography course. The class required me to frequently photograph strangers, both Florentines and tourists alike, some of whom became friends. The practical, yet challenging, hands-on assignments helped me step out of my comfort zone and encouraged my creativity. I also had the opportunity to work with BLENDING magazine and BLENDING newsletter. I contributed editorial content, graphics, photography, and helped to design the layout of the publication. I was fortunate to work with a team

FUA: What advice would you give to a prospective FUA student? GV: My advice to future FUA students is to step outside of your comfort zone and take advantage of the many opportunities the school offers. Take a course you might not find at your home university, attend the opera, volunteer within the Florentine community, or engage in an experiential learning course. As an FUA student, you’ll be fortunate to meet interesting people from all over the globe, so take advantage of the opportunity to learn from others. Explore Florence and allow yourself to be inspired by the birthplace of the Renaissance. Travel if you can. Keep a journal.

FUA: Have you been to any FUA Alumni Association events? GV: As an FUA alumna, every year I attend the FUA alumni event at James Beard restaurant during TuttoToscana. It is a great event to connect past students with each other and the university.


STEFANO CELLAI’S WORK TO BE EXHIBITED AT GANZO Science and art must coexist in the world of photography. Understanding this notion is crucial to the appreciation of street photography, especially in a city as magical as Florence. Questions are raised when combining these two, often contrasting, elements. When does composition take precedence over subject matter? How do you know what moment is the moment? What strategies can be used to create an original image in such a well-photographed city? With these big questions that focus on the art of photography, the science behind getting the perfect shot is where technical skill becomes crucial. Behind the scenes of great photographs are techniques that rely on the artist's ability to manipulate many variables: lighting, aperture, shutter speed, over and underexposure, the list goes on. With all of these techniques and questions that go into capturing a well-composed, original, and thoughtprovoking photograph, a dance between arts and sciences must be performed.

by Collette White

The work of Stefano Cellai, a master of uniquely capturing some of the most photographed sights in the world, is coming to Ganzo in September. His photographs range from the rolling hills of the greater Tuscany area to the automatically identifiable landmarks of Florence. Cellai is able to diversify the common pictures of these monuments and Florentine icons by playing with light, depth of field, and by adding movement in his photos. For new study abroad students, a trip to Ganzo on opening night for ApriGanzo- a phenomenal aperitivo hosted by the student-run restaurant- is the perfect opportunity to settle into this new and vast culture. By welcoming Cellai’s work to Ganzo at the beginning of the Fall semester, the magical city of Florence will truly be on display for students and Florentines alike to appreciate the beauty of their home. Come see Stefano Cellai on September 19 at Ganzo, Via dei Macci, 85r.




by Madeleine Chhina Photos by author

Vivian Maier had a unique relationship with both Europe and the US, bringing artistic influences from her European upbringing to the subjects of her snapshots of America. Vivian Maier, a street photographer with a hidden cache of hundreds of photographs, was accidentally discovered a few years before her death. Her work mainly focused on the street life of Chicago and New York-her style influenced by her European childhood and her kinship with those who lived on the outskirts of society. Maier was a very singular woman, and her photographs reflect that. Maier’s style reflects the idea of her as a wandering woman, who finds the exotic and interesting wherever the wind takes her. Her black and white photographs focused more on specific people and streets, while her color photography was slightly more abstract. Maier was interested in those on the margins of city life-those who many would pass by. She identified with

them, having wandered through Chicago and New York most of her life, working as a nanny to get by. Most of her self-portraits hardly feature Maier herself- either she is shown as someone who just happens to be partially visible while she is photographing something else, or her just her shadow is included. Maier grew up in Europe, but was fascinated by the idea of the American dream. When she arrived in America, she was led by fascination to photograph the people who hadn’t quite made it. Her photographs, no matter what their subject is, exude a sense of calm. Maier’s photos don’t scream at you; instead, they invite you into the lives of her subjects. She seems to be peering into their lives, flitting in and out almost without being noticed.


TRIPPAI DI FIRENZE Students of the Italian Advanced I class explore the gastronomic delights that Florence has to offer. The famous “trippai” serve delicious Tuscan delicacies on the streets of the city; both Alessandra and Vincent recount their first experiences of the street food that is unique to Florence.

CHIOSCO DEL LAMPREDOTTO Un tipo di cibo di strada che è molto famoso a Firenze è il lampredotto. Questo cibo è di carne bovina ed è piatto per tutte le età. Sono andato a un banco che si chiama Chiosco del Lampredotto. Passando davanti al banco, vedevo “lampredotto” scritto su tutte le insegne. Ci sono andato un po’ tardi per pranzo, verso le 2 del pomeriggio, e a quell’ora c’era solo un lavoratore presente. Io e la mia amica eravamo gli unici clienti e l’uomo ci ha serviti rapidamente. Ho domandato “qual é il miglior piatto che ha?” e lui mi ha risposto “il lampredotto!” Allora abbiamo preso quello. Il conto era 5 € per il panino e una bottiglietta di acqua a testa. Non abbiamo messo tante salse nei nostri panini, solo un po’ di salsa verde (simile al pesto). Il lampredotto viene lasciato a bollire in una pentola al banco ed in ogni panino c’è tanto lampredotto dentro. Dopo che abbiamo acquistato i panini, abbiamo camminato fino al Palazzo Canacci e li abbiamo mangiati. Il pane all’inizio era un pò spesso, però alla fine era facile da mangiare. Il lampredotto aveva molto brodo di carne che sporcava le mani mentre lo mangiavamo. Aveva un sapore buono, però la consistenza era molto particolare, perché nel panino c’era molto grasso.

by Vincent Colyer Photo by author

Pensavo che la salsa verde aggiungesse un po’ di sapore, ma in realtà non era troppo forte. Alla fine del panino, il pane era bagnato perché tutto il liquido era andato nel pane. Dopo aver pensato a questo pranzo, posso dire che il lampredotto è un cibo che molte persone dovrebbero provare quando vengono a Firenze. 3


by Alessandra Cartolano Photo by author

Per gli americani, il lampredotto non è un piatto tipico, ma nella cultura fiorentina è considerato un cibo normale. Il lampredotto è un tipo di alimento di strada ed è venduto in tanti posti, tra cui ll'Antico Trippaio, un banco alimentare vicino a Piazza Signoria. Questo è gestito da Maurizio e Roberto Marchetti da circa 20 anni. Prima di loro, il loro zio Miro ha gestito il banco per oltre 35 anni. Miro guidava la sua bicicletta per Firenze e vendeva la trippa alla gente del posto. Questo rivenditore è stato il primo a ottenere una licenza per vendere la trippa, cioè lo stomaco del bovino, cento anni fa. Maurizio e Roberto sono molto amichevoli, lavorano dalle otto del mattino fino alle otto di sera e il loro unico giorno libero è a Natale! Ogni giorno servono molti fiorentini e turisti da tutto il mondo. Il cibo de L'Antico Trippaio è diventato così famoso che è stato pubblicato su riviste americane e giapponesi.

Questo chiosco di cibo di strada è famoso per i panini al lampredotto. Il lampredotto è uno dei quattro stomaci del bovino che si chiama l'abomaso. All'inizio, pensavo che fosse molto strano, così ho deciso di provarlo nonostante la mi riluttanza. L'unica parte del bovino che avevo mangiato fino a quel momento era la carne di un hamburger! Ho ordinato un sandwich

con il lampredotto, e sorprendentemente, mi è piaciuto! Ho ordinato un panino semplice, ma si possono aggiungere porri o funghi. Le salse che usano sono tutte fresche e fatte con ingredienti della loro fattoria agricola. Consiglierei L'Antico Trippaio a tutti. Il servizio e il cibo sono fantastici. Per gli americani, potrebbe sembrare strano mangiare lampredotto, ma a me è davvero piaciuto!


AN AROMATIC EXPERIENCE AT ERBORISTERIA SAN SIMONE Specializing in cosmetics and perfumes since 1700, the herbalist shop Antica Spezieria Erboristeria San Simone sits unassumingly amidst other stores on a quiet street in Florence. Passersby can observe the warmly lit interior and may catch a whiff of the carefully crafted aromas that exit the shop. Inside, Fernanda Russo hosts one of her highly sought after perfume-crafting workshops, where customers learn about the different elements that go into creating their own unique scent. She begins the lesson describing the three categories of scents: head, heart, and body, each contributing to the overall 4

essence of the final product. Her voice is soft, as she does not need to speak loudly to capture the attention of her audience; they are highly focused on her words as she shares her immense knowledge of the olfactory system, and the key to producing the perfect fragrance. As a young child growing up in Puglia, a region of Southern Italy, Russo was intrigued by fragrances. She turned this passion into a career, which she credits as helping her “find herself” and shaping her as a person. After living in Rome for a period of time, Russo met her husband and moved to Florence, where she began

by Micaela Moran her work at the San Simone shop. Her favorite aspect of working with clients is the giving and receiving of happiness; although she is providing the service of a workshop, she always feels as though she is receiving something as well by getting to experience her customer’s joy, learning something special about each of them through their distinctive creations.



Photos by Marie-Michelle Bensason



by Barbara Carranza Bartra Photos by the author

Everyone knows of the Uffizi Gallery, Galleria dell’Accademia and Palazzo Vecchio. But what about the Museum of Zoology and Natural History, or locally known as La Specola? This small but beautiful museum is located in the Oltrarno, the neighbourhood of Florence located South of the Arno River. La Specola features an immense collection of preserved animals and anatomical wax models, a hall filled with the skeletons of mammals, a gallery dedicated to Galileo, and even a stuffed hippopotamus. La Specola, which translates as “observatory”, opened in 1775 and is Europe’s oldest scientific museum. However, despite this distinction, and that this museum is only a stone’s throw from the Palazzo Pitti, not many tourists flock to it. The place was empty when I went there, save for a family of four and two young ladies. It was nice to walk around a museum without the crowds for a change, however I couldn’t ignore the disappointment I felt at the lack of visitors. I realized quickly that La Specola houses many revered and unique collections 6

that everyone should see. On the first floor there is the opulent Galileo Tribune, which includes frescoes that recount his life and a large sculpture of the Tuscan scientist himself. This room leads into the “Mineraliter” section, containing rare and exquisite minerals acquired from Italy and around the world. The zoological segment is on the second floor, and the sound of critters chirping welcomes you in. The rooms are filled with large exhibits of ancient animal taxidermies, and feature only 5,000 of an astounding 3 million species that La Specola possesses. They range from deers, lions, tigers and wolves, to gorillas, kangaroos, alligators and the famous hippopotamus that had been given to the Grand Duke Peter Leopold and lived in the nearby Boboli Gardens during the 18th century. Seeing these stuffed animals up close, especially apex predators like the lion and tiger, was actually intimidating. They were so convincing, so authentic - and surprisingly that’s not even the best of what La Specola has to offer.



The highlight of the museum are the eye-popping anatomical wax figures, comprised of body parts with the outer layers peeled back, showing the tight muscles and webs of red veins that lay beneath our skin. This collection centers around naked female wax models called the Venuses. They are shown in erotic poses with their midsections open to expose their organs. Though unnerving and even repulsive to look at, these intricately graphic models were once a body of art, being helpful to medical students back in the 17th century who were studying the human anatomy. Lastly there is the Hall of Skeletons, that displays skeletons such as an Indian elephant and the extinct species of the Tasmanian wolf. Finally, the Torrino, which is an observatory and astronomical tower to which La Specola owes its name, and was in use until the 19th century.

I recommend La Specola to anyone who wants to enjoy a calm, quiet museum experience and isn’t afraid to be little grossed out. Cost of entry into La Specola varies depending on the collections: the Galileo Tribune is free, tickets for both the Zoology and “Mineraliter” sections is 6 euros, and you can view the anatomical wax models, the Skeletons Hall and the Torrino for an additional 3 euros. For the latter three collections, you must book a guided tour beforehand. They offer tours Tuesday through Friday at 11:30am and 3pm, and Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 3 pm; La Specola is closed on Mondays.


EXPLORING THE BOOKSTORES OF FLORENCE The “librerie” of Florence are an important part of the city’s history and atmosphere. A great way to explore a new city is to do so through its bookshops and the stories they have to tell. Students from the Travel Writing class share the discoveries and reflections they experienced whilst browsing Florentine bookstores.


by Catherine Day Photo by Blending

The smell of books, there’s nothing quite like it. It hits you the second you walk through the doors of the Libreria Antiquaria Cappellini. They don’t have just any books, but the old kind where the pages have turned brown, the colors are somewhat faded, and the binding is starting to fall apart. Walking through the doors is like walking back in time, to a bookstore filled with history. It is marked with a unassuming sign outside, so that it would be very easy for a passerby not to notice it at all. The small, one-room shop is lined with ornate bookshelves on every side. Books of every shape, size, and topic fill the space to the brim, with shades of gold inlaid in the covers. Even though I couldn’t understand the titles of the books because they were in Italian, I could still appreciate the beauty and work that went into crafting them. What hit me as I looked around, was that this bookstore was almost like a museum, the books displayed as art pieces or artifacts. Why don’t we look at books the same way we look at art in a museum? I felt that same sense of awe and magic that I get when I step into a gallery or museum. It really comes down to what we see as beauty, I suppose. Our generation does


not engage with books in the same way as past generations due to the growth and prevalence of technology in our daily lives. It’s understandable why so many people might choose to order a book online; it’s so convenient to purchase a book with one click, or instantly download it and begin reading immediately. However, there are also people like me who prefer to have the book in their hands because this has a special way of appealing to many of our senses: we can touch it, smell it, and it engages our imagination. It’s a wonderful experience, wandering through the aisles, seeing the stories outside the contents of the books. Several thoughts run through my head whenever I make a selection off the shelves; who owned it before? Where has this book been? Was it loved or hated? When you purchase a book in a libreria, you become part of the history of that item, and you are engaged in the mystery of its past. It’s a powerfully tangible experience that cannot be replaced, so next time you think about ordering your book online or downloading it onto your Kindle, ask yourself what you want out of the experience. Maybe you will realize that it’s worth much more in the long run to take a little trip the old-fashioned way.




by Samantha Birdsall Photo by Blending

After a day of exploring old book stores of Florence, I found myself harboring a greater appreciation for books themselves. My first stop, unknowingly, would end up being my favorite. It was a quaint, stone bookshop, nuzzled in the corner of a small alleyway. A small, soft glow emerged from behind the glass window. Streaked, over time, by weather and curious hands, I found myself squinting a smidge just to peer through it. Behind it, my eyes caught an array of books, both old and new, small and large. The books were varied, some were in English, some in Italian, and for others, I had no idea in what language they were written. I was intrigued. As I dragged the heavy wooden door open, and stepped inside, the first thing I noticed was the smell, old books. It embraced me, warmly, and I felt at peace. It invited a sense of nostalgia that welled up and took root in my stomach. I couldn’t explain why, but it was comforting. It reminded me of my grandmother, my childhood, and my fondness of home. I love it there.

remembered a favorite quote of mine by Holbrook Jackson, “your library is your portrait.” And thus, I wondered, was this the old man’s portrait? At my next stop, it seemed as if the store was closed. A small click sounded as I hesitantly peeked inside. Dust settled lightly, and sat among the corners of small shelves, catching the covers of old novels bathed in dappled light from the sun. The large front window, allowed for sunlight to drench itself over the shelves, mimicking an almost halo-

like aura around them. There were stacks of books piled high that seemed as if they had been sitting there for decades. Untouched and in need of love, their leather covers resembled the skin of a dried peach. Other than the sunlight, it was rather dark and somber in the shop. It seemed to amplify the peaceful ambiance, a welcome relief from the hectic street. I left, as quietly as I came, and I thought to myself, these feelings are what Amazon cannot offer me.

My next stop was the store of a small, wrinkly, and rather old man. He sat behind the counter, peeking at me over the frames of his round glasses. Hunched forward, he seemed lost in the pages of a small book His hands shook as he read. Although he paid me no mind, other than a quick half raise of his eyes to the top of his glasses, I still felt that there was an unspoken understanding. He would read, and I would eventually find something to read too. In attempt not to disturb him, I quietly tiptoed around the mahogany tables and shelves, scanning the small room of novels. There was truly a plethora of them, protruding out of everywhere from left to right. I ran my hand along the spines of the books and noticed many of them were old and weathered. Some were stained brown in the corners, it looked as if they had been accidently singed. I 9


FLY FASHION LOOK OF THE MONTH Photos by Kasey Salter / Styling by Chalee Britt and Yanibel Reyes Santos Text by Chalee Britt, Yanibel Reyes Santos and Kasey Salter

Welcome to the era of contemporary vintage! New Kid is the current emerging Florentine designer for FLY, and presents styles that offer a modern twist on combining masculine and feminine elements to create a powerful elegance. This look is composed of a New Kid semisheer, polka-dotted cream and light taupe top paired with a matching highwaisted skort to create a modern twist on extravagant vintage. Sunglasses are an absolute necessity for the look. To accessorize even further, a Malu Palma student-created leather tote is included, which creates a contrast between the sheer New Kid set and the checkered white bag. Lastly, for footwear, New Kid designed a tennis sneaker that is both fashion forward, versatile, and essential to the Italian people.This black suede tennis shoe is an effortless and functional look, and is perfect for both locals and tourists walking around Florence. Even better, these sneakers can be dressed up or dressed down, depending on the occasion and the climate. New Kid’s set is made from light and relaxed fabric which makes it comfortable to wear in the heat. Comfort, style and movability were the three things kept in mind when creating this outfit. Whilst walking around Florence, or Italy in general, it is important to wear clothes that stand out but are still comfortable for walking all day. This look is the perfect blend of style and practicality. New Kid designs the perfect clothes for someone who is looking for style, elegance and comfort. New Kid is a brand that is


based in Florence, Italy. All of her products are made in Tuscany, between Pisa and Florence, and she uses local materials in her merchandise. In her own words, New Kid describes her brand saying, “Our aesthetic is informed by a love of pop culture and nostalgia, exotic textiles and handicrafts and the cliched reverence for an Italian sunset. We aim to capture a bit of a naïve, yet wild sense of the world.”





by FUA Alumni Association Photo by Nicholas Abriola

FUA: Tell us about yourself... SA: My name is Sarah Abriola. I’m from Bethany, Connecticut and

FUA: What are your favorite FUA memories?

I attend Eastern Connecticut State University. I work in the Study

SA: I really loved the soccer class that I took. I played soccer my whole

Abroad Office there right now as an advisor. My major is Health

life in the States, so to be in Florence and still playing the sport felt

Sciences with a concentration in public health and I studied at FUA

really special. I also participated in the Sport Nights organised by the

during the spring semester in 2016.

Student Life Department. I really liked going to Montepulciano with my History of Wine Culture class; it was a real privilege to learn about

FUA: What made you choose Italy, and in particular, Florence?

wine in one of the most celebrated wine regions of Italy. Returning to

SA: I heard about the amazing experiences of people I knew that

Florence for Alumni Week was an incredible experience. Sometimes

studied at FUA before me. It’s hard to pick one reason, everything

when you travel to new places it can be scary or overwhelming, but

that FUA had to offer seemed awesome. I also have some Italian

going back to Florence felt perfect, only two years later.

heritage that I wanted to explore further. FUA: What would you say to any future students looking into FUA: How did FUA help you grow as a person?


SA: I learned a lot, mostly about how to be more independent and to

SA: I am always encouraging students to take advantage of the study

step out of my comfort zone. I took an Italian language course and at

abroad experiences offered to them, as it’s a particularly enjoyable

the end of every lesson, we would have to make a presentation to the

part of my role at Eastern Connecticut State University. The students

class, which at the time, I thought was the end of the world. After a

have an incredible choice of study abroad opportunities, but I always

while though, I felt much more comfortable when public speaking,

recommend Florence above any other experience - I let them know

and by the end of the course, it was a breeze!

I’m biased, of course! 11



Supplemento di /

Direttore Responsabile / Editor in chief

Supplement to Blending Magazine

Matteo Brogi

Reg. Trib. di Firenze n° 5844 del 29 luglio 2011 Anno 8 - Numero 6 - Ottobre 2018

Caporedattore / Editorial Director

Year 8 - Issue 6 - October 2018

Grace Joh

Editore / Publisher

Coordinamento Editoriale /

Florence Campus per INGORDA Editore

Managing Editor

Via Alfonso Lamarmora, 39

Shauna Kavanagh

50121 Firenze Redazione testi / Copy Editors Sede editoriale /

Barbara Carranza Bartra

Blending is a newsletter created

Editorial Headquarters

Madison Dietz

with and for students of Florence

via dell'Oriuolo, 43

Maria Larcomb

University of the Arts, the academic

50122 Firenze

member of Palazzi FAIE.

Tel. 055 2633 182/183

Redazione fotografica / Photo Editor Marie-Michelle bensason

The newsletter collaborates with the Student Life Department and

Stampato in proprio /

Development Office.

Printed in house

Consulenti Accademici /

For information contact:

Faculty Advisors

Catia Ballerini Andrea Mancini Rebecca Moore Gaia Poli Impaginazione / Page Layout Kayla Padol 12

p e r F l o re n c e C a m p u s E d i t o re

BLENDING Newsletter OCTOBER 2018  

BLENDING Newsletter OCTOBER 2018