25 nov - 9 dec 2011, Suppl. N.26
Transportation Strikes in Italy
American comfort food
Secrets of the Cupola’s Construction Revealed Expert speaks at conference to share research of Brunelleschi’s techniques
COLOR MAP INSIDE
“The Monster of Florence”
Film in the Works
“Normally there is confusion at the site of a crime scene; normally there is blood,” says Italian criminal journalist Mario Spezi as he describes the first crime scene of the most infamous serial killer in all of Italy. “Besides one small shot in the head and a black space where the girl’s privates had been, you would’ve thought the couple was sleeping,” Il Mostro, or “The Monster of Florence,” the titular person of Spezi and Douglass Preston’bestselling novel, gruesomely murdered 14 couples from 1974 to 1985. continued on page 3
Researchers, architects, historians and engineers the world over have had more than half of a millennium to try and uncover the architectural logistics behind Brunelleschi’s masterpiece that sits atop Santa Maria del Fiore. Massimo Ricci, a man who has spent the last nearly four decades researching the
Duomo, has finally managed to shed light on the craftwork and technique used to create the enormous, octagonal structure without the use of a wooden support structure. Studying the internal structure itself has been particularly difficult over the years because of the potential of damaging the Renaissance paintings that cover the interior.
Professor Ricci shared his findings with the world during a live, streaming conference with the National Geographic Society earlier this month, made available worldwide. The conference, which was held in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, allowed Ricci a global stage on which to reveal a lifetime’s worth of research. continued on page 2
“A Guide to the City” is the bi-weekly supplement to www.theflorencenewspaper.com. The newspaper is distributed throughout the city of Florence in all key reference points for the English speaking community including hotels and hostels, universities and language schools, libraries, restaurants and cafes. Contact us at
CONTENTS FLORENCE NEWS 2-4 NATIONAL NEWS 5 LIVING IN THE CITY 6 CITY GUIDE 7-10 FOOD & WINE 11 FLORENCE HISTORY 12 STYLE & ENTERTAINMENT 13 TRAVEL 14 SPORT 15
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Erich Schrader Writers ERICH SCHRADER, CLAIRE PANICCIA, JESSICA REYNOLDS, KATIE FAHY, MEGAN BRAIN, SALLYANNE ALLEGRETTI
Secrets of the Cupola’s Construction Revealed Expert speaks at conference to share research of Brunelleschi’s techniques
Erich Schrader The conference, which was held in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, allowed Ricci a global stage on which to reveal a lifetime’s worth of research. The techniques used by Filippo Brunellesepitomize perfection, as a structure of this size and shape could not have been done any other way. The master architect used a system of sandstone and wooden braces at very specific intervals tohold the walls in place. Along the Duomo’s interior balustrade, Ricci recognized eight metallic hooks set into the structure around the interior, just beneath the paintings. Using theses hooks and a complex system of chains, Brunelleschi was capable of pinpointing the exact center of the dome. As construction continued upward, the chains were simultaneously raised on one end to create a perfectly symmetrical shape all the way to the top where the structure opens. Equally important as Brunelleschi’s use of chains is the technique used to keep the bricks in place: a herringbone brick system that relies on a precise use of both horizontal and vertical bricks to lend support to one another. According to Ricci, without this herringbone system, the construction of the dome as we know it would have been impossible. The structure itself is essentially made up of two domes, an interior and an exterior. Ricci’s findings were made possible in part by the use of a microprobe that was inserted approximately two feet between bricks in the interior shell, for the first time ever entering what he referred to as the “heart” of the structure. Filippo Brunelleschi’s masterpiece is still the world’s largest masonry dome, standing at an awe-inspiring 375 feet, including the lantern. The master architect died in 1446, 23 years before the structure was completely finished with the addition of the copper ball and cross atop the lantern in 1469.
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The Florence Marathon Event attracts participants from all over the world
Florence is an amazing city for leisurely strolls along the river and through small alley ways, but that won’t be the case on Sunday, November 27. This particular day is for running, not walking. The last Sunday of the month marks the city’s 28th annual road race, the beautiful and scenic Florence Marathon. From the Piazza Duomo and Piazza della Signoria to Ponte Vecchio and countless other historic and outstanding sights, the race stretches 42 km and 195 meters throughout the entire city. The Florence Marathon is not only the most anticipated running event in all of Tuscany, but also one of the biggest in all of Italy, second only to Rome. More than 10,200 fans and participants journey from more than 62
countries to Florence to take part in the glorious event. To make things a little bit more exciting this year, the itinerary has been changed; instead of beginning the road race in Piazzale Michelangelo, catch the runners take off in Lungarno Pecori Giraldi. The event attracts not only athletes but also visitors who simply want to observe on the sidelines and to participate in the “Marathon Party” that takes place after athletes have reached the end of the race at Santa Croce Square. Several hotels and restaurants hold special evening events such as dinner with full Tuscan menus, music, shows and even dancing for those who have come to celebrate the completion of the Florence Marathon.
The celebration brings together athletes, family, close friends and even a few new ones, too. Go to www.firenzemarathon.it for more information about it!up of two domes, an interior and an exterior. Ricci’s findings were made possible in part by the use of a microprobe that was inserted approximately two feet between bricks in the interior shell, for the first time ever entering what he referred to as the “heart” of the structure. Filippo Brunelleschi’s masterpiece is still the world’s largest masonry dome, standing at an awe-inspiring 375 feet, including the lantern. The master architect died in 1446, 23 years before the structure was completely finished with the addition of the copper ball and cross atop the lantern in 1469.
“The Monster of Florence” Film in the Works
Journalist Mario Spezi talks about Il Mostro, government corruption and George Clooney
continued from page 1 Fox 2000 recently acquired the rights to the film, which will star George Clooney as Douglass Preston. The movie will be filmed in Italy and is scheduled to be released in 2013. Up until 1974, many thought of Florence as an idyllic haven, thriving with rich culture and art combined with mom and pop shops around every worn cobblestone street. “[Serial Killers] existed in more modern societies like America and Great Britain and of course in our literature,” says Spezi. The monster targeted couples that would drive to the outskirts of the city to make love in their cars in privacy. He would swiftly shoot the couple in the head, always using the same .22 Beretta gun, and drag the female out of the car, always cutting out her genitals and often defacing other sexual organs. Having little relatable experience and the city in a panic, police and the public started to accuse doctors, priests, gynecologists, butchers, and even the town drunks. Many were thrown in jail, without evidence, sometimes simply for their ability to wield a knife. “The incompetence was not normal, even for Italian standards,” jokes Spezi. According to Spezi, the only method the police had for seeding out the innocent was the continuation of murders, even when “the monster” was locked away in jail. This led to the belief, that it was the “members of a very ancient satanic sect, who were comprised of noble family members in Florence.” “In Italy, when there is a murder with no direction, they always think it’s a satanic sect,” says Spezi. “No one wants to believe it’s a lone man; it’s more exciting that way, it sells more newspapers.” At the time, Spezi was a criminal reporter for La Nazione, the most influential newspaper in Tuscany. He often didn’t sleep; every hour was a working hour, competing with other journalists to get a little closer to unmasking the monster.
Grace Capuzzo In 1992, the police arrested a Tuscan farmer named Pietro Pacciani, whom Spezi believes to have been arrested solely to save face. “The police were sure no more murders would be committed, but they needed to convict someone,” he says. After the prosecutor claimed they had no evidence to hold Pacciani, they released him and arrested two men in 1996, Mario Vanni and Giancarlo Lotti, believed to be accomplices of Pacciani, whom Spezi describes fondly as “the village idiots; not capable of committing the crime that was so clearly the work of one man.” However, they were held accountable for 20 years. After they were also proven innocent, other suspects were brought to light, but there was no proof or evidence to convict any of them. The killer was never found because, according to Spezi, “The police didn’t want to find him; that would mean admitting to their many mistakes.” When American writer Douglass Preston moved to the outskirts of Florence in 2000, he became riveted with the tale and joined forces with Spezi to continue their own research. Their persistence led them to the front door of Antonio Vinci when two of Vinci’s acquaintances told Spezi that he kept a safe house with six locked iron boxes, possibly containing evidence relating to the crime. In response to their research, Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini banned Preston from Italy indefinitely and accused Spezi of being the monster because of his tremendous knowledge of the case. The police wired Spezi’s phone and raided his house, confiscating more than a decade’s worth of research and throwing him in jail for 23 days. “I was not allowed to see anyone, including my lawyer, for 6 days,” says Spezi. “I was considered highly dangerous. My lawyer had to go to the judge to decide if I had to stay in jail or not and, strangely enough,
Mario Spezi, Florentine journalist and author of the best-seller “The Monster of Florence: a True Story”
the ‘judge’ was the same person who had arrested me.” “The system is completely corrupt,” says Spezi. “It’s only about how they can help themselves; they are untouchable, and no one can tell Mignini to go away.” When Spezi asked the film’s screenwriter Chris McQuarrie (Valkyrie) how he was planning on making a thriller movie without knowing the ending, he said that he “wasn’t interested in making another serial killer film.” He said the film was going to instead, “Focus on the story of two friends, who don’t believe the results of an investigation and how the Italian criminal justice system reacted.” In short, “they would begin with a monster and finish with another one.” George Clooney also wants to change the end of the film to include the
Amanda Knox case and tie the two together, with its binding factor being Mignini, who also served as the chief prosecutor in Knox’s trial. After half a lifetime of investigation, Spezi claims to have “tapped over his boxes of research,” mentally and physically packaging everything up, adding that he will “only unwrap them if the monster himself wants an interview.” It’s still up in the air as to who will play Spezi in the film, but if he had his way, Dustin Hoffman would top the list, even though he admits, “he doesn’t look like me and he’s not Italian, but he’s smart and would be a good choice.” When asked about George Clooney’s involvement in the film, Spezi jokes that Clooney probably said, “Mario [Spezi] is too handsome, I will play Preston.”
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Always in Style…
One American’s observations of Italian Style Claire Paniccia
I find it fascinating that, in Italy, many of the men do more to prepare themselves in the morning than I do, a young American female. Granted, there are all types, as anywhere, but generally speaking the standard of manly maintenance is noticeably higher than, say, back home in the US. In my first week of being in Florence, I saw a man walking his dog. A fairly normal occurrence, except that this particular man was preened and particular, with jeans almost as fitted as mine, sleek black hair sculpted into a feaux-hawk that could cut marble, and a completely even complexion of bronzed Tuscan gorgeousness. His dog: a small black chihuahua with legs as thin as pencils. Believe me, I am a full supporter of to-
each-his-own, but the sensation of seeing this man was akin to being gobbed in the face with a big handful of goopy cosmetics screaming “Welcome to Italy! It’s not quite like Ohio!” I’ve seen this type many times on the street since then, and I still don’t quite understand the chihuahua, but he’s become just another feature of the city that I’ve come to love. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. On the contrary, it’s rather nice to be surrounded by men who care about what they look like. It also makes for an entertaining game I like to call “Find the Americans.” Perhaps this phenomenon is a symptom of the fact that Italy has become the heartbeat of fashion. When you’re surrounded
by colossal window displays of Ferragamo, Gucci, Prada and the like, it starts to get into your brain and lodges a very sturdy foot there. My standards of dress in the morning have increased significantly since I’ve been here, which has made it difficult to hold onto what few pennies I have. But, when in Florence, right? Not to mention that because of all this fashion, the women look fantastic all the time, too, and none of those women would go for a sloppy dude in a filthy hoodie and basketball shorts with yesterday’s socks on, now would she? It could also be a result of being surrounded by so many beautiful things. Florence is the mecca of art history, and there’s a reason for that. It’s a beautiful and inspiring place with more palaces and cathedrals
than I thought could exist in such a compact area. It gets into your blood when your surroundings have such a high aesthetic level, and perhaps other aspects of life conform to that as well. My personal theory is that there is something in the air, like spores that just inspire everyone to contribute to the beauty of the world, including presenting a well-composed version of yourself.More likely than not, it’s probably just the Italian way. The Italian people live by extremes: beautiful cities, beautiful art, fantastic food, wine, scenery, language, music, everything. Instead of just dressing up for a special occasion, Italians dress up for life because life is special. Makes sense to me. I think we could do without the chihuahuas though, gentlemen.
Emergencies and other useful numbers
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NationalNews News Florence
Capitoline Wolf’s History again being Investigated Studies continue to suggest an alternative history to that of the traditional myth The controversial debate as to the historical authenticity of the iconic statue of Rome’s founders, Romulus and Remus, has again been brought into the spotlight with the recent claim by a German news magazine that the statue featuring the two with the she-wolf is an imitation. Der Spiegel, a weekly German news magazine, recently called the Capitoline Wolfe, or Lupa Capitolina, an imitation, citing historical evidence that would suggest that the statue should, at least in theory, be 2,500 years old. The magazine continued by reiterating a popular argument that has been repeatedly brought up in the discussion as to the statue’s true history: that although the statue of the she-wolf was originally thought to be Etruscan, 5th century BC, recent studies have suggested that it may actually be a medieval sculpture from the 13th century. Der Spiegel went on to suggest that the statue could have been forged by a Spanish artist during the Middle Ages, as the techniques used to craft the work are not thought to have been available to the Romans in ancient times. Studies performed during the statue’s
four-year restoration suggest that the bronze statue was cast all at once; a forging technique that was originally developed during medieval times, lending further credibility to the claims suggesting that it was forged during the Middle Ages. Prior to the technique’s incorporation into everyday forging, nearly all statues were cast in smaller pieces before being constructed into the final product, which apparently wasn’t the case with the she-wolf statue. The theory that the statue itself does not date back to the previously advertised 753 BC was also challenged by a Roman newspaper back in 2006, which also claimed that the work had to have been crafted during medieval times. Roman historians date the city’s foundation from 758 to 728 BC. If it is determined that the statue was indeed forged in the 13th century, scholars fear that it will diminish the work’s cultural and historical significance with the city. Despite the possibility of calling into question the city’s patronage, the Capitoline Museum recently announced that it would acknowledge the possibility that the statue was forged in medieval times, along with that of
the historical myth of the city’s founding. The statue, which features a she-wolf suckling Rome’s founders Romulus and Remus, was inspired by the myth of the city’s
founding. The Capitoline Wolf has been on display in the Museo Nuovo in the Palazzo dei Conservatori since 1471.
International Stars Called in for Berlusconi Trial List of potential witnesses include George Clooney and Cristiano Ronaldo
The upcoming trial pertaining to allegations that former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi paid a minor for sex just got even more interesting, as the list of more than 200 witnesses expected to testify now includes the A-list celebrity George Clooney and Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan girl who goes by the name “Ruby,” claims to have taken money from Berlusconi in exchange for sex and is one of the cornerstones of the prosecution’s case against the former premier. She also claims to have seen Clooney at a party in Berlusconi’s villa, as well to
have shared a hotel room with Cristiano Ronaldo. Berlusconi’s defense is convinced that the celebrities’ testimony would prove the aforementioned allegations to be false. The former premier has perpetually denied having paid for sex, as well as any other
wrongdoing, and claims to be the victim of left-wing conspiracy. Silvio Berlusconi served three terms as Italian Prime Minister, the most recent of which ended earlier this month with his resignation. He has since been replaced by Mario Monti.
Arts Exhibits in Italy
Traditional Tuscan Restaurant in Florence
FLORENCE - Palazzo Strozzi: Money and Beauty - Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities; until January 22.
GENOA - Palazzo Ducale: Van Gogh and Gauguin’s Journey; American and European masterpieces spanning two centuries, with works by Van Gogh (over 40), Gauguin and various American artists such as Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn and Caspar David Friedrich; until April 15. MILAN - Brera Gallery: ‘Brera meets the Pushkin, Russian collecting from Renoir to Matisse’; 20 works including Monet, Gauguin, Cezanne and Picasso; until February 5. - Anish Kapoor, sculptures and installations at two venues: Rotonda until October 9 and Fabbrica del Vapore until January 8.
PISA - Palazzo Blu: I Wanted To Be A Painter And I Became Picasso, 200 works; until January 29.
Prosciutto crudo di scarpaccia con salame e finocchiona di cinta senese, filetto di lonza stagionato di San gimignano con bocconcino di cinghiale maremmano affinato in olio novello di Panzano in chianti, lardo di colonnata con sottoli di verdurine miste e pecorino di Monteporo, crostino toscano sul coccio alla candela, il tutto accompagnato da sfizioso budino all’uovo su foglie di tartufo nero di San miniato. First Courses Mezze maniche di pasta fresca in trafila laminata sul cinghiale maremmano marinato al vin Brunello e bacche di ginepro. Crespelle di farina di castagne ripiene di porri, ricotta e mornaise di funghi porcini.
ROME - Palazzo Venezia: Rome In The Time of Caravaggio, 140 works by Caravaggio and his followers from major Italian and international collections, some never shown in Italy; until February 5.
Second Courses Arrosto di natale Lonza ripiena di uvetta, pinoli e pistacchi al forno servita su letto di spinaci composte. Tagliata di manzo ai 3 sapori con spicchi di patate Rosolate.
- Scuderie del Quirinale: Filippino Lippi and Sandro Botticelli in 15th-century Florence; until January 15.
VENICE - Palazzo Ducale: Thousand-year cultural links between Venice and Egypt, more than 300 works; until January 22. - Biennale showgrounds: 54th edition of international contemporary art show; 83 artists, until November 27.
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Living In The City Florence News
Transportation Strikes in Italy
How to Avoid the Inconveniences of International Travel
From AngloINFO.com Italy is prone to wildcat strikes, so much so that there is a commission to deal with and plan for industrial action. The strike authority’s website is in Italian but has a calendar of upcoming strikes (scioperi). It is possible to search for information on strikes by date, region or sector. The strike commission’s website is in Italian, but can be found at www.commissionegaranziasciopero.it. In order to find out about forthcoming strikes, click on calendario scioperi (strike schedule) and then on elenco scioperi for a full list of strikes in Italy. The British Embassy also publishes information when major strikes are planned, especially those concerning public transport, and can be found at www.fco.gov.uk. If you find yourself travelling on a strike day, the main points of contact for public transport and flight information are the following:
Alitalia (Italian airways) Tel: 8488 6564123 from outside Rome Tel: 06 6564123 from Rome http://www.alitalia.com/GB_EN/home/ index.aspx
Trenitalia (Italian railways)
Rail strikes often affect only a region at a time. The Trenitalia website publishes updated schedules in the regional section (although only in Italian), so for specific information on regional strike action, you can select to search specific regions on the website. Funzione Pubblica is a Trade Union federated to the CGIL organization looking after public workers. For news on strikes in the public service sector, you can view the group’s website at http://www.fpcgil.it/ flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/IT/IDPagina/1. The full article, as well as other useful information pertaining to living in Italy, can be accessed at AngloINFO.com. Some upcoming strikes in December include a national Alitalia personnel strike for four hours from 10am to 2pm on December 2nd, which could lead to delayed flight times and potentially missed connecting flights. If you’re scheduled to fly on that day, you are encouraged to contact the airline company and inquire as to whether or not your flight could be affected by the strike. Personnel for local public transportation
companies, including buses and tramways, are scheduled to strike on December 16th for a full 24 hours. The strikes could take place at different times depending on the specific location, but no further details have as of yet been made available.
Continue to check the strike schedule made available on
to stay up to date on new developments before travelling.
Food & Wine Florence News
Omelets, Bagels, Milkshakes and More American staples leave their mark amongst the Italian cuisine Jessica Reynolds
If you haven’t tried these places yet, you need to. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about: Mama’s Bakery and The Diner—my two favorites in Florence for a little taste of food from home. The breakfast scene in Italy isn’t exactly huge from an American perspective. A small croissant, cappuccino…what happened to eggs, home fries and a side of pancakes? In my search for the diner-style breakfast I missed so much from home, I was told to go here: The Diner may be the only diner in Florence serving American kitchen classics. Since 2004 they have been bringing joy to study-abroad students in need of more than just a croissant for breakfast, and sandwiches filled with something other than tomato and mozzarella. With a 1950s retro feel, The Diner serves up milkshakes topped with whipped cream, juicy burgers with a side of steak-cut fries and my favorite: breakfast all day. Stacks of pancakes or French toast with your choice of different fruits or chocolate chips, a selection of vegetarian omelets plus buildyour-own options, served with crispy on the outside, soft on the inside home fries—are you hungry yet? For lunch, other options include wraps and a selection of soups, including a hearty tomato
as well as broccoli cheddar. If you need a salad dressed in something other than balsamic and olive oil, you can build your own, or choose from their classic creations. This place fills up fast on the weekends and usually stays packed on those days, with a wait that can be up to 20 minutes. But these are just indications of the good food inside. If you’d rather go when the crowds aren’t as thick, midweek is much more mellow. Mama’s Bakery sits on the south side of the Arno. Opened in 2008, Mama’s was created to provide Florentines and the city’s visitors with the foods owners Matt and Christina missed most from the United States. What hooked me were their freshly bakedin-house bagels—a rarity in Florence. Familiar plain, poppy-seed, sesame-seed and everything bagels can be topped with a variety of spreads and cream cheeses. They even have peanut butter. Mama’s specials board changes frequently, so be sure to check for new items. All are made right on the premises, creating that homemade taste. Apple pies, banana breads and quiches go quickly, with new variations of pies and breads to replace them for the next day of business. Vegetarian-friendly sandwich options are abundant, and can be served on baguettes,
sandwich bread or bagels. Other lunch options include large salads and a soup of the day. In addition to bagels for breakfast, Mama’s serves breakfast egg sandwiches and a unique selection of muffins. The common blueberry and corn are available, but they also create pear and walnut muffins, white chocolate and macadamia nut, and lemon poppy-seed muffins, with slivers of lemon baked right on top. A more healthy breakfast option is their yogurt and homemade granola cup. Bags of Mama’s granola mix are available to buy and enjoy at home. Mama’s cured my craving for American sweets by baking chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and decorative cupcakes. And for anyone missing American brewed coffee, Mama’s provides that too, offering free refills if you spend more than two euro. It’s a great place to meet with friends, if you need a place to study, or if you just miss having an American breakfast. The service is friendly, the atmosphere is relaxing and the bagels are delicious. What more could you ask for?
What more could you ask for?
The Battle of Anghiari: The Lost Leonardo The search for Leonardo da Vinci’s lost work continues as new techniques are developed to help uncover it Katie Fahy In Milan, thousands make reservations months in advance to see the fabled Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Any visit to Paris must traditionally include an elbowfilled journey to the front of the Mona Lisa crowd. These are da Vinci’s best-known works, but Florence may house a da Vinci work to rival them. An empty space in the walls of Palazzo Vecchio may house a lost da Vinci painting that hasn’t been seen since the 16th century. There are references in historical texts to a da Vinci fresco that was his most stunning work. The Battle of Anghiari depicts a battle scene rife with human and equine figures. Rather than focusing on the valor and honor associated with war, it is said that the fresco instead shows the horror of battle. Art historians predict what the painting looks like based on sketches and studies found among da Vinci’s work. The painting has been lost for centuries, and proof of its existence only survived
Maurizio Serrancini at Palazzo Vecchio
in descriptions from observers, da Vinci’s sketches and in copies produced (including a famous copy done by Raphael). Maurizio Serrancini is heading the search for the lost da Vinci work. He is the head of Editech, a Florence company devoted to the restoration and preservation of cultural heritage. A native Florentine and alum of UC San Diego, Serrancini uses sensitive instruments adapted from medical instruments to search for hidden artwork. Using infrared, thermographic and ultraviolet technology, Serrancini is able to scan through layers of paint and even through walls. Different paint colors use different
chemical compounds. By mapping the patterns of chemical occurrence, Serrancini might be able to map out not only an image but also the colors of that image. The painting is believed to be hidden by a Vasari fresco that was built over it. Some believe that Vasari, a da Vinci admirer, knowingly enclosed the painting behind a wall to protect it. If Serrancini is able to locate a painting behind the Vasari fresco, it might be possible to expose the da Vinci work without doing any harm to the Vasari fresco. Understandably, if the da Vinci work is found, there will be much debate over whether or not the Vasari work should
be moved to expose the Battle of Anghiari. While painting the Battle of Anghiari, da Vinci was experimenting with a form of frescoing that he learned about from ancient Roman texts. The process was oil-based, which meant that if it wasn’t properly fixed the paint would run and the colors would pool together. Da Vinci would have had to expose the painting to enough heat to fix the fresco but not enough heat to cause it to crack.There are accounts that say that the process failed. Serrancini believes that even if the painting is damaged, it would still be a worth uncovering.
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F Shoe Artisans of Italy A
Florence News Style & Entertainment
Florence shoe artisans defined by quality work and materials
Among the European countries, Italy has topped the list in shoe production per year since 1995. The elements that ensure its permanence at this position are Italy’s tradition of artisanship and their dedication to craftsmanship and high quality raw materials. There are two main shoe districts in Italy; the Marche region and the Veneto region, although Florence is also known for shoes, due to the number of shoe artisans and their use of quality leathers. Following the tradition of previous generations, Roberto Ugolini is a shoe artisan workshop located in the Oltarno of Florence. The small shop, squeezed between a restaurant and food market on Via de’ Michelozzi, lies only a few paces away from the steps of Santo Spirito. I had the opportunity not only to admire the works of art in the window, but to interview Roberto and one of his apprentices. Roberto has been involved in the shoe trade for more multiple generations, as both his grandfather and father used to repair shoes. They then passed their skills and expertise on to Roberto. Before opening Roberto Ugolini in 2000, where he specializes in the creation of men’s shoes, he worked in a shoe repair shop on the other side of the Arno. For a new client, the process of creating a handmade custom pair of leather shoes could take five to six months, start to finish. Roberto’s apprentice explained and demonstrated the steps behind this process. Step one is taking the client’s measurements. The foot is traced onto paper and the height, width, and unique shape of the foot is recorded. These measurements are then used to make a wooden last, which is produced outside of the shop. Once the last comes in, it is customized to match the exact shape of the client’s foot by build-
ing it up with pieces of leather or cutting into the wood. Next, the fitting shoe is created from leather scraps and a rubber sole that is glued on, not stitched. This is in order to make sure that all the measurements are perfect. When the client comes back into the shop to try on the shoe, Roberto and his apprentices are able to write on it, cut it open to see how the foot rests inside, and make other modifications to ensure the best fit. Once all the measurements are perfect, they begin working on the actual shoes. Using the last, they start by tracing lines into the wood. Using these lines, they build up a small wall from which they stitch the whole shoe. They use a tool to make cuts into the inner part of the wall and to stich the upper shell and inner cell of the shoe. They make cuts on the outer part of the wall for the welt that lies along the edge. Once the stitching is finished, the sole is then stitched onto the welt. The center part of the sole is filled with cork and thicker and tougher leather to fill the gaps. The heel is then added, along with all the final details, such as wax and other finishing techniques on the top of the shoe. Most shoes that Roberto Ugolini and his team makes are made of box calf leather. However, for the more demanding clients they use more expensive leathers, such as crocodile, shark and elephant. The box calf leather shoes start at 1,000 euro. As the client chooses more exotic leathers and complicated constructions, the price goes up from there. A pair of shoes made with exotic leather and intricate stitching detail is much more expensive. The craftsmanship, hard work and top quality materials are what separate the shoes of Roberto Ugolini and other shoe artisans from all the inexpensive, mass footwear on the market.
Gondola rides, Murano Glass and Carnival Experience life as a Venetian in a city built on water In a city built on water, obviously without cars, you can take a romantic gondola ride and snuggle up under a warm blanket with someone you love. Visiting Venice is like traveling to many different islands on a cruise ship. If you go during Carnival, you can even dress up and pretend youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re at a masquerade ball. Despite not having any cars, there are taxi boats everywhere. The only way to get from one island to another is by taxi boat or via a gondola ride, which is a great way to get a private tour of the city and meet a real Venetian. In Venice, almost anything can be made from glass, from things such as a Christmas ornament to a statue, or a massive chandelier to a tiny shot glass. Murano is a great place to buy gifts. When I arrived at the island of Murano, I went and watched an exhibition of the glass being made. The artisan made a glass vase and a horse, first by heating up a metal pole and placing it inside of an open flamed oven. Upon removing the pole from the oven, I could see that a large, amorphous blob had formed on the end of it. Next, the artisan rolled the tool back and forth to form the shape of the tube of the glass. Then he blew into the stick and the bottom of the blob started to expand as he inflated the shape manually. The bottom formed into a bowl and he placed it onto a table to flatten it. The last step is to cut it off of the tool. By the time he was finished, he had formed a beautiful, orange glass vase. It was amazing to see a shapeless liquid transformed right before my eyes into a beautiful piece of art. Another island that I visited was Burano. This tiny island is known for their handmade lace and brightly colored houses, which range from different shades of red, blue, green, orange, purple and pink, all of which are connected and decorated by flowers. Although Peggy Guggenheim was from London, her collection, which is dedicated to modern art, can be found in Venice. The
collection has become one of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s major tour attractions. The Italians do not celebrate Halloween, but they do celebrate a holiday known as Carnival, which is similar in a few ways. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s held 40 days before Easter and ends on Fat Tuesday, or Martedi Grasso. This is where Marti Gras originated.
Carnival was started so that people of different social classes could hide their identities, but rather than dressing up in a costume, everyone wears elaborate masks. The masks come in countless different shapes and sizes, and some even decorate their own. A lot of them are handmade and can even be custom made
to fit your face. If you want to feel like a real Venetian, put on an elaborate mask and visit during Carnival, or maybe just go for a gondola ride with someone special and take in the sights and sounds of a city that is truly unlike any other place in the world.
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You’re Not Going to Want to Miss This Five reasons to follow the NHL this season, even if you’re living in Europe Erich Schrader I’m going to skip the cliché “it can be tough to follow your American sports teams in Europe” diatribe, as any true sports fan doesn’t deserve to have their intelligence patronized. Instead, I’m just going to give you five reasons why allowing a few thousand miles of ocean and a six hour time difference to keep you from following the NHL this season would be foolish. 5. The 2012 Winter Classic: because a sport played on ice wasn’t cold enough already Every New Year’s Day since 2008 has seen a cavalcade of calendar-worthy sports events, including bowl games and the NHL Winter Classic, when the home team hosts a regular season game outdoors. Games have been held in a variety of places, including Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. This year, the event will be hosted by the Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies. They will be challenged by the New York Rangers, and given that both teams are potential playoff contenders and Atlantic Division rivals, it promises not to suck. 4. The Winnipeg Jets; is your team next? In the team’s first year in Winnipeg, the Jets have managed to end the first few weeks of play right around .500, while in their eleven years playing in Atlanta, they only managed to finish the season above .500 three times. Only once, during the 2006-07 season, did the team make the postseason, where they were swept in the first round by the Rangers. True, they were an expansion team at the time, but now fans and players have to be asking themselves the same questions in other places where team performance and attendance has suffered. The NHL itself now owns the Phoenix Coyotes who appear to be just a few months and a pen stroke from relocation themselves, as Blackberry and Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsillie has been salivating at the possibility of relocating the team to Hamilton, Ontario for years, among other suitors. The Columbus Blue Jackets joined the NHL in 2000, but like the Thrashers, have only once made the playoffs, and were swept by the Red Wings.
3. The Concussed Concussion Debate The hot button issue over the last few seasons has been how to identify, define and punish unfair hits, the most pressing of which are the blows to head. Although it has been a controversial topic for some time, it would appear two major events have brought it to the forefront of hockey discussions: the appointment of legend Brendan Shanahan as the NHL’s Vice President of Hockey and Business Development, as well as head disciplinarian, and the injuries suffered by big name stars, like Sidney Crosby and Marc Savard. Matt Cooke shouldn’t even be allowed to play anymore.
play basketball this year. A shortened season? Perhaps. No 2011-2012 season at all? It’s possible. At this point, it doesn’t matter if you blame David Stern, the owners, the players or even that overpaid, underperforming media machine in South Beach; with the collective bargaining agreement debate raging out of control and the NBPA union dissolved, players have begun filing antitrust suits. The situation inspires no hope for a quick resolution, so unless your NFL team is in the playoff hunt come December, you might as well watch some Canadians knocking each other around. Too bad Indianapolis doesn’t have a hockey team.
2. The NBA; because you probably won’t be watching professional basketball With the labor war getting uglier by the day, USC might be the only team getting paid to
The Return of the Prodigal Son, Sidney Crosby
I feel obligated to preface this with the full disclosure that I hate the Penguins and pretty much every cog in their organization, with very few exceptions. Sid the Kid is not one of those exceptions. Despite my disdain, I would be morally remiss were I to neglect giving credit where it’s due when it comes to his importance to the sport. He may flop on the ice like he was just shot when touched by a defender, but NBA fans tuning in in lieu of their 2011-12 season will feel right at home. Soccer fans will be comfortable with it, too. That being said, the fact that he is the best in the game brings positive attention to the sport, and I’m proof of that, having watched his return game against the Islanders after nearly a year without playing solely to see how he performed. Two goals and a pair of assists? Like him or not, the Kid is back.