Notte Bianca in Florence: Art attack (3 of 3)

During Notte Bianca in Florence, the streets of the Centro Storico runneth over with people. It can get tiring slogging through the mob, as you can imagine from this scene at Piazza della Signoria…

Crowd at Piazza della Signoria

… and outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of Florentine government during the Renaissance. Madness!

Crowd outside Palazzo Vecchio

At about midnight, I decided I needed a rest from the crowd and the walking. So Marlon and I sat down in front of the Palazzo Strozzi to catch a break from the hordes.

Crowd outside Palazzo Strozzi

Thus it was quite by accident that I discovered this magical sight inside the Palazzo Strozzi. If I hadn’t looked around the corner from where I was sitting, I never would have seen this. Tired as my feet were, I was drawn inside for closer look.

Aerial Boundaries by Loris Cecchini

“Aerial Boundaries” by Italian artist Loris Cecchini was an installation created especially for the courtyard of the Palazzo Strozzi for Notte Bianca.

“Through its multiple reflecting surfaces, the work of art interacts with the reality surrounding it, reflecting the image not only of the Renaissance architecture, the sky and the natural light filtering through to the courtyard, but also of the observer himself as he or she looks up.”
(via CCC Strozzina)

The juxtaposition of old and new, graceful symmetry versus irregular geometry, the serenity of the courtyard in contrast to the activity and noise outside it, made this not only a sight to behold, but an experience to savor.

Aerial Boundaries

Aerial Boundaries from the bottom up Reflections on the ground

I felt as though I’d fallen into a pocket of night sky and starlight. Like I was breathing in something pure, clean and crisp… but through my eyes. It was very hard to leave.

Aerial Boundaries detail2

I leave you these beautiful images until Monday. I hope that your weekend brings you something equally surprising, delightful, possibly even magical. Bonus points if it sparkles!

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Notte Bianca in Florence: Night Market (2 of 3)

You may have noticed that my husband and I like food. (No, really?!) We also like markets. So after getting our faces made up for Notte Bianca in Florence, it was only natural that our next stop that night would be the slow food market at the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, which was part of a slow food festival open that week only.

Food market by Santa Maria Novella

Like everything else in the Centro Storico that night, the market was throbbing with people.  It seemed that every region in Italy was represented at this small-seller market, so it was like getting a mini-culinary tour of Italy.

Notte Bianca food market at Santa Maria Novella

We walked around for a good twenty minutes, canvassing the scene before choosing what to have for dinner. I was particularly tempted by a gelato flavor I’ve only seen in Tuscany: cantuccini e vin santo, biscuits and sweet wine (which tastes like communion wine or mompo, thus the name). But I was raised not to have gelato for dinner (only for breakfast!), so I moved on.

Sandwich plates Gelato Vin Santo & Pasta di MandorlaOlives

Tuscany is serious about its meat, particularly pig… and in these parts, pig doesn’t mean cute pink farm-raised pig. It means brown, hairy, forest-roaming wild boar, or cinghiale.

Wild boar

The moment I saw a boar head nailed to one of the stands, I knew what Marlon was going to have for dinner. You don’t spend nine years together and not learn how to predict these kinds of decisions. However, he decided to go for cinghiale’s domesticated cousin instead: stinco, or pork hocks. I suspect this tempting sight reminded him of good ol’ Cebu lechon.


As for me, I decided to go for an Italian calorie bomb: Silician arancini, “oranges” stuffed with meat sauce, mozzarella and rice. I made sure to get some gelati for dessert, though.

Arancini Siciliana

These two photos pretty much sum up the kind of food choices my husband and I make. He’s savory, I’m sweet. And they also sum up how happy food and markets make us.

Happiness, his and hers

If we were less compatible in this area, we’d probably be a lot skinnier! But I wonder if we would be as happy. His-and-hers happiness, what could be better?

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White out: Notte Bianca in Florence (1 of 3)

April 30 (yes, I know it was more than a month ago!) is Queen’s Day in the Netherlands. Since we were traveling this year, I was sorry to have to miss out on oranje fever. As it turned out, Florence gave me an unforgettable replacement: Notte Bianca.

Named for the Italian expression for a sleepless night, Notte Bianca (“White Night”) is an annual event in which Italy’s biggest cities stay up till dawn to celebrate art, culture, music and food. That means partying in the streets, free concerts, free admission to museums, even free breakfast (free is good!) and general all-night awesomeness. (It apparently doesn’t mean all-white attire, although I did spot a few brave souls in white.)

Our Airbnb hosts told us about Notte Bianca when we arrived, but it took some doing to find any information on it English (grazie mille to Girl in Florence 2.0 for that). Browsing through the program, I knew instantly that I wanted our first stop to be the Casa della Creativita, where the makeup artists of the Maggio Musicale theater company were offering free makeup sessions especially for Notte Bianca.

For me, part of the fun of a special night out is getting ready for it: dressing up and putting on a face. Getting the “face” part taken care of by professional theater artists sounded absolutely fabulous!

Makeup artists at Casa della Creativita

Casa della Creativita was packed when we got there at 9 p.m. after a long evening nap (a must for this 30 year-old granny to stay out all night). About 7 or 8 makeup artists were hard at work putting whimsical touches on eager faces.

Makeup artists at work Blue stars Tools of the trade

I was impressed by how many men (real men, with motorcycles, girlfriends and all) were there to get made up. Gotta love Italian men! I think the element of masculinity made the artists’ creations look even more kick-ass.

Men's face paint for Notte Bianca Florence

My 20-minute wait flew by because it was so fascinating to watch the artists at work. Soon enough, it was my turn in the makeup seat.

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