Florence: timeless beauty – by Anna Balzani

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Anna Balzani, Editor-in-chief
Anna Balzani Editor-in-chief

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During a pleasant conversation with friend and Prof. Stefano U. Baldassari, Ph.D. Academic Director and Dean of Students at ISI Florence, International Studies Institute, we talked about the sense of beauty, and how it is precisely the beauty of one of the main attractions and a reason for our fascination with Florence.

Stefano explained to me a beautiful picture depicting the so-called Pianta della Catena, attributed to Francesco di Lorenzo Rosselli, painter, engraver and cartographer born in Florence in 1448, and considered the first known example in the history of cartography with the intention of representing the completeness city of Florence, with all its buildings and the dense network of streets and squares.

"Pianta della Catena" (1471) attributed to Francesco di Lorenzo Rosselli
“Pianta della Catena” (1471) attributed to Francesco di Lorenzo Rosselli

The name Pianta della Catena, dated around 1471, is due to the decorative motif that characterizes it, a closed chain with a padlock framing the plan of the city, that seems to put it under lock and key, as if to want to protect it, just as you do with a treasure valuable.
It is true that a plan of a historical city appears useful to analyze the urban development of the subject, but in our case, this refined and detailed picture of Florence, engraved on wood, even symbolically expresses its timeless beauty, a precious treasure that everyone must strive to preserve, protect from barbarism, because true beauty educates people and soothes minds.

I talked about this feeling with dear friends, who have shared with me and that’s why we thought of a new newspaper which was attended, choral and inclusive, friendly, able to focus attention on the people “can do,” on talent, the leadership skills of the people. The name also comes from this, Florence is You!, to express the sense of ownership and responsibility to the beauty of our City. We wanted to talk about those who represent Florence, those with the humility and the spirit of service in performing their work, who live and work in the city and are an expression of the high quality of this city, of its pride.

It is amazing the ability that Florence always shows in attracting people from all over the world, each in becoming an object of desire, admiration, so that the trip to Italy cannot be separated from Florence.
In October 2013, on days when we were laying out the paper, it was undertaken with a unique “challenge” between the mayors of Europe’s most courageous, a real contest of ideas for innovation launched by the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. Promoted by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, the contest puts up for grabs as much as 5 million euros for the European city which proves capable of bold and innovative ideas to solve problems of daily life in the city. The ceremony was also attended by the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, who welcomed with great enthusiasm and excitement Bloomberg’s challenge, demonstrating the international vocation of our Florence.

The invitation to the city is inevitably open to all citizens, and to all of us, to all of you who are reading now, to take part in this new challenge, each bringing their own vision, to share it with others, accepting suggestions, perspectives and new actions. There is not something to be eradicated in this branched fabric of squares and streets, but rather a meaning and a sense of belonging to rediscover and develop, together.

– Anna Balzani
Editor-in-chief

Anna Balzani

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Editor-in-chief

Da bambina sognavo di fare la giornalista e studiare fisica quantistica, poi mi sono laureata in Sociologia, soffermandomi sulle differenti tipologie di leadership attraverso le illuminanti opere di William Shakespeare. Qualche idea, però, deve essere stata ben chiara sin da allora perché la giornalista è ciò che faccio e amo fare da adulta. In qualità di Direttore artistico sono stata la prima donna ad aver diretto il Tepidarium del Roster al Giardino dell’Orticoltura di Firenze, la più grande serra in stile Liberty esistente in Italia e la più piccola d’Europa, costruita nel 1859 dall’Accademia dei Georgofili. Collaboro con gallerie e accademie d’arte, scuole, associazioni, musei, università e fondazioni, prevalentemente in Italia, Cina, Stati Uniti e Russia. Nel 2011 sono tra i fondatori dell’Associazione Acontemporaryart di cui sono Presidente; curo e organizzo esposizioni di artisti italiani e stranieri a Firenze, Roma, Venezia, Parigi, etc... Dal 2013 sono Direttore responsabile del giornale Florence is You, 20.000 copie cartacee ogni bimestre, aggiornamenti quotidiani online (www.florenceisyou.com), impostazione bilingue italiano-inglese e partners istituzionali da tutto il mondo. Nell’ottobre 2017 sono stata eletta Accademica d’Onore all’Accademia delle Arti del Disegno di Firenze, fondata nel 1563 da Giorgio Vasari e di cui Michelangelo fu primo Accademico. Volevo una macchina da scrivere americana, non una a caso, ma la Underwood, che è poi stata un regalo, decisamente degno di nota, di un fidanzato che per questo autentico merito è ora più di un fratello. Il motto preferito? Il latino “Per aspera ad astra”, ma anche il mediceo “Festina lente” come soleva dire Lorenzo il Magnifico. Anche Seneca ha dato alla mia vita il suo prezioso contributo: “Ignoranti quem portum petat nullus suus ventus est” (Lettere a Lucilio) ovvero “Non esiste vento favorevole per il marinaio che non sa a quale porto vuol approdare”. Più di un mantra, per me. Nella sostanza l’importante è avere le idee chiare e sapere cosa si vuole, da lì è tutto in discesa o, perlomeno, avremo compiuto il primo passo. Ho da sempre una passione per l’arte, pittura, scultura e fotografia espresse anche attraverso linguaggi molto diversificati, dal figurativismo di appannaggio propriamente tradizionale fino ad un lessico più astratto, a ricerche maggiormente concettuali. Scrivo di cultura, arte, cinema e viaggi, nell’ambito luxury travel e turismo enogastronomico. Sono appassionata di musica classica e jazz, con molteplici digressioni sul tema. Mi stanno molto a cuore le tematiche relative all’infanzia e all’educazione delle bambine. Amo i viaggi, anche quelli che non ho ancora fatto, la cioccolata fondente e la mia strepitosa torta di mele, ma, se devo essere sincera fino in fondo (ed ecco la nota del fashion editor che è in me), non posso vivere senza le scarpe di Manolo Blahnik, colui che più di ogni altro ha saputo amabilmente coniugare colore, seta e tacco 12.

EN

Growing up I always dreamt of becoming a journalist or studying quantum physics. I ended up graduating in Sociology and focused on the different kinds of leaderships through the enlightening works of William Shakespeare. However, I must have already had some level of clarity, as being a journalist is what I do and what I love doing. As artistic director, I have been the first woman to direct the Tepidarium del Roster at the Giardino dell’Orticoltura in Florence, the largest Liberty-style greenhouse in Italy and the smallest in Europe, built in 1859 by the Accademia dei Georgofili. I collaborate with art galleries and academies, schools, associations, museums, universities and foundations, mainly in Italy, China, the United States and Russia. In 2011, I was among the founders of the Acontemporaryart Association, of which I am now President; I curate and organize art shows by both Italian and foreign artists in Florence, Rome, Venice, Paris, etc. Since 2013, I am the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Florence is You, a bimonthly bilingual publication (Italian – English) with institutional partners from all over the world that counts 20.000 paper copiesper issue, as well as daily updates online (www.florenceisyou.com). In October 2017 I was elected Academic Honouree at the Academy of the Arts of Drawing in Florence, founded in 1563 by Giorgio Vasari, and of which Michelangelo was the first Academic. I always wanted an American typewriter, but not any ordinary one, I wanted an Underwood, which I received as a gift, greatly appreciated, from a former boyfriend, who is now more than a brother to me. My favourite motto? The Latin expression “per aspera ad astra,” but also the Medicean “Festina lente,” as said by Lorenzo the Magnificent. Seneca also gave his precious contribution to my life with his: “Ignoranti quem portum petat nullus suus ventus est” (Letters to Lucilius) or “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.” This is more than a mantra to me. Fundamentally, I believe that it’s important to have a clear mind as to what you want, then the rest is all downhill, or anyways it’s a first step. I’ve always had a passion for art, painting, sculpture and photography, expressed even through very different languages, from more traditional and figurative art to more abstract lexicons, or even conceptual researches. I write about culture, art, cinema and travel, in the fields of luxury travel and food and wine tourism. I’m passionate about classical and jazz music, with multiple digressions on the subject... Very close to my heart are issues relating to childhood and the education of little girls. I love to travel – even those trips I have yet to take – dark chocolate and my fabulous apple pie, although, if I must be entirely true (and here is the fashion editor in me), I cannot live without the shoes by Manolo Blahnik, he who more than anyone else has been able to amiably combine colour, silk and 12-inch heels.

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