Sunday, August 1, 2010

Stile Liberty in Florence

Ever since we got back from Barcelona last December, I've been meaning to go around Florence in search of the art nouveau buildings here. While there isn't such an abundance as in Barcelona, they do exist, albeit a bit outside the Renaissance center. In Italy, art nouveau is called 'Stile Liberty', after an English magazine which sold exotic artifacts.
Today, while Kristen is still in the USA, I took my bike and rode around the town in discovery of some hidden gems. First stop: the Russian Orthodox Church in viale Leone X, built between 1899 and 1903 from plans by the architect Michail Préobraženskij.
I had never imagined that there could be a Russian church in Florence, let alone one that's so attractive. Unfortunately, it was closed, so I couldn't go inside, but from some pictures on the internet, it looks very nice as well. Maybe one of these days we'll call the church to make an appointment to visit. From there, it wasn't far to the Giardino dell'Orticultura, with its Tepidarium built in 1880 by Giacomo Roster.
Apparently, in the summer you can go inside to have tea with butterflies. (I'm guessing that means there are butterflies around while you have tea...) We'll certainly have to do that when Kristen is back. Staying on the outskirts, I made my way to via dei Della Robbia, where Villa Ciuti is squeezed in between other, blander, apartment houses.
I guess they don't get too many visitors, because a lady came out as I was looking at the house and taking pictures and asked me if I was looking for something. Now heading towards the eastern part of town, I biked to via Scipione Ammirato, where there were two houses next to each other by Giovanni Michelazzi, probably the most important Stile Liberty architect in Florence, who was active between 1902 and 1915.
Here you can see Villino Broggi Caraceni, probably the most unconventional of the buildings I saw today. After a quick refreshment of gelato, I biked along the Arno to the Ognissanti church (which is definitely not art nouveau), a few paces away from which is the Casa-galleria Vichi, also by Michelazzi.
It's quite the contrast, and looks fairly normal from street level. I imagine hundreds of tourists walk by every day without noticing the beautiful building they could see if they looked up. I know I've been by there several times without noticing it. For my final stop I crossed the river and made my way to a residential area to via Giano della Bella and the two Villini Lampredi, again by Michelazzi.
This is the one at number 13. Both are a bit more conventional than the ones I saw earlier, but beautiful nonetheless. I then made my way home, convinced that I had seen a part of Florence that not that many other people even take notice of. It's certainly worth searching out at least some of these buildings next time you're in Florence, though.


Anonymous said...

These buildings are fascinating--and beautiful! Art Nouveau is one of my favorite styles, so it was a great pleasure to read your commentary and see the photos.

Mary M said...

What a discovery as I learn to google more! I LOVE these buildings and,as a retired teacher of Italian with dozens of visits to Florence behind me, I am astonished at failing to notice them. Thank you very much also for exquisite well-composed photos. You would of course find the church open on a Sunday!
Mary Jones Aug 25.2011