This weekend I had the chance to check out some really interesting conferences and discussions regarding cultural heritage & cooperative tourism in Florence and Tuscany. Living in a city as historical as Florence, you can’t help but be touched by the effect that our cities history, culture and art has on tourists and there is never a day that I walk in front of the Duomo without spotting someone staring in amazement at such an incredible focul point in our city. The Florens2012 organization did a good job of creating a buzz using the olive trees, art installation in Piazza Santa Croce along with the cool ‘espresso cup’ display above in Palazzo vecchio. It really makes you want take a deeper glance and learn more.
I recently wrote about discovering my own inner tourist recently when I had relatives visit last month so when the Florens2012 events started taking place this past week – I made sure attend at least one. T-man, my friend Megan and I decided to attend the roundtable discussion at the Bargello Museum on Friday afternoon.
The discussion itself was led by Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda and organized by the Friends of Florence Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit established in 1998 to preserve and enhance the important cultural and historic artworks throughout Florence and Tuscany. The speakers included speakers Ermelinda Campani – director of Stanford University in Florence; Francesca Baldry – New York University Villa La Pietra in Florence; and Federico Moro – senior advisor on International Affairs at the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights in Florence. Federico noted how transparent non-profits in the USA usually are – contrary to similar organizations here in Italy. Also he brought up the point that in the US, charitable donations that be deducted in tax forms while in Italy they cannot.
Some of the projects that A Friend in Florence are most famous for include the funding for restoration of Ghiberti’s ‘Gates of Paradise’ in the Baptistry and the restoriation of The Tribune collection in the Uffizi Gallery – which is the Friends of Florence’s 10th Anniversary Project. They are also involved in a project in correlation with the National Geographic Leonardo da Vinci search in Palazzo Vecchio’s famous Sala dei Cinquecento.
What stood out to be was how much people truly invest and work together to preserve art in another country, which is incredibly noble. The preservation of art & cultural heritage is extremely important to Italy (and the world). Art is a sustainable eco-friendly driver of tourism and of the telling of history in Italy itself.
Along with art preservation – these organizations, including the universities, really seem to make a strong effort to have their students work together in the local community which I think is fundamental when it comes to student integration.
Fun fact: studying here can perhaps even make you a superstar (jazz hands), we learned that the founder of Instagram himself studied abroad via Stanford in Florence.
Moving on always on the subject of tourism in Italy. I had the awesome opportunity to meet with Italian bloggers on Saturday for lunch to talk about the idea of cooperative tourism in Tuscany and specifically learn more about the BITAC organization – the Italian Workshop for Cooperative and Associative Tourism. They are looking to create a sort of specialized itinerary for travelers to discover Tuscany in a unique way and by using the cooperation of local businesses. They believe in a cooperative – social and responsable type of tourism, not only in Italy but also in Europe. We met in front of the Palago di Parte Guelfa and headed to Osteria dell Porcellino for lunch and a group discussion.
I really love going to these events because there is nothing better than talking to people who are super passionate about what they love, whether it be food – tourism or blogging, usually it’s a great group of individuals sharing ideas. Plus everyone compliments my Italian (score!) and gets a kick out of me being from Texas which is always amusing.
We headed back to the conference in the Palagio di Parte Guelfa where I got a sneak peek at a beautiful fresco from the 14th century hidden behind a protective door in the hallway. Just another reason to revel in the beauty of such a historic place being used for cool events like these conferences, go Florence!
After drinking a 3rd coffee – I was flying high via caffeine on Saturday, we headed into the conference room where they explained more about the organization and what they were trying to achieve.
I couldn’t stay the entire time but from what I gathered this future cultural itinerary will exist to not just to provide economic gains for the restaurants/hotels/local businesses involved but rather create an organized collaborative effort to help a ‘culture tourist’ get the best out of their vacation and truly have a unique experience. I would certainly be interested in that kind of tourism, and I will definitely be on the lookout for developments on this project.
So as you can see, no lazy weekend for this girl – along with these extremely cool events, I had a friend’s birthday party to shop for and a house to tidy up. Next week I have another birthday dinner, am international aperitivo, new work project, and a trip to Rome for our fall ‘Insiders abroad’ cocktail party on Thursday, November 15th. If you happen to be in Rome, stop by and say hi! Open bar and great food – need I say more?