But first things first. However laughable, the over-abused notion that 30 percent of the world’s art works are located in Florence suggests at least that your EXiled self need not necessarily join the crowds queuing to see Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery or Botticelli’s Venus at the Uffizi in order to enjoy some first-class art here. One obvious example springs to mind: hidden in a tiny, tucked-away old piazza halfway between the Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio, the Santo Stefano al Ponte Museum of Sacred Art is so little in demand that admission is free and it only opens on Friday afternoons. Yet, inside you can find works by the likes of Giotto, Paolo Uccello and Masolino! This and many other hidden gems in and around town are listed in the ‘Small but great’ museums directory at http://www.piccoligrandimusei.it, while a comprehensive list of peaceful yet art-studded parks and gardens is available at http://www.cultura.toscana.it/architetture/giardini/firenze/index.shtml.
As you may have heard, there is even a psychosomatic medical condition caused by overEXposure to Florentine art: it is called “Stendhal syndrome” after the oponymous 19th century French writer who first described it during his 1817 visit to Florence. The symptoms are rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations. So in case you sometimes find yourself overwhelmed with grief, pretending to be art-struck can come in handy for an excuse.
Still, this can only provide a temporary solution; so you might want to search for a long-term way out of your mental loops by EXpressing – and overcoming – your frustrations under the guidance of Bernadette van Boxel and Bert Schmitz, who offer holistic workshops in meditation and energy awareness in their BodyMindFulness practice (http://www.bodymindfulness.com) set in the hills of Grassina. There is a choice of evening programmes, weekend workshops or even weeklong retreats, and individual sessions are also offered.
In spite of its name, the Teatro del Sale off the Sant’Ambrogio market is not a regular theatre, but rather a club and cultural hub where members can enjoy good food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and a selection of live shows. It will discreetly accommodate for your swinging moods and needs to EXorcise the past. Check http://www.teatrodelsale.com for details.
Florence boasts several dozen institutions providing full and part time classes of all sorts, in a variety of languages and for all pockets. As a consequence, you can take your pick to EXplore new horizons by any medium from food (http://www.apicius.com) to the theatre (http://www.florencetheatre.com) or fashion (http://www.polimoda.it).
If however you want a crash course in… – well, shall we call it “looking at things from a novel perspective”? – then I strongly advise you to consider joining an EXhilarating early-morning hot-air balloon flight over the breathtaking Chianti countryside between Florence and Siena. It’s an unforgettable EXperience so don’t forget your camera (with plenty of film or storage memory!) for stunning pictures that you’ll never tire of showing around. Info and bookings through http://www.balloonintuscany.com.
If you are looking to relax after the EXcitement, on the way back into town from the Chianti area you’ll find a conveniently located, well established city spa where you can EXhale is Fonbliù (http://www.fonbliu.com) just outside Porta Romana (the southern gate in the old city walls), where you can choose from a variety of beauty and wellness therapies including wine, cocoa and green coffee treatments!
A trueborn Florentine and inveterate Anglophile, Maddalena Delli is a freelance writer and translator specializing in the arts, travel, lifestyle and environment. A qualified member of the Italian journalists’ guild, she has also been writing for the web for ten years and is the mind behind some award-winning web sites. She is always on the lookout for projects that allow scope for some lateral thinking and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org