Autumn 2017: Collecting and Creating Museums + Workshops (for families)

Autumn 2017: Collecting and Creating Museums + Workshops (for families)

Hello there!

I’m very happy to be organizing two very special events for Museums + Workshops for families coming up at the end of October and November.

The theme is 19th century ART COLLECTORS, Stefano Bardini (1836-1922) and Herbert Horne ( 1864-1916) and their collections in the center of Florence at Museo Stefano Bardini and Museo Horne, two very family friendly museums that fascinate all ages.

We will also be CREATING our own art works and books during these event, adults and kids working together with some of the best teachers and artisans around — and directly in the spaces where these masters work and create, at the historic Fondazione Il Bisonte (the image above is of their newly re-opened typography studio ) and Il Torchio with the talented owner Erin Ciulla.

Stay tuned for more details and information in the upcoming posts to follow about these very inspiring places in Florence, and in my 1st newsletter going out end of this week (see the little typewriter at the bottom of the page that will sign you up).

A presto, Molly


Mapping Florence with Kids

Mapping Florence with Kids

“While many skills have become obsolete in the digital age, map reading remains an important tool for building children’s spatial reasoning skills and helping them make sense of our world.”

(Deborah Farmer Kris in a recent PBS article “Why Children Still Need to Read (and Draw) Maps” )

It might be a fairly obvious thing that someone working in the travel industry would be interested in maps of all kinds, especially city maps. In the PBS article from the quote above there are some very useful links to books for kids on the subject. After reading this it had me thinking even more about maps of Italian cities.

I admit, only after having lived in Venice as a student and after understanding the city layout did I start actually looking more carefully at maps of it (I raise my hand here for a confession: I still get turned around in Venice at times.) In the past I was more interested in famous maps like the 16th century map by Jacopo de’ Barbari and early Renaissance cartographers. I still am. But years later working in Florence and now very often with the youngest of city explorers I see how map reading can be a fun as well as interesting and engaging tool for kids, whether travelling through or residents here.

This is where Italy for Kids maps comes in.

They are maps for kids with stickers and engaging activities by Sara Dania and Donata Pivia who are based on Milan, and illustrated by Torino based illustrator, Mattia Cerato. Miniature historical figures from Dante’s time to the present day are scattered around them in their respective spots. Even Italian actors Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi enter the map by horseback and carriage just as they entered Renaissance Florence through time travel in the famous Italian film “Non Ci Resta Che Piangere.” Here is a favorite scene (in Italian) where Troisi and Benigni write a letter to Girolamo Savonarola.

I have to say that the Italy for Kids project stole my heart at first sight when I noticed one of my favourite 20th century Italian writers, Elsa Morante, on their Rome map.. Not by chance is one of Morante’s most important works,her 1968 The World Saved By Kids (Il mondo salvato dai ragazzini)! You’ll also find astrophysicist, Margherita Hack, on the Florence map. How could I not fall in love here?

For those digital interests, another Milan based company to check out is ART STORIES for their new series of digital city maps called Cities. Visit their site for more educational apps for kids with an art focus.


SATURDAY, APRIL 16TH 3 pm – 6 pm


At the beautifully restored space, Cartavetra art gallery owned by children’s book illustrator Brunella Baldi, on Via Maggio, meet the founders of ITALY FOR KIDS, Sara Dania & Donata Pivia, who will be in Florence to present their most recent city map of Florence and speak about their Italian city maps project. You can also find all the places they are sold throughout Italy and online here. 

MAP PRESENTATION at 3 PM. This is FREE, open to the public. Following will be a brief sketching tour of the streets around Via Maggio for sketching ideas to take back to the art gallery for a map making workshop with Cartavetra’s illustrators.

30 euro per family OR 35 euro per family including the Florence map by “Italy for Kids” at a special event price.

MATERIALS: Each participant (adults as well as kids) will be given a custom made sketching booklet for the activity to take home after. Sketching materials provided by Cartavetra.

This is open to all ages, so even parents with little ones can participate because these maps are fascinating for grown ups as well we think!  There is a very useful list of family friendly museums and places on the back. The idea is to be an interesting, fun afternoon together at the beautiful and contemporary Galleria Cartavetra on Via Maggio, a gallery that now offers regular artistic workshops for all ages.

There will be refreshments and snacks suitable for kids and grown ups (as well as gluten-free snacks provided by Ristorante Quinoa gluten free restaurant in Florence, a personal favorite restaurant of mine and a very child friendly urban green space to know about in town).

For more info and to sign up for the family activity after the presentation you can write to me here: 

We hope to see you there!




Calligraphy in Florence for Families with Betty Soldi

Calligraphy in Florence for Families with Betty Soldi

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS and a few glimpses of a calligraphy workshop we held last winter that focused on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry where kids, parents and grandparents wrote, drew fragments of poems from a hat and dreamed at Sopr’Arno Suites B&B with its owner and calligrapher/graphic designer, Betty Soldi.

Enjoy a few images below and a recipe provided by food writer and cookbook author, Giulia Scarpaleggia, provided in the link of the delicious “Quaresimali” letter shaped cookies you see towards the end here. They are made only during the time of Lent in Florence, so if you see them during that time it’s hard to not try one or two!


touching ink

becky and matteo

lyall's suocera

savia 2

rebecca 2

James and REbecca









Venice’s January Light

Venice’s January Light

“…the Venetian lagoon — that terraqueous dimension dominated by a nature that is indolent and voracious.” (Alberto Toso Fei, Veneziaenigma)

There is nothing that compares to Venice the first days of January after the New Year’s crowds leave, while the university students are still away and tourism is at its lowest moment of the year. There is nothing like its nocturnal mood past midnight, or like its early morning awakening before 8 am.


venice night 1

venice night 2Passeggiata notturna 


san marco 2

SAn marco 1

Passeggiata mattutina






Pistoia chosen as Italy’s culture capital for 2017

Pistoia chosen as Italy’s culture capital for 2017

It comes as no surprise that Pistoia was chosen out of nine finalists by Italian Cultural Minister Dario Franceschini as Italy’s culture capital for the year 2017.

“Pistoia invests in culture more than double the national average.” (Samuele Bertinelli, Mayor of Pistoia)

The city will receive a one million euro investment for cultural initiatives and events in 2017.

This is an opportunity for Tuscany to start showing the world a new face that includes the whole picture about small Tuscan cities that have thriving cultural scenes and dynamic small museums, annual city events and festivals. Pistoia is the only city in Italy to hold an anthropology festival each May that involves the entire community and brings visitors and speakers from all over the world.

Pistoia, no doubt, will also reveal a side of sustainable and smart tourism in Italy that is fit for all ages.



You can read more about this news in English here.

To read more about Pistoia’s cultural side see my article from The Florentine last spring.

Here is a recent article also in The Florentine by Mary Gray and Giulia Scarpaleggia of JulsKitchen about Pistoia’s bustling Piazza della Sala.