Saturday, July 16, 2011

Allons Enfants de la Patrie....

  As editor and publisher of Tuscany's English-language magazine Vista. Florence & Tuscany, I, along with the office staff, were invited to join in the festivities of Bastille Day.  It was celebrated by the local French community in Florence at a cocktail party on July 13, the evening before
 the actual French national holiday on July 14.  

The setting for the party was Villa Finaly, located above New York University's Villa la Pietra on via Bolognese.  Photographer Elke, Natalia, and myself caught bus 25 barely in time to make the party from Piazza San Marco.  As the bus climbed the hill north of downtown Florence, we entered into an area of historic villas, private and public, with a birds-eye view of the city.  We arrived at Villa Finaly and discovered that it hosts 
the University of Paris, which attracts research scholars.

To get to the reception outside we walked through this beautiful building,  Out on the lawn, Villa Finaly's director Francoise Levert, gave a speech of welcome, first in French, then in Italian.  She was followed by Honorary French Consul Anita Dolfus, who explained, again first in French, then in Italian, that Florence's French Institute on Borgognissanti was established over 100 years ago as the oldest French cultural institution outside France.  She spoke of the Institute's notable French library, language classes, annual French film festival and piano festival as well as the new premises of the French International School in Florence.  She also revealed that she would be leaving her post in Florence and returning to France.  Is that why the resident French community (and us) were celebrating Bastille Day a day early?  We were never to find out...

     Levert's and Dolfus's speeches were followed by a heartfelt rendition of the French national anthem 
by a French chorus...

...and a rousing performance of the Italian national anthem Fratelli d'Italia by a local Florentine chorus,
La Marinella.

This, of course, was followed by a reception featuring French food and wine, 
with the accent on quiches, cheese and fruit. 

I don't know if the pink champagne that I sipped was donated by Frenchwoman Annie Feolde (in attendance) of the Enoteca Pinchiorri, but some of the bottles were.

Francoise Levert was a gracious hostess, chatting amiably in French with French residents of Florence, whom she seemed to know well.  After all she arrived at the Villa Finaly close to 10 years ago, revealing for the occasion, that, like Anita Dolfus, she too would be leaving Florence.

Viva la France!

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