Sunday, September 16, 2007

A week in the life

Monday: Alexandra Lawrence walked into the office of The Florentine to begin her job as managing editor. After 2 hours, she was up to speed and I knew that my prayers had been answered.

Tuesday: We're working on a special issue for the 90th Anniversary of the British Institute in Florence. Vanessa Hall Smith, the director and Deirdre Pirro, who will edit the edition came to the office. They have been working on the content all summer. My job is to keep it interesting, readable....sexy!! I'm excited by their progress.
Left the office to go to Villa la Pietra to see the film, Empire 2 by Amos Po. It had won a place at the Venice film festival and Ellen Toscano invited Amos to screen the film at the Villa before heading back for among others, the Tribeca film festival. Quite the 'avant-garde' film. Three hours of footage of the Empire State Building shot from the director's apartment window. When introducing the film, Amos said something I had never heard before: 'Please leave on your cell phones.' He also instructed us to walk around, talk, eat, which he did himself. He told me that he had set up the camera to film 24 hours a day for one year. I asked him how he could edit that much footage. He told me he didn't edit. 'I simply asked my computer to squeeze it by 2000x....and it got shrunk, and speeded up, ending up with 3 hours.
I actually enjoyed what he called, 'my poem to New York.' I especially enjoyed speaking with Amos, sweet gracious without an ounce of pretense.

Wednesday: Alex and I have been meeting with interns and program directors from the different universities here in Florence. We've had interns and requests to do internships since we started the paper. But given that we didn't know a thing about the newspaper business and journalism, not to mention that our office had no place for interns to sit, let alone even use their own computer, we didn't have great success. Linda Falcone took the internship program to a new level, where we not only are getting good work from the interns, but the experience is fun and valuable for them as well. Still, I start every intern meeting with the disclaimer, that we still don't have our act together, and that we aren't the New York Times.
What I can say without hesitation is that our office is the most fun place to work on earth.....not always the most productive, but definitely, the hippest place in town.

Thursday: I can't believe my life. The people I get to have 'meetings' with, are the 'who's who' of Florence. I met with the Contessa Simonetta Brandolini D'adda, director and founder of Friends of Florence to discuss some projects we are pursuing together. Then with Professor Hatfield, about a book we are publishing by him about the search for the Da Vinci painting in the Palazzo Vecchio.
Ended the day at a fashion show of Fendi furs. I'm still surprised when I am escorted to the seats reserved for the press. I used to 'pretend' I was a press person to get into such an event.

Friday: Meetings, meetings, and then I had to go out to the breathtaking Il Borro for an event to launch a children's book put out by Ferragamo. First, let me describe Il Borro. It is a medieval town that once belonged to the Savoie, the royal family of Italy. The descendant apparently kept needing to sell off parts of the village to subsidize his extravagant lifestyle. Ferruccio Ferragamo (son of Salvatore and president of the family company) was the willing buyer until he owned the entire 'borgo;.
The village includes churches, stores, a restaurant, the main villa, polo fields, and a cantina is completely and impeccably restored.
The main villa and other housing units are perfectly appointed and available for long and short term rentals. The main villa rents for 40,000 euro a week! Or can be reserved for parties, events and conferences. I have been fortunate to attend a few family parties there, and when I'm there I feel like I've stepped into a fairy tale, or 'sneaked' onto a movie set. No matter, that my hosts have always been nothing but kind and warm, I still think that I'm there under somewhat 'fraudulent' circumstances.
But I'm not complaining nor am I renouncing this behavior.