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It’s a classic Sopranos family dinner table scene and the topic of discussion turns to one of cultural importance. They discuss significant Italians in their very Sopranos way, leading to this exchange: Tony: “Jesus Christ, you’d think there never was a Michelangelo. The way they treat people.” Carmella: “Did you know that an Italian invented the telephone?” AJ: ”Alexander Graham Bell was Italian?” Tony: ”You see, you see what I’m talkin’-? Antonio Meucci invented the telephone and he got robbed! Everybody knows that!” Or perhaps you remember a tidbit from The Godfather Part III when a man named Joey Zasa honored Michael Corleone with the Italian-American Man of The Year Award from the Meucci Association, only a few scenes before he attempts to kill Michael’s nephew and then Michael himself. The Meucci Association, was in fact, named in honor of Antonio Meucci. Truth regarding Meucci didn’t hit the American law books until 2002, 113 years after his death. Antonio Meucci, this man I keep mentioning, is the real inventor of the telephone. Bell? Something of a Scottish hack. The Italians always credited their own Meucci for the invention of the telephone. It took the United States over 140 years to catch up. A quick run-through before the really important stuff: Antonio Meucci was born in Florence, Italy in 1808. He met his wife, Esterre, at the theater where he worked in Florence. He would remain married to her for almost his entire life until she died. In 1834, he invented an acoustic telephone to create a line of communication between the stage and the control room. The Meucci couple then moved to Havana, Cuba as Antonio accepted a job there at the famous Teatro Tacon, later replaced by the now famous Gran Teatro de La Habana. They lived in Havana for 15 years, during which Antonio constructed a water purification system, developed a method of using electric shocks to treat illnesses and created a device that transmitted inarticulate human voice, which he called telegrafo parlante, or “talking telegraph”. Meucci’s friendship with a man named General Giuseppe Garibaldi (heard of him?) made him suspect in Cuba. At the same time, Meucci became inspired by Samuel F.B. Morse’s (the man after whom Morse Code is named) fame for his inventions in the United States. It was these two factors that pushed Meucci to pursue a move to the Red, White, and Blue. In April of 1850, the Meuccis moved to the Staten Island borough of New York City, where they would live out the rest of their lives. This humble and oft-forgotten borough would be where Antonio Meucci would go on to invent the first electromagnetic telephone. In 1856, Meucci would transmit his voice through wires in his own home so he could communicate with his sick wife from another room in the house. He would go on to create 30 more types of telephones based on that original prototype, displaying them in his neighborhood when they were ready to be showcased. Now this is where things take a turn: Meucci reported that the laboratory he worked in lost all of his working telephone models. They were never found. But as “luck” would have it, Alexander Graham Bell worked in the same laboratory. Later, due to some fraudulent debtors, the Meuccis went bankrupt and fell into poverty. Esterre sold most of Antonio’s prototypes so the couple could make enough to get by. They were so poor at one point that Antonio couldn’t even pay 10 US dollars to reinstate his temporary patent, otherwise known as a caveat, on his electromagnetic voice transmission device, or “telephone”. This is the precise moment when Alexander Graham Bell swooped in and tore the telephone right out of Meucci’s authentic Italian hands. Bell patented the telephone for himself and has been credited for its invention in many countries ever since. Meucci would take Bell to court for fraud and for stealing his invention. Bell’s defense would argue that Meucci never actually mentioned anything specifically about “electromagnetic voice transmission”, the subject of Bell’s patent. The defense was technically correct: Meucci failed to state in his patent caveat that his telephone’s main function was to transmit voice electromagnetically. This was probably due to the fact that Meucci spoke almost no English, combined with his lack of solid legal counsel and capable translators. Meucci would fight this case all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, gradually gaining momentum. As soon as it looked like he could actually win, he died…and the case with him. Four years later, Bell’s patent would expire and all hope was lost for justice for Meucci. Or was it? 113 years later, in 2002, the United States House of Representatives would pass “United States HRes. 269 on Antonio Meucci”, which stated in its preamble that, “if Meucci had been able to pay the 10 dollar fee to maintain the caveat after 1874, no patent could have been issued to Bell”. However, this resolution did not annul or modify …
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Grand Tourismo is the name of the newest exhibition at the Uffizi Gallery, inaugurated on July 30 and running until October 14. The show is the brainchild of Giacomo Zaganelli, who worked in collaboration with the Uffizi Galleries to install three videos made by the Florentine artist in room 56 on the first floor of the museum. The videos, titled Illusion, Everywhere but nowhere and Uffizi Oggi, invite views to reflect on the state of tourism today and the experiences that go along with it, including, most pointedly, our increasing need to filter the works of art we see through the lens of our smartphones, cameras and video cameras. In Illusion, the streets of the historic centre become witnesses to the mechanical and redundant nature of taking photographs; Everywhere but nowhere is set in Palazzo Strozzi, a stage for the uncontrollable use of electronic devices; and Uffizi oggi is considered the defining element of the project, filmed on an ordinary Sunday morning, capturing what happens day after day when tourists find themselves in front of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and other masterpieces. Director of the Uffizi Galleries and curator of the exhibition, along with Chiara Toti, Eike Schmidt remarked, “With the technological innovations of the recent decades, especially widespread digital photography, the use of the museum has been greatly transformed. The amount of reproductions of the artworks in our collections continues to grow exponentially, modifying the perception of them; even the behaviour displayed by visitors, a collector of their own images, has been fundamentally altered. Focusing on a reflection inside the Uffizi, particularly its busiest room, where Botticelli’s paintings are kept, Giacomo Zaganelli’s interpretation has allowed us to place attention on the phenomenon that, changing the rapport between spectator and artwork, forces us to reconsider the role of the museum.” By placing the exhibition in room 56, a crossroads of sorts in the centre of the museum, visitors can reflect on what they’ve experienced up until that point, offering a perspective that can trigger unexpected considerations in a public that, naturally, ranges a variety of ages and origins. The post Grand Tourismo at the Uffizi Gallery appeared first on The Florentine. Samantha Vaughn . . . #firenzerentals #touristapartments #florenceitaly #tuscany www.firenzerentals.com
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The City of Florence has passed a municipal bill aimed at improving the safety of its streets and squares. “Piazze vivibili” (livable squares) is the name of the ruling, which has provided the city police with the manpower required to enforce law and order in troublesome neighbourhoods. About 100 officers are conducting spot checks in the via Galliano gardens in Quartiere 1; the Parterre area, including piazza della Libertà, in Quartiere 2; via Reims (the part by the church, theatre and park), piazza Bartali and piazza Artusi in Quartiere 3; piazza Pier Vettori in Quartiere 4; and the public gardens between via Allori and via Baracca in Quartiere 5. Outlawed conduct includes large groups loitering, eating and drinking in the afore-stated areas. The church steps of piazza Santo Spirito will be subject to checks with no groups, residents and tourists alike, allowed to loiter on the basilica’s steps between 10pm and 2am. Conduct that does not usually constitute an offence, such as loitering while drinking alcoholic beverages, is deemed critical to public safety and the city’s liveability in these areas, hence the ban. Failure to comply with the new regulation will result in being charged and running the risk of a fine of up to 206 euro or three months imprisonment, in accordance with Article 650 of the criminal code. The post Loitering law enforced around Florence appeared first on The Florentine. Editorial Staff . . . #firenzerentals #touristapartments #florenceitaly #tuscany www.firenzerentals.com
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Porta San Giorgio is set to undergo restoration soon, part of a wider project involving the renovation of Florence’s medieval walls, which has already included work on Porta al Prato, Porta San Frediano, Porta alla Croce, the Serpe, San Niccolò and Zecca towers and the bastions at Forte di Belvedere. The work is expected to last seven months, costing 250,000 euro of the 5,200,000 euro set aside for the city-wide project. Ph. sailko Porta San Giorgio was built in 1324 with a design attributed to Andrea Orcagna. Over the centuries, the structure experienced a number of transformations, including in 1528, when Michelangelo was tasked with lowering the gate and the adjacent walls so they could be less vulnerable to canon fire during the siege of Florence. Fortunately, the gate wasn’t demolished in the 19th century when Giuseppe Poggi restyled the city ahead of its turn as capital of a newly-unified Italy, but it was enlarged in the 1930s by the architect Ezio Zalaffi, its 16th-century rusticated inner door being knocked down in the process. The gate has long suffered from atmospheric pollution, so the restoration will include conservative measures for its pietra forte surface, as well as some stretches of the walls immediately adjacent, and strengthening the segmental arch. The work will also comprise a thorough cleaning and removal of the plants that have grown on the gate over the years, verifying the stability of its upper parts, reinforcing elements that have become detached and implementing a system to prevent birds from nesting underneath the roof. The post Porta San Giorgio to be restored appeared first on The Florentine. Editorial Staff . . . #firenzerentals #touristapartments #florenceitaly #tuscany www.firenzerentals.com
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