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Sabina in the Corsini Garden lemon house

text Teresa Favi
photo Andrea Dughetti

June 29, 2021

Sabina Corsini tells us about the news of the new edition of Artigianato e Palazzo

Our exclusive interview with the president of the association Giardino Corsini

Sabina Corsini is the modern-day soul of Palazzo Corsini al Prato (where her family has lived continuously since the seventeenth century) and its magnificent garden, which for twenty-seven years has hosted one of the most important annual events for Italian fine craftsmanship, Artigianato e Palazzo. For the upcoming 27th edition, scheduled for 16 - 19 September 2021, the Palazzo will also open its doors to visitors for the first time.

What surprises are in store for this year’s event?

We’re opening parts of the house the public have never seen before, like the ballroom on the ground floor, the secret places in the entrance hall and the monumental stables. Parts of the Palazzo that in past centuries were hubs of craftsmanship, mechanics and all the others who put their skill and dedication into the never-ending maintenance that continues to this day.

How much artisan attention does your home need on a daily basis?

A huge amount! From tapestries to door handles, furniture to clocks, cornices to rugs… and then there are the terracotta basins, the garden furniture! Fine craftsmanship is everywhere you look.

What do you look for in craftsmanship?  

I look for things that are beautiful and well made, things that tell a story. Sometimes it’s a long and  bumpy ride, trying every possible technique, to get the result we want.

How do you choose or commission your purchases? 

The desire to own something special is slow to mature, followed by a mixture of interference and inspiration. 

Which are the most beautiful rooms in the Palazzo, that you love the most?

The library is one of my favourite places, then there’s the yellow sitting room, where we are every day. Growing up with so many siblings, my favourite place of all was my bedroom! It was made from what was once a large cupboard, on two levels; it was like being in a boat. A little contemporary space, efficient and suitable for a growing girl; the writing desk was the centre of my world! 

What’s it like taking care of an Italian-style garden like Giardino Corsini? 

The garden is still the part of the palace that most amazes me. The gardeners are here every day, and  their work changes depending on the seasonal tasks needed. Pruning, tending the lemon trees and the flowers, restoring the stonework. 

Which are the most important plants?

In front of the lemon house there’s an ancient feijoa, an exotic tree from South America which every year is covered in flowers, much loved by the blackbirds. Under that tree there’s a table and a couple of armchairs, and that’s where I spend my summer evenings. What I love most about this garden are the smells - ever season, every month has its perfumed flower.  Even winter!

Palazzo Corsini has hosted figures like Queen Victoria and Margherita of Savoy. Which famous people have you met here?

Hospitality has always been a basic principle of my whole extended family. I never got to meet Frederick Hartt, the young American officer and art historian who attempted - along with a special corps of expert art officers - to save Italy’s cultural heritage during the Second World War. He walked in this garden with my grandmother (Princess Elena Corsini), with whom they were able to rescue all the great artworks of Florence’s museums; it’s thanks to his tireless efforts and love of art that today we have the world’s most beautiful museums! Hartt is buried in the Porte Sante Cemetery.

Outside the Palazzo, which are your favourite places in Florence?

I admire eclectic collectors, and I advise all my foreign friends not to miss the Stibbert Museum; it’s the first museum I visited as a child, and I return to it with great joy. And I have to mention the ingenious marvels of the dioramas in the Specola natural history museum, and the church of Ognissanti with Giotto’s marvellous, astonishing crucifix.

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