Magnus Gjoen | My Hometown: Florence
Editorial / Artists

Magnus Gjoen | My Hometown: Florence

1 Jun 2022

Known for his exquisite reinterpretations of classic art, Magnus Gjoen has always found inspiration in Italy. These days, he lives in the hills outside Florence – so we caught up with him to celebrate his birthday by finding out his favourite places to visit in and around the city…

View of the city of Florence dominated by the silhouette of its cathedral and Brunelleschi's dome.

View of the city of Florence dominated by the silhouette of its cathedral and Brunelleschi's dome.

Suttipong Sutiratanachai

For inspiration…

I visit the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. This museum, dedicated to Medieval and Renaissance art, has long been a personal favourite of mine. As you enter the courtyard, you are transported back to Renaissance Florence and the collection boasts masterpieces by the likes of Michelangelo and Cellini, as well as Donatello's famous 'David'.

A little known destination that I also love is Casa Buonarotti (the house of Michelangelo) which is simply divine. Apart from having some of his works displayed, complete rooms with inlaid wood panels and secret compartments make you gawp at the intricacy and beauty that his period in Italian history achieved. Another favourite is the church of Santa Croce, home to large-scale paintings by Bronzino and other masters.

The beauty of the city has often served as inspiration for the artist. Above, the courtyard of the Bargello Museum and a detail of Gjoen's edition 'We the Living Are to Blame for the Painfulness of Death'.
The beauty of the city has often served as inspiration for the artist. Above, the courtyard of the Bargello Museum and a detail of Gjoen's edition 'We the Living Are to Blame for the Painfulness of Death'.

The beauty of the city has often served as inspiration for the artist. Above, the courtyard of the Bargello Museum and a detail of Gjoen's edition 'We the Living Are to Blame for the Painfulness of Death'.

The courtyard of the Bargello Museum and the interior of Casa Buonarroti, Florence.
The courtyard of the Bargello Museum and the interior of Casa Buonarroti, Florence.

The courtyard of the Bargello Museum and the interior of Casa Buonarroti, Florence.

For the great outdoors…

I just have to step outside, as I live in Castel Ruggero in the Tuscan hillside just outside Florence. However, in the city, a stroll through the Giardino di Boboli is the perfect mix of nature and historical monuments.

Giardino di Boboli, Florence. Originally designed for the Medici family, it opened to the public in 1766.
Giardino di Boboli, Florence. Originally designed for the Medici family, it opened to the public in 1766.

Giardino di Boboli, Florence. Originally designed for the Medici family, it opened to the public in 1766.

To eat…

truffles, I go to Osteria delle tre panche. It has two restaurants in Florence, including a lovely terrace at the Hotel Hermitage. If you like truffles, this is an amazing place to have them while enjoying magnificent views over the Arno river.

Osteria delle tre panche with a view over the Arno river.

Osteria delle tre panche with a view over the Arno river.

For evenings out…

in summer, there are several different nights and pop-ups in the bars and clubs along the river. These change, but are always buzzing in the summer night heat. The best place for an aperitivo earlier in the night is Palazzo Guadagni. The loggia at the top gives you views over Piazza Santo Spirito while feeling you are back in Renaissance times.

The view from the loggia at Palazzo Guadagni, Florence.

The view from the loggia at Palazzo Guadagni, Florence.

For a day trip…

visit the Antinori winery (best booked in advance). Or do a wine tasting (which you don’t need to book) and then continue on to the Benedictine abbey of Badia a Passignano, which boasts several restaurants including the Michelin-starred 'Osteria di Passignano'. It is paramount to also visit the monastery on a guided tour with one of the monks.

Abbey and Antinori wine cellars at Badia a Passignano and the Abbey
Abbey and Antinori wine cellars at Badia a Passignano and the Abbey

Abbey and Antinori wine cellars at Badia a Passignano and the Abbey

For souvenirs…

I would head to Farmacia Santa Maria Novella – a historic perfumery/pharmacy attached to the convent of Santa Maria Novella. Founded in 1221, it’s the perfect place to find a souvenir and has everything from soaps to perfume to hand sanitisers. They’re all beautiful and meticulously packaged.

Or to buy art…

I recommend B.east Gallery. In a wonderful gallery space, it’s run by a lovely French and Australian couple and they have a knack for discovering up and coming talent as well as featuring established artists.

The historical shop of Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.
The historical shop of Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.

The historical shop of Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.

Visitors admiring Gjoen's sculpture 'Tempus Fugit' hand-made in Florence in collaboration with Baldi Jewels and artist Magnus Gjoen at the launch of the new Hang-Up Gallery space in Hoxton in 2019.
Visitors admiring Gjoen's sculpture 'Tempus Fugit' hand-made in Florence in collaboration with Baldi Jewels and artist Magnus Gjoen at the launch of the new Hang-Up Gallery space in Hoxton in 2019.

Visitors admiring Gjoen's sculpture 'Tempus Fugit' hand-made in Florence in collaboration with Baldi Jewels and artist Magnus Gjoen at the launch of the new Hang-Up Gallery space in Hoxton in 2019.

Chuck Noble

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