Leonardo Ferragamo – A Second Renaissance

Leonardo Ferragamo – Head of Associazione Partners Palazzo Strozzi – has been interviewed by Leyla Yasemin Tarhan

Jovial and warm, Leonardo Ferragamo fills a room with his energy. He gives the impression of doing several things at once without ever sacrificing the quality of his work along the way. It’s little wonder, then, that he has been at the forefront of a movement to revitalize Florence’s cultural and artistic life. In 2006, he and Jacopo Mazzei co-founded the Association Partners of the Strozzi Palace (APPS), uniting a group of private businesses operating in Florence in order to invest in Florence’s cultural future. Since the group’s initial project of re-opening the Strozzi Palace –  with help from the city’s provincial government, Comune and Chamber of Commerce – was realized with great success, the APPS has expanded into many other spheres of cultural and artistic influence. It currently invests in such organizations as the Fondazione Angeli del Bello, the Fondazione Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the public relations group Florence Discovery Experience. And, while the Strozzi Palace is now managed by its own Fondazione, the APPS continues to support its growth as well as that of various startups and charitable organizations.

Ferragamo’s efforts to rebuild Florence’s reputation as a vital hub of both historical and contemporary culture have been praised for contributing to a “new Renaissance” in the city which initiated the first one. More importantly, he says that the work of APPS has injected a new note of pride into Florentines’ view of their city. The private investors which together form the Association have been able to see their money utilized in an intelligent way, a way which has been both innovative and eye-opening in its demonstration of the necessity of private support to guard the city’s most precious treasures. And Ferragamo has no intention of stopping here: he says, “The involvement of so many has achieved much, but we have the will to grow, day after day, event after event, with the contributions of those who have already shared in our project and those who will soon join us.”

Ferragamo’s innovation reaches beyond the native population. From the beginning, he has felt a responsibility to ensure that the foreign population could integrate better into the activity of the city. He points out that Florence hosts over 50 foreign universities and cultural centers, that students attending these institutions come here because of the city’s reputation for greatness, and that he feels a duty to provide them with a wonderful experience that they will bring back to their native countries and share with their peers. He believes that the prominent presence of American schools in Florence has strengthened the bond between Italy and America, which goes back to Amerigo Vespucci. APPS offers honorary memberships to several of these institutions in an effort to attain this goal of a global network extending out from Florence.

But perhaps the most valuable effect of Ferragamo’s work has been to rejuvenate the Florentines’ vision of their city. As he points out, Florence has had the privilege of a great and innovative past. Its artisans and thinkers pioneered the modern fields of painting, architecture, sculpture, science, medicine and navigation, among others. The other cultural capitals of Europe did much to build off of this tradition, but Florence will forever hold its position as the innovator. It is this spirit of invention and originality which he now seeks to harness in an attempt to “promote art and culture for the good of Florence and those who love it.” The project which he has embarked upon has taken the city by storm and begun to build an international network of cultural interchange and investment. Leonardo Ferragamo’s energy fills not only the room but the entire city.

 

Sources: http://www.palazzostrozzi.org/Sezione.jsp?titolo=Palazzo+Strozzi+Foundation&idSezione=576

http://www.partnerspalazzostrozzi.it/index.jsp?idProgetto=1&idLinguaSito=1

http://www.partnerspalazzostrozzi.it/