Biography and scientific path
My primary areas of research include public life in peripheries, urban design in peripheries, urban sprawl, urban fragmentation, public life of non-places, design of non-places, critical urban theory, critical planning theory, Tuscan cultural history, Tuscan landscape history, planning policies, landscape policies. My publications in these areas include three monographs, one edited book and various scholarly articles, published as journal peer-reviewed articles, as book chapters, and as peer-reviewed conference proceedings. Currently I am completing a book entitled ‘Tuscany beyond Tuscany: Reality and Myth’. I currently teach three courses in the International Curriculum on Architectural Design, the international master program on Architecture at the University of Florence: ‘Urban Design’, ‘Rethinking Non-Places’, ‘Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Urban Space’. I work as a supervisor of various master theses on the design of non-places, as well as on the design of peripheries.
I studied in Italy and completed my education through several and prolonged study and research experiences in the United States. I earned my graduate degree in Architecture at the University of Florence in 1998. The thesis was published as a monograph in the ‘Quaderni di Urbanistica’, a series of the major Italian urban planning journal. I got my phd in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Florence in 2003. My phd thesis was selected by Professor Luigi Mazza for publication in the series ‘Strumenti Urbanistici’ which he edited and which was unanimously recognized as one of the most qualified urban planning scholarly series in Italy, hosting contributions of scholars as Bernardo Secchi, Arnaldo Bagnasco, and Giuseppe Dematteis.
In 2005 I took up my position of researcher in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Florence. Since then I have been teaching classes in urban management, urban and regional analysis, urban design, rethinking non-places. In Spring 2015 I started a new course/seminar titled ‘Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Urban Space’ which has seen the participation of a wide range of both Italian and foreigner scholars, such as Prof. Medina Lansansky, Cornell University, Prof. Silvia Ross, University College Cork, Richard Ingersoll, Syracuse University, and many others (www.crossdisciplinaryurbanspace.com ).
In 2006 I was invited as a visiting scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where I spent four months. In 2007 I gained a one year fellowship in urban studies at the Institute of Policy Studies, John’s Hopkins University. The fellowship research was published as a monograph in 2010. In 2012 I was invited by Prof. Margaret Crawford at UCBerkeley as a visiting scholar. In 2014 I passed the exam for the qualification to the position of associate professor.
The core of my research is centered in three strictly interrelated topics: contemporary Tuscan cultural history and landscape history, public life and urban design in peripheries, public life and urban design of non-places. My focus on critical urban theory and on critical planning theory provides as the theoretical and methodological background by which the three macro-areas are being investigated. The relationship between the aforementioned fields of inquiry is not immediate to grasp and largely depends on the way the discourse on landscape and society is structured in Tuscany and in other parts of the world.
Synthetically, the dystopian way of structuring the discourse on peripheries is as the other side of the coin of the utopian way of structuring the discourse on the country and on historical centers. In the case of Tuscany, such narratives are in my mind both historically false and politically counterproductive. If on the one hand they are letting peripheries being completely neglected, on the other hand they are letting both the Tuscan countryside and historical centers becoming sort of open-air museums devoid of any expression of everyday life, and ready to be ‘consumed’ by huge masses of tourists, as in the case of historical centers, or by wealthy international vacationers, as in the case of country real estates. Much of my research efforts are devoted to overturning such dominant and basically dualistic narratives, to unveiling alternative narratives which remained hidden due to hegemonic discourses, and to create the cultural preconditions for a better balanced development in Tuscany. This is why my research is politically engaged, although in an honest and manifest way.
Although the aforementioned narratives are structured in Tuscany in a peculiar and unique manner, they reflect similar discourses that can be found in the urban literature all over the world, both in scholarly literature and in political/journalistic literature. The discourse on sprawl in the U.S., to make an example, which I largely studied during my fellowship program at Johns Hopkins University, although with major differences, belongs to the same tradition. One of its side-effects is in my mind that of impeding to deal pragmatically and effectively with contemporary urban problems. These are among the reasons for the study of the Tuscan case has a more general interest and relevance.
Fellowship: “Progetto giovani ricercatori” [young research scholars]
Italian Minstery of Research and University
Post-doctoral fellowship in Urban Studies
University of Florence – Tuscany Region
Fellowship in Urban Studies
Institute for Policy Studies – The Johns Hopkins University
Harvard Graduate School of Design
UCBerkeley College of Environmental Design