Florence - Habsburg and the Beauty on the Arno River

First broadcast 31.1.2022, 8.15 p.m. 3sat

Documentation, 52 min, 2021
GS-Film, ORF/3sat
Written and directed by
Björn Kölz und Gernot Stadler
Gernot Stadler
Production Management
Monika Orsini-Rosenberg
ORF Enterprise

Those who think of Florence and Tuscany hardly think of the Habsburgs first. And yet Europe’s once most powerful ruling house has also had a major impact on the destiny of Tuscany for a little more than a century. The film focuses on the period between the first half of the 18th and the second half of the 19th century and sets out in search of the traces left by the Habsburgs in Tuscany, but above all in Florence.

The Tuscan line of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine was founded by Franz Stephan of Lorraine and his wife Maria Theresia of Austria.

Their arrival in Florence is still commemorated by a mighty triumphal arch. Franz Stephan had the Grand Duchy administered by governors who came with him from Lorraine to Tuscany.

The ancestors of Alessandro Francois also settled in Tuscany out of loyalty to the Imperial House in 1740. Since the late 19th century, the family has dedicated itself to wine growing in the Chianti region around the Castello di Querceto. Alessandro Francois guides director Gernot Stadler through his vineyards and recounts the time when his ancestors were loyal servants of the Grand Dukes.

In the hills above the city – in Villa La Petraia – we meet Theresa Meran, who is a descendant of the Tuscan line of the Habsburgs. She tells of the carefree childhood days that her ancestor Archduke Johann spent there.

The noblewoman presents to us Sileno Cheloni. In his mystical laboratory old perfumes are created. He is a “Maestro del Profumo”, a “master of fragrances”.

Count Vieri Torrigiani lovingly takes care of the largest private garden in Europe, which his ancestors had built within the city walls of Florence. The Torrigiani are ancient Florentine nobility and have influenced the destiny of the city over the last centuries.

The oldest coffee house in the city is the Caffé Gilli. Founded in 1733, it soon established itself as a meeting place for aristocrats, intellectuals and artists.
Today, the “Gilli” is considered the most elegant café in Florence. The specialities of confectionery and chocolates as well as the selection of various types of coffee are unique even in Florence.