Maurizio Prato

Università degli Studi di Trieste, Trst, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

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Publications (601)3662.04 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Surface tunability and their ability to translocate plasma membranes make chemically functionalized carbon nanotubes (f-CNTs) promising intracellular delivery systems for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes in the central nervous system (CNS). The present study aimed to determine the biological impact of different types of multi-walled CNTs (MWNTs) on primary neuronal and glial cell populations isolated from foetal rat frontal cortex (FCO) and striatum (ST). Neurons from both brain regions were generally not affected by exposure to MWNTs as determined by a modified LDH assay. In contrast, the viability of mixed glia was reduced in ST-derived mixed glial cultures, but not in FCO-derived ones. Cytotoxicity was independent of MWNT type or dose, suggesting an inherent sensitivity to CNTs. Characterization of the cell populations in mixed glial cultures prior to nanotube exposure showed higher number of CD11b/c positive cells in the ST-derived mixed glial cultures. After exposure to MWNTs, CNT were uptaken more effectively by CD11b/c positive cells (microglia), compared to GFAP positive cells (astrocytes). When exposed to conditioned media from microglia enriched cultures exposed to MWNTs, ST-derived glial cultures secreted more NO than FCO-derived cells. These results suggested that the more significant cytotoxic response obtained from ST-derived mixed glia cultures was related to the higher number of microglial cells in this brain region. Our findings emphasize the role that resident macrophages of the CNS play in response to nanomaterials and the need to thoroughly investigate the brain region-specific effects towards designing implantable devices or delivery systems to the CNS.
    ACS Nano 06/2015; DOI:10.1021/acsnano.5b02358 · 12.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Polo-Like Kinase (PLK1) has been identified as a potential target in cancer gene therapy via chemical or genetic inhibitory approaches. The biomedical applications of chemically functionalized carbon nanotubes (f-CNTs) in cancer therapy have been studied due to their ability to efficiently deliver siRNA intracellularly. In this study, we established the capacity of cationic MWNT-NH3+ to deliver the apoptotic siRNA against PLK1 (siPLK1) in Calu6 tumor xenografts by direct intratumoural injections. A direct comparison with cationic liposomes was made. This study validates the PLK1 gene as a potential target in cancer gene therapy including lung cancer, as demonstrated by the therapeutic efficacy of siPLK1:MWNT-NH3+ complexes and their ability to significantly improve animal survival. Biological analysis of the siPLK1:MWNT-NH3+ treated tumors by RT-PCR and Western blot, in addition to TUNEL staining confirmed the biological functionality of the siRNA intratumourally, suggesting that tumor eradication was due to PLK1 knockdown. Furthermore, by using a fluorescently labelled, non-coding siRNA sequence complexed with MWNT-NH3+, we established for the first time that the improved therapeutic efficacy observed in f-CNT-based siRNA delivery is directly proportional to the enhanced siRNA retention in the solid tumor and subsequent uptake by tumor cells after local administration in vivo.
    Bioconjugate Chemistry 06/2015; DOI:10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.5b00249 · 4.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We demonstrate a unique route towards hierarchical assemblies of mesoporous TiO2 and CNT/TiO2 photocatalysts by a combination of electrospinning and sol-gel methods. The resulting materials exhibit a mesoporous network of highly crystalline, well-connected inorganic nanocrystals with an order of magnitude higher photocatalytic activity than individualised TiO2 nanoparticles. The in-situ combination of small amounts of MWCNTs with TiO2 to form an electrospun CNT/TiO2 hybrid further enhanced the oxide photoactivity considerably, reaching hydrogen evolution rates of 1218 μmol/h in water splitting in the presence of sacrificial reagents under UV irradiation. We also discuss the effect of oxygen vacancies on the oxide crystallisation and phase transformation. These vacancies lead to inter-bandgap states and a lower flat band potential that facilitates the photocatalytic process.
    Applied Catalysis B Environmental 06/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.apcatb.2015.05.052 · 6.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Carbon nanotubes have emerged as unique carbon allotropes that bear very interesting prospects in catalysis. Their use is mostly related to that of support for inorganic metal catalysts, including molecular catalysts, metal nanoparticles, metal oxides or even more complex hierarchical hybrids. However, several reports have shown that they can intriguingly act as metal-free catalysts, with performances often superior to those of other carbon materials, in particular when ad hoc organic functional groups are attached prior to the catalytic screening. The range of catalytic reactions is quite wide, and it incorporates standard organic synthesis, electrocatalysis, photocatalysis as well as other important industrial processes. In the last few years, the energy sector has acquired a dominant role as one of the most sought after fields of application, given its ever-increasing importance in society.
    05/2015; DOI:10.1039/C5CY00651A
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    ABSTRACT: We describe the formation of charge-transfer complexes that feature electron-donating carbon nanodots (CND) and electron-accepting perylenediimides (PDI). The functionalities of PDIs have been selected to complement those of CNDs in terms of electrostatic and π-stacking interactions based on oppositely charged ionic head groups and extended π-systems, respectively. Importantly, the contributions from electrostatic interactions were confirmed in reference experiments, in which stronger interactions were found for PDIs that feature positively rather than negatively charged head groups. The electronic interactions between the components in the ground and excited state were characterized in complementary absorption and fluorescence titration assays that suggest charge-transfer interactions in both states with binding constants on the order of 8×10(4) M(-1) (25 L g(-1) ). Selective excitation of the two components in ultrafast pump probe experiments gave a 210 ps lived charge-separated state. © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition 05/2015; 54(28). DOI:10.1002/anie.201502482 · 11.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Wir beschreiben die Bildung eines Ladungstransferkomplexes mit elektronendonierenden Kohlenstoff-Nanopunkten (CNDs; carbon nanodots) und Perylendiimiden (PDIs) als Elektronenakzeptoren. Die Funktionalisierung der PDIs wurde so gewählt, dass sie mit den CNDs sowohl elektrostatisch durch gegensätzlich geladene Kopfgruppen als auch durch π-π-Stapelung über ausgedehnte π-Systeme in Wechselwirkung treten können. Der Beitrag der elektrostatischen Wechselwirkungen wurde durch Referenzexperimente bestätigt, in denen weniger starke Wechselwirkungen mit negativ geladenen PDI-Kopfgruppen gefunden wurden als bei den gleichen PDIs mit positiv geladenen Kopfgruppen. Die elektronischen Wechselwirkungen zwischen den beiden Komponenten wurden im Grundzustand und im angeregten Zustand durch komplementäre Absorptions- und Fluoreszenztitrationsexperimente mit Bindungskonstanten in der Größenordnung von 8×104 M−1 (25 L g−1) quantifiziert. Die Untersuchungen wurden durch selektive Anregung der beiden Komponenten in ultraschnellen Pump-Probe-Experimenten abgerundet, bei denen ein ladungsgetrennter Zustand mit 210 ps nachgewiesen wurde.
    Angewandte Chemie 05/2015; DOI:10.1002/ange.201502482
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    ABSTRACT: Considerable progress in the synthesis and technology of hydrogels makes these materials attractive structures for designing controlled-release drug delivery systems. In particular, this review highlights the latest advances in nanocomposite hydrogels as drug delivery vehicles. The inclusion/incorporation of nanoparticles in three dimensional polymeric structures is an innovative means for obtaining multicomponent systems with diverse functionality within a hybrid hydrogel network. Nanoparticle-hydrogel combination adds synergistic benefits to the new 3D structures. Nanogels as carriers for cancer therapy and injectable gels with improved self-healing properties have also been described as new nanocomposite systems.
    ACS Nano 05/2015; 9(5). DOI:10.1021/acsnano.5b01433 · 12.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To recreate in vitro 3D neuronal circuits will ultimately increase the relevance of results from cultured to whole-brain networks and will promote enabling technologies for neuro-engineering applications. Here we fabricate novel elastomeric scaffolds able to instruct 3D growth of living primary neurons. Such systems allow investigating the emerging activity, in terms of calcium signals, of small clusters of neurons as a function of the interplay between the 2D or 3D architectures and network dynamics. We report the ability of 3D geometry to improve functional organization and synchronization in small neuronal assemblies. We propose a mathematical modelling of network dynamics that supports such a result. Entrapping carbon nanotubes in the scaffolds remarkably boosted synaptic activity, thus allowing for the first time to exploit nanomaterial/cell interfacing in 3D growth support. Our 3D system represents a simple and reliable construct, able to improve the complexity of current tissue culture models. M odern neuroscience increasingly relies on material science tools to engineer 3D neuronal network models in vitro 1–4. Most studies in this area are dedicated to the fabrication of biocompatible supports able to guide stem cell differentiation and growth into organized neuronal circuits 5,6. In a parallel approach, growth supports are also engineered to obtain in vitro neural circuits, build up by primary brain cells, displaying a genuine 3D architecture. Allowing neurons to reconstruct synaptic networks in appropriate space coordinates and in the presence of homeostatic abilities expressed by neuroglia in the third-dimension may provide crucial insights into central nervous system (CNS) multilevel integration of signals in health and disease 1–4. This promoted the emergence of a new generation of culture models aimed at mimicking tissue complexity in vitro, in particular 3D neuronal arborisation. For example, 3D cultures were developed by growing dissociated primary neurons on combined tiers of silica beads, used as cell growth surfaces 3. In these systems the bottom layer of neurons was further interfaced to a 2D microelectrode array (MEA) to infer the impact of the multiple layers of interconnected neurons on the firing activity of the recorded cells 7
    Scientific Reports 04/2015; 5. DOI:10.1038/srep09562 · 5.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report a facile approach for the in-situ synthesis of very small iron oxide nanoparticles on the surface of high-quality graphene sheets. Our synthetic strategy involved the direct, liquid-phase exfoliation of highly crystalline graphite (avoiding any oxidation treatment) and the subsequent chemical functionalization of the graphene sheets via the well-established 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction. The resulting graphene derivatives were employed for the immobilization of the nanoparticle precursor (Fe cations) at the introduced organic groups by a modified wet-impregnation method, followed by interaction with acetic acid vapours. The final graphene-iron oxide hybrid material was achieved by heating (calcination) in an inert atmosphere. Characterization by X-ray diffraction, transmission electron and atomic force microscopy, Raman and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy gave evidence for the formation of rather small (<12 nm), spherical, magnetite-rich nanoparticles which were evenly distributed on the surface of few-layer (<1.2 nm thick) graphene. Due to the presence of the iron oxide nanoparticles, the hybrid material showed a superparamagnetic behaviour at room temperature.
    Nanoscale 04/2015; 7(19). DOI:10.1039/C5NR00765H · 6.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: [(N,N'-Bis(2-(trimethylammonium)ethylene) perylene 3,4,9,10-tetracarboxylic acid bisimide)(PF6)2] (1) was observed to spontaneously adsorb on nanocrystalline WO3 surfaces via aggregation/hydrophobic forces. Under visible irradiation (λ > 435 nm), the excited state of 1 underwent oxidative quenching by electron injection (kinj > 10(8) s(-1)) to WO3, leaving a strongly positive hole (Eox ≈ 1.7 V vs SCE), which allows to drive demanding photo-oxidation reactions in photoelectrochemical cells (PECs). The casting of IrO2 nanoparticles (NPs), acting as water oxidation catalysts (WOCs) on the sensitized electrodes, led to a 4-fold enhancement in photoanodic current, consistent with hole transfer from oxidized dye to IrO2 occurring on the microsecond time scale. Once the interaction of the sensitizer with suitable WOCs is optimized, 1/WO3 photoanodes may hold potentialities for the straightforward building of molecular level devices for solar fuel production.
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 04/2015; 137(14). DOI:10.1021/jacs.5b01519 · 11.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An efficient method is presented for preparing hierarchical catalysts composed of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and Pd@CeO2 core-shell nanoparticles. These materials were then examined for the water gas shift reaction (WGSR), which demonstrated intimate contact between the constituent parts. The integration of the carbonaceous support improves the stability of the nanoparticles by ordering the dispersion of the inorganic phase and increases the activity by suppressing the deactivation of the active phase that is commonly observed in conventional Pd-CeO2 under reducing conditions, e.g. WGSR conditions. An optimum MWCNTs:Pd@CeO2 ratio exists that affords totally homogeneous structures and provides the best catalytic properties.
    Catalysis Today 04/2015; 253. DOI:10.1016/j.cattod.2015.03.032 · 3.31 Impact Factor
  • Journal of the American College of Cardiology 03/2015; 65(10):A960. DOI:10.1016/S0735-1097(15)60960-3 · 15.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Control over chemical functionalization is a crucial point in the field of nanotechnology. Herein we present the covalent functionalization of several Carbon Nanoforms (Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes, Double Walled Carbon Nanotubes, Multi Walled Carbon Nanotubes and Carbon Nanohorns) by means of diphenyl dichalchogenides. These ones show different reactivity with the Nanomaterials and are able to modify their electronic properties depending on the electronegativity of the functionalizing heteroatom. Theoretical calculations were also performed to support the experimental results. All the modified structured nanocarbons were thoroughly characterized by means of TGA Raman, XPS, UV-vis/nIR, IR and TEM techniques. Our findings propose a simple approach to functionalize Carbon Nanomaterials and, in the meantime, to tune their electronic properties.
    Nanoscale 02/2015; 7(14). DOI:10.1039/C4NR07196D · 6.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Carbon nanotubes have attracted particular attention in antiviral therapy and recently have been explored as HIV inhibitors through structure-based design. In order to prove their in vitro ability to interact with viral enzymes and to act as HIV inhibitors, we have studied the antiviral potentiality of highly hydrophilic and dispersible carboxylated multi-walled carbon nanotubes (ox-MWCNT) and the activity exerted by the same nanomaterial bearing antiretroviral drugs and hydrophilic functionalities. The antiretroviral drugs chosen for this study were two newly synthesized benzimidazolones, CHI360 and CHI415, belonging to a series of active non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (RTI), and lamivudine (3TC), a known antiretroviral nucleoside agent, currently used in anti-HIV therapy. From this study, the physicochemical properties of these nanomaterials, namely hydrophilicity and dispersibility, emerged as the most relevant features able to control the antiviral activity. The more hydrophilic and dispersible oxidized samples, ox-MWCNT and MWCNT-C-CHI360, showed the best results with IC50 values of 11.43 mu g/mL and 4.56 mu g/mL, respectively.
    Carbon 02/2015; 82:548-561. DOI:10.1016/j.carbon.2014.11.007 · 6.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One important strategy to develop effective anticancer agents is based on natural products. Many active phytochemicals are in human clinical trials and have been used for a long time, alone and in association with conventional anticancer drugs, for the treatment of various types of cancers. A great number of in vitro, in vivo and clinical reports document the multi-target anticancer activities of isothiocyanates and of compounds characterized by a naphthalenetetracarboxylic diimide scaffold. In order to search for new anticancer agents with a better pharmaco-toxicological profile, we investigated hybrid compounds obtained by inserting isothiocyanate group(s) on a naphthalenetetracarboxylic diimide scaffold. Moreover, since water-soluble fullerene derivatives can cross cell membranes thus favoring the delivery of anticancer therapeutics, we explored the cytostatic and cytotoxic activity of hybrid compounds conjugated with fullerene. We studied their cytostatic and cytotoxic effects on a human T-lymphoblastoid cell line by using different flow cytometric assays. In order to better understand their pharmaco-toxicological potential, we also analyzed their genotoxicity. Our global results show that the synthesized compounds reduced significantly the viability of leukemia cells. However, the conjugation with a non-toxic vector did not increase their anticancer potential. This opens an interesting research pattern for certain fullerene properties.
    Toxins 02/2015; 7(2):535-552. DOI:10.3390/toxins7020535 · 2.48 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2015; 108(2):486a. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2014.11.2657 · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PCBM is a fullerene derivative (phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester) considered to be one of the best n-type organic semiconductors and plays a relevant role in organic photovoltaic solar cells. Much effort has been devoted to the optimization of the synthesis of PCBM derivatives. In this paper, PC61BM and PC71BM fullerene mono-adducts but also PCBM-like derivatives are successfully prepared by a one-step cyclopropanation reaction under microwave irradiation. The products are collected in good yields in short time, during which isomerization of the open [5,6] to the closed [6,6] form takes place in situ. In addition, with the use of two cycles of irradiation, a series of mixtures of bis-adduct PCBM-like derivatives were also obtained in good yields.
    European Journal of Organic Chemistry 01/2015; 2015(7). DOI:10.1002/ejoc.201403563 · 3.15 Impact Factor
  • Maurizio Prato, Silvia Marchesan
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    ABSTRACT: The combination of the very different chemical natures of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and proteins gives rise to systems with unprecedented performance, thanks to a rich pool of very diverse chemical, electronic, catalytic and biological properties. Here we review recent advances in the field, including innovative and imaginative aspects from a nanoscale point of view. The tubular nature of CNTs allows for internal protein encapsulation, but also for their external coating by protein cages, affording bottom-up ordering of molecules in hierarchical structures. To achieve such complex systems it is imperative to master the intermolecular forces between CNTs and proteins, including geometry effects (e.g. CNT diameter and curvature) and how they translate into changes of the local environment (e.g. water entropy). The type of interaction between proteins and CNTs has important consequences for the preservation of their structure and, in turn, function. This key aspect cannot be neglected during the design of their conjugation, be it covalent, non-covalent, or based on a combination of both methods. The review concludes with a brief discussion of the very many applications intended for CNT-protein systems that go across various fields of science, from industrial biocatalysis to nanomedicine, from innovative materials to biotechnological tools in molecular biology research.
    Chemical Communications 01/2015; 51(21). DOI:10.1039/C4CC09173F · 6.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Among targeted delivery systems, platforms with nanosize dimensions, such as carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) and metal nanoparticles (NPs), have shown great potential in biomedical applications. They have received considerable interest in recent years, especially with respect to their potential utilization in the field of cancer diagnosis and therapy. The multifunctionalization of nanomaterials provides opportunities to use them as multimodal agents for theranostics, a combination of therapy and diagnosis. Carbon nanotubes and graphene are within the most widely used CNMs because of their unique structural and physico-chemical properties. Their high specific surface area allows an efficient drug loading and the possibility of functionalization with various bioactive molecules. In addition, CNMs are ideal platforms for the attachment of NPs. In the biomedical field, NPs have also shown tremendous promises in drug delivery, non-invasive tumor imaging and early detection due to their optical and magnetic properties. NP/CNM hybrids not only combine the unique properties of the NPs and CNMs, but they also exhibit new properties arising from the interactions between the two entities. In this review, the preparation of CNMs conjugated to different types of metal NPs and their applications in diagnosis, imaging, therapy, and theranostics are presented.
    British Journal of Pharmacology 10/2014; DOI:10.1111/bph.12984 · 4.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Two fullerene derivatives (fullerenes 1 and 2), bearing a hydrophilic chain on the pyrrolidinic nitrogen, were developed with the aim to deliver anticancer agents to solid tumors. These two compounds showed a significantly different behaviour on human neoplastic cell lines in vitro in respect to healthy leukocytes. In particular, the pyrrolidinium ring on the fullerene carbon cage brings to a more active compound. In the present work, we describe the effects of these fullerenes on primary cultures of human monocytes and macrophages, two kinds of immune cells representing the first line of defence in the immune response to foreign materials. These compounds are not recognized by circulating monocytes while they get into macrophages. The evaluation of the pronecrotic or proapoptotic effects, analysed by means of analysis of the purinergic receptor P2X7 activation and of ROS scavenging activity, has allowed us to show that fullerene 2, but not its analogue fullerene 1, displays toxicity, even though at concentrations higher than those shown to be active on neoplastic cells.
    BioMed Research International 09/2014; 2015. DOI:10.1155/2015/915130 · 2.71 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

28k Citations
3,662.04 Total Impact Points


  • 1675–2015
    • Università degli Studi di Trieste
      • • Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences
      • • Department of Life Sciences
      Trst, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy
  • 2004–2012
    • Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
      • • Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy
      • • Institute of Physics
      • • Institute of Theoretical Physics
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
    • University of Bologna
      • "Giacomo Ciamician" Department of Chemistry CHIM
      Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • 2003–2011
    • French National Centre for Scientific Research
      • Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC)
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2010
    • University of Castilla-La Mancha
      • Departamento de Química Inorgánica, Orgánica y Bioquímica
      Ciudad Real, Castille-La Mancha, Spain
    • Consorzio Interuniversitario Nazionale per la Scienza e Tecnologia dei Materiali
      Florens, Tuscany, Italy
    • Tokyo Institute of Technology
      • Chemistry Department
      Edo, Tōkyō, Japan
  • 2001–2010
    • University of Notre Dame
      • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      South Bend, Indiana, United States
    • CUNY Graduate Center
      New York, New York, United States
  • 1993–2010
    • University of California, Santa Barbara
      • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      Santa Barbara, California, United States
  • 1984–2010
    • University of Padova
      • • Department of Chemical Sciences
      • • Department of Biomedical Sciences - DSB
      Padua, Veneto, Italy
  • 2009
    • The School of Pharmacy
      • School of Pharmacy
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
    • University of London
      • The School of Pharmacy
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2006
    • University of Patras
      • Department of Material Science
      Rhion, West Greece, Greece
  • 2005
    • Kyoto University
      • Institute for Chemical Research
      Kyoto, Kyoto-fu, Japan
  • 1992
    • Università Iuav di Venezia
      Venetia, Veneto, Italy
  • 1991–1992
    • INO - Istituto Nazionale di Ottica
      Florens, Tuscany, Italy