The semi-residential centres L’Abbraccio, L’Aquilone (in its two locations) and L’Arcolaio are four realities that offer answers to the needs of citizens with severe and medium-severe disabilities and their relatives, who very often have to take on important and onerous family obligations. The territories involved are part of the south- east Florentine area, which includes the municipalities of Figline and Incisa Valdarno, Rignano sull’Arno, Reggello, Tavarnuzze, Impruneta, Barberino Tavarnelle and
San Casciano.
The daily commitment of the staff is entirely oriented towards developing the abilities of the children, each with their own particularities and needs. Despite the long experience and professionalism of the staff, the risk of failing to overcome the stigma of diversity is always present and perhaps even more so in recent years. These four facilities are the property of the municipalities which have delegated their management to the Azienda USL Toscana Centro and are run by social cooperatives through tenders.
The possibility of participating in the Florence Biennale is for us a great satisfaction as well as an important opportunity to “bring out” the resources of people who all too often struggle to find spaces other than their everyday ones and who run the risk of not being recognized not only as artists but also as citizens.


The socialization centre L’Abbraccio was set up in the early 1980s in Tavarnelle V.P. thanks to the will and commitment of a group of volunteers (coordinated by the Misericordia and the Municipality) with the aim of helping families in difficulty in the area who were looking after disabled people. Initially, the volunteers’ task was only to accompany the children to rehabilitation sessions, then resources were identified in the area (space, tools, voluntary and professional staff) to provide a daily assistance service, but above all an opportunity to socialize outside the family context.
In the mid-1990s, the current headquarters were inaugurated, which made it possible to accommodate requests from the adjacent municipalities and a consequent increase in the number of users, which now stands at 12 per day. It was only in the 2000s that centre took on its own identity and name: L’Abbraccio Socialization Centre. Today it is an active and well- integrated reality on the territory, thanks to collaboration projects with socio-cultural associations and some schools. Our daily commitment is to work towards greater autonomy for the children, but above all to enhance every mode of expression and communication, favouring the group dimension, as a womb of acceptance and sharing of experiences, emotions and diversity.
The principle of ‘pleasure’ is the driving force behind all the activities on offer; the body, in all its expressive potential, is the protagonist, while play is the preferred tool. For years, the working group has embraced the “Globality of Languages” as its working methodology, a discipline of communication and expression using all languages, with the aim of research, education and therapy.


The L’Aquilone centre has two locations: one in the municipality of Figline-Incisa Valdarno and the other one in the municipality of Rignano. Both were set up at the end of the 1970s with the aim of including people with various types of disabilities in a social-recreational context. In the years that followed, the facility took on a more defined and organized form, becoming a solid point of reference for families in the three municipalities of Valdarno Fiorentino: Figline-Incisa Valdarno, Reggello and Rignano sull’Arno, on behalf of which the ASL Toscana Centro manages the service.
Currently, the two facilities can accommodate a total of 30 guests aged between 18 and 65. The guests who attend the centres are severely disabled, which prevents them from entering the world of work, however protected, facilitated and regulated by current regulations. All this translates into a risk of exclusion or institutionalization, if the abilities of each person are not adequately supported, with specific interventions to promote and enhance their cognitive, operational and relational potential. To this end, the centres offer painting workshops (Art Brut), sensorial activities, crafts, cooking and gardening, as well as outings in the local area to encourage socialization, and the planning of specific outdoor activities. Our methodological proposal is based on the ANFFAS “Quality of Life” model, for which disability is conceptualised as a health condition and where physical, mental, intellectual and sensory impairments are nothing more than the expression of human diversity.


The socialization centre L’Arcolaio was born at the end of the 1980s in Tavarnuzze, Impruneta (FI), as a result of the collaboration between the Cooperativa Sociale Arca, the Municipality of Impruneta and then the ASL (Local Health Authority) of the south-east of Florence. The main objective of the centre is to offer a place where everyone feels welcome, where they can express themselves and interact with others, trying to develop their talents.
The centre can accommodate a maximum of 12 guests aged between 18 and 65. L’Arcolaio is based on a Didactics of Inclusion that considers everyone as a protagonist in learning, whatever their abilities, potential and limits. This involves diversified methodologies depending on the situation, such as group work, time sharing, cooperative learning and the use of computer aids.
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