Posts filed under Firenze

A Florentine artist we love, Tanvi Pathare

Piazza D’Azeglio fountain by Tanvi Pathare

Piazza D’Azeglio fountain by Tanvi Pathare

In Florence, we are surrounded by art, as anyone who has travelled to this magical city knows.  It’s almost another language, spoken visually.  It can be somewhat overwhelming, at times, like the fragrance of jasmine in June… but learning to slow down, pausing to take it all in, is an art in itself. Well worth practicing for us Americans.

A normal quiet day in il giardino of Piazza D’Azeglio, with the fountain in the distance

A normal quiet day in il giardino of Piazza D’Azeglio, with the fountain in the distance

On a warm morning last July, as we unhurriedly strolled home through Piazza D’Azeglio after morning coffee at Cafe 1926, we were captivated by the sight of various artists with their easels set up. They were earnestly working to transfer to their canvases the dappled morning light, as it played in the beauty of our park.  One of the artist’s work stood out to us; we loved her composition, style, and gracious talent.  We paused to chat with her and discovered she was the class instructor, Tanvi Pathare.

Tanvi Pathare with her framed painting of the fountain in our park

Tanvi Pathare with her framed painting of the fountain in our park

Tanvi is originally from Mumbai, where she earned her BFA, before beginning her studies at the Florence Academy of Art - where she is now an instructor!  And she makes her home here in Florence.  Take a look at her website:  www.tanvipathare.com.  She’s very talented! 

Tanvi’s still life examples from her website

Tanvi’s still life examples from her website

Well, of course, we bought the piece (as an anniversary gift to each other). So now we’ve acquired more art as well as a new friend!

Tanvi’s painting has found a home on our gallery wall

Tanvi’s painting has found a home on our gallery wall

Posted on March 12, 2019 and filed under Art, Firenze.

Our second summer, fall, and holiday season in Florence

In mid-November, walking back to our apartment from Mercato Centrale, the Duomo peaking over our shoulders. Photo by Nick Minnott

In mid-November, walking back to our apartment from Mercato Centrale, the Duomo peaking over our shoulders. Photo by Nick Minnott

Well, I had intended to write long before now!  I had a post all queued up about shopping for and preparing our first Thanksgiving dinner in Italy - but then that post became a combined “Holiday” post (Thanksgiving and Christmas) - which didn’t get written.  So, I thought I’d write a combined Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s screed - and somehow it didn’t materialize, either, alas. And here we are, in the middle of January, in a new year.  Where DOES the time go??

But, let me back up.  We’ve been living in Florence for 18 months now.  How did THAT arrive so quickly?!  It’s been an amazing, frustrating, nail-biting, nerve-wracking, wonderful, exhilarating experience.  Above all, very edifying.  And a great opportunity to practice what I preach:  Acceptance & Allowing.

Not our car - but it’s pretty darn cute!

Not our car - but it’s pretty darn cute!

Our first year was hectic and sort of crazy.  After moving from our large Seattle home  - with Samantha the Samoyed - into a furnished Florentine apartment in “tourist central” Piazza Santa Croce, in March of 2018 we moved into our current home, where we intend to spend many years. We had lots of crazy experiences that first year you can read about here.  And the adventure has continued…

So, from June through Christmas, a wrap up:

guigno, 2018

Our friends, Kathy and Steve Gleaves, had a very brief visit in Florence. We were thrilled that we were able to have dinner with them at    Osteria delle Brache   .

Our friends, Kathy and Steve Gleaves, had a very brief visit in Florence. We were thrilled that we were able to have dinner with them at Osteria delle Brache.

One day in late June, we spent a few hours in Milan and had lunch in the    Vittorio Emanuele mall   . It was touristy and pricey, yes, but so beautiful!

One day in late June, we spent a few hours in Milan and had lunch in the Vittorio Emanuele mall. It was touristy and pricey, yes, but so beautiful!

luglio, 2018

We watched the re-paving of the street in front of our piazza beginning in April. By July, it was awfully hot in the street. This fellow makes his own coffee break!

We watched the re-paving of the street in front of our piazza beginning in April. By July, it was awfully hot in the street. This fellow makes his own coffee break!

We remembered, from the previous summer, how important it is to get out of the house early and then scurry back into the A/C before completely wilting from the heat.  It starts getting really hot about mid July and stays that way for something like 6-8 weeks. 

Temporarily blonde

Temporarily blonde

The day before our 32nd Anniversary, I went to my local hair stylist and, because of a language misunderstanding, (I guess) I emerged blonde!  haha!  Oh, well.  At least it was summer.

agosto, 2018

August in Florence is almost unbearably hot and humid.  We (including Samantha) had a short stay at Borgo i Vicelli, a gem of a tiny resort in Bagno a Ripoli and only a 20 minute taxi ride away. Important, since we don’t have a car! 

The pool and restaurant at Borgo i Vicelli.

The pool and restaurant at Borgo i Vicelli.

Lovely grounds at Borgo i Vicelli.

Lovely grounds at Borgo i Vicelli.

The serene pool at sunset - Borgo i Vicelli.

The serene pool at sunset - Borgo i Vicelli.

Borgo i Vicelli is family-run, the setting is absolutely divine, the food is amazing, the wine is sourced from nearby, the olive oil is made on-site, and it has a lovely pool and spa.  Also, dogs are accepted (see photo above). Highly recommended.

settembre, 2018

My cherished friend/client/chiropractor, Dr. Vivian Ledesma, had 4 days open between her trip to Romania and before she joined a biking group in The Lakes district - I was overjoyed that she chose to spend it in Florence!  She stayed a half block from us in Hotel Liana, so we were neighbors for a few days.

Fabulous photo of Viv that Bob took.

Fabulous photo of Viv that Bob took.

Scenes from homewares store    Riccardo Barthel.

Scenes from homewares store Riccardo Barthel.

One of the incredible floors featured at    Riccardo Barthel    - bellisimo pavimento! (beautiful floor in Italian)

One of the incredible floors featured at Riccardo Barthel - bellisimo pavimento! (beautiful floor in Italian)

I showed Viv all around MY Florence: my favorite clothing store, homewares store, Oltrarno enoteca, cafe, and both mercati (Sant’Ambrogio and Mercato Centrale).

Great photo Viv took in Mercato Sant’Ambrogio.

Great photo Viv took in Mercato Sant’Ambrogio.

….and we cooked zucchini flowers! 

Fiori dei zucchini before….

Fiori dei zucchini before….

….and after cooking. They were delicious, even though this photo doesn’t do them justice - ha!

….and after cooking. They were delicious, even though this photo doesn’t do them justice - ha!

In September I had yet another Permesso di Soggiorno complication, but it was resolved and I enrolled in more Italian classes.

ottobre, 2018

We had visitors and good news!

In the beginning of October, Lisa and Paul, our niece and her husband, stopped by for a brief visit.

In the beginning of October, Lisa and Paul, our niece and her husband, stopped by for a brief visit.

My stepbrother, Jay, and his wife, Joan included Florence in their 5 week stay in Italy.

My stepbrother, Jay, and his wife, Joan included Florence in their 5 week stay in Italy.

I rejoined the Italian class I had been unable to finish the prior April (due to a severely sprained ankle) and, this time, was a stellar student!    Our son, Nick, arrived to pursue his Italian dual citizenship through Bob…

Bob waiting for me to return from Palazzo Vecchio with good news.

Bob waiting for me to return from Palazzo Vecchio with good news.

One week later - he’s an Italian citizen!

One week later - he’s an Italian citizen!

…AND Bob received his Italian citizenship recognition!  It was a big, big month!!

novembre, 2018

The weather became colder, though not bitterly cold, yet. I decided to make Ringraziamento (Thanksgiving) dinner and we were delighted to have guests from Seattle, Susan and her daughter Jen, and our new friends from Scotland, Ellen and her daughter Frances, join us.

At Mercato Sant’Ambrogio ordering our tacchino for Ringraziamento. (Yes, dogs are allowed inside…) The tacchino (turkey), which I thought would be the most daunting part to track down, was actually the easiest.

At Mercato Sant’Ambrogio ordering our tacchino for Ringraziamento. (Yes, dogs are allowed inside…) The tacchino (turkey), which I thought would be the most daunting part to track down, was actually the easiest.

Finding cranberries was another story.  Eventually, I rehydrated dried mirtilli rossi (cranberries) to make my favorite Silver Palette cranberry sauce recipe.

The tacchino JUST fit in the oven!

The tacchino JUST fit in the oven!

Dessert: Pecan chocolate pie, which I made, and a divine Pavlova prepared by our guest, Ellen.

Dessert: Pecan chocolate pie, which I made, and a divine Pavlova prepared by our guest, Ellen.

A good time was had by all! Susan, Jen, Ellen, me, Frances, Nick. Bob was here, too, but behind the camera.

A good time was had by all! Susan, Jen, Ellen, me, Frances, Nick. Bob was here, too, but behind the camera.

It was quite an undertaking, sourcing the ingredients for a semi-traditional American feast, while not being in America.  The menu:

  • Olive, nocce, crema di tartufo e croccantini (olives, nuts, truffle spread & toasts) 

  • Tacchino (Turkey)

  • Confettura di mirtilli rossi (Cranberry sauce) 

  • Risotto con zucca e pistacchio (Pumpkin risotto with toasted pistacchios)

  • Cavoletti di Bruxelles con cipolla rossa e avocado (Brussels sprouts w/ red onion & avocado - from Heather Christo

  • Verdure grigliate (roasted veggies from Ellen)

  • Insalata (Salad)

  • Pane (Bread)

  • Torta di cioccolata e nocce di pecan (Chocolate pecan pie - David Liebovitz’ recipe)

  • An absolutely stunning Pavlova - brought by our Scottish friends, Ellen and Frances

  • Prosecco, vino rosato e vino rosso (Sparking, rosé, and red wines) 

dicembre, 2018

Ok, by now the weather was quite bitterly cold in the mornings.  Sometimes it remains that way throughout the day but every so often it’s quite pleasant. 

Christmas decorations are everywhere, the    Mercato di Natale    (Christmas market) at Piazza Santa Croce is in full swing, and Vin Brûlée (mulled wine) is offered almost everywhere - even in our kitchen!

Christmas decorations are everywhere, the Mercato di Natale (Christmas market) at Piazza Santa Croce is in full swing, and Vin Brûlée (mulled wine) is offered almost everywhere - even in our kitchen!

Via Tornabuoni, home to fabulous luxury fashion houses, such as Gucci, Ferragamo, Prada, and many more. Photo taken by Nick.

Via Tornabuoni, home to fabulous luxury fashion houses, such as Gucci, Ferragamo, Prada, and many more. Photo taken by Nick.

As I unpacked the Christmas decorations I had shipped over in our container the prior spring, I was surprised how I misremembered the small amount I had packed and had to be inventive.  We didn’t have a traditional tree….or a mantle over which to hang the stockings. 

The stockings were hung by the stairwell with care….

The stockings were hung by the stairwell with care….

Our Christmas palm tree.

Our Christmas palm tree.

But we did enjoy the beautiful seasonal clutter! 

Thank goodness I sent over lots of small Christmas decorations!

Thank goodness I sent over lots of small Christmas decorations!

Bob discovered the fun of buying wine in bulk and it gave him great joy to make personalized labels and drop them off as Christmas gifts.

Bob discovered the fun of buying wine in bulk and it gave him great joy to make personalized labels and drop them off as Christmas gifts.

Just before Christmas, our new but already dear friends, Ellen and Frances, moved to France.  We tried to help them as much as possible, even though it was sad for us - we miss them!

Buon Anno!

Buon Anno!

And here we are in 2019. My New Year’s Resolution this year is to post more from Italy in the coming months.  More about the culture, shopping, art & architecture, and gardens, of course. Ci vediamo presto! (See you soon!)



11th hour craziness in pursuit of Italian citizenship

It's exhausting being petted so much on Piazza Santa Croce!

It's exhausting being petted so much on Piazza Santa Croce!

Cittadinanza

After we moved into our Piazza Santa Croce apartment on June 27th, we went to our local Mailboxes, etc right around the corner and requested that the Italian Consulate in Los Angeles send our citizenship file originals to us in Florence, where we would pursue Italian citizenship for my husband.  We received the file July 4th, then we spent several weeks trying to connect with an attorney we had met on our last trip to Florence.  (We took a wonderful cooking class from his sister, who owns Cooking in Florence, and she introduced us to him)  We finally made contact with him mid-July, and he told us things were crazy busy getting work done in preparation for the August holidays.  (Pretty much all of Italy, except for tourist-dependent businesses, shuts down most, if not all, of August!!) 

We scrambled to get our documents submitted, then spent a few weeks waiting for the police visit to verify our residence.  Then, suddenly, the cittadinanza application was halted - the woman reviewing it had found several discrepancies (Bob's grandfather's name was spelled differently in a few places).  Our attorney wrote a lengthy "act" in which he explained everything, and the application started again, which meant waiting for the police to visit, again - not leaving all day!  On a whim, Monday morning I checked our mailbox and found a document that stated the police had been to our residence on the prior Friday and not found us here, even though we'd been dutifully sitting and waiting for them ALL DAY!!!!  We faxed the document back to the police, giving our hours of availability, and they showed up the next day!  One down.....

Permesso di Soggiorno

With the cittadinanza restarted, and the residency verified, it was now time to submit the Permesso di Soggiorno kit.  We went to the Ufficio Postale on via Porta Rossa (a beautiful building, by the way) and they would NOT accept Bob's application (!) because he didn't have a visa, which you don't need if you are here and applying for citizenship.  So, Bob and our attorney met the next day at a different post office and the application was accepted! On August 29th, Bob's last day to legally remain in Italy without the citizenship/residency/permesso di soggiorno applications being accepted!  2 down in the 11th hour craziness.....

Our Florence attorney, Ugo Franceschetti

Our Florence attorney, Ugo Franceschetti

A visa application of some kind....

Meanwhile, because of the 90 day Schengen tourist restriction, I had to leave Italy and return to the US to get a visa from the Italian Consulate in order to return to Italy! 

At the tiny Florence airport about to embark for San Francisco

At the tiny Florence airport about to embark for San Francisco

I flew to San Francisco August 30th, intent upon imploring the consulate to give me a visa.  But, they would not!  They said, since my husband's citizenship application was in process, granting me a visa would "confuse things".  What??!!  (They are telling me this as I beg them, standing on tiptoe, talking to Giorgia, the visa employee, via microphone, behind thick glass) 

The Italian Consulate in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood

The Italian Consulate in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood

In the meantime, our attorney had come up with a plan:  I would enroll in an Italian language course and apply for a Student Visa.  I mentioned it to Giorgia, she was adamant that, no, it wasn't possible. I teared up, she softened, and then - surprise! - she suggested I enroll in classes and apply for a Student Visa.  (I wish we'd thought of that!) So, Bob enrolled me in the Lorenzo de Medici Institute, with classes beginning September 4th. I flew to Seattle September 1st and set about getting all my ducks in a row.

My new school in Florence!

My new school in Florence!

I met with the Honorary Consulate in Seattle on September 12th.  My file was ironclad, complete, each section was clipped together, with a cover sheet that summarized the pages, and the entire file was in the exact order of the checklist on the Consulate website.  After Mr Tesorieri reviewed the file and handed it to me, I was told to send it to San Francisco for processing.  And write them a nice note about my impending departure, September 20th.

I overnighted the package to San Francisco, it arrived Thursday, September 14th, delayed a day because of the hurricanes and other disruptions (none on the west coast, but oh well).  I called and emailed the SF consulate about my application and ticketed flight back to Florence September 20th but was answered with a terse note admonishing me "not to pressure them about my airline ticket".  Well!

The day of my flight arrived and my passport and visa hadn't.  So, I proceeded to change my flight (had paid extra for a changeable ticket) - but to what day??  I intuitively chose Sunday, September 24th as my new departure date.  And hoped my passport/visa would arrive the 21st, 22nd or 23rd.  

On Friday, September 22, I sent another email to the San Francisco Consulate requesting "Visa Status - Flight in 3 days" per directions on their website.  I got an answer at 1:12 pm:  "Hello. Your passport has been mailed." I opened up the USPS website I had been obsessively checking daily and..... nothing. I refreshed the page over and over and - suddenly! - there was info!!  My passport was picked up in SF at 11:20 am and in transit!  But would it arrive to me by Saturday, so I could make my Sunday flight??  

YES!  ...... at the 11th hour....... IT DID!!!!

I haven't been so excited to get the mail in a long time....!

I haven't been so excited to get the mail in a long time....!

It was a ton of consternation, hard work, planning, organizing, frustration, and incredible stress - but it was fabulous to see friends and family in Seattle  - and I even made a new friend in San Francisco - while I waited for my visa....

With my brother and step brother

With my brother and step brother

Leslie and I love these basil-infused drinks at Bar Cantinetta

Leslie and I love these basil-infused drinks at Bar Cantinetta

Fab 4 celebrating Tana's birthday

Fab 4 celebrating Tana's birthday

Nick on his way to the airport

Nick on his way to the airport

And pretty nice to get back to my Florence neighborhood....

Basilica di Santa Croce

Basilica di Santa Croce

Our apartment building on Piazza Santa Croce

Our apartment building on Piazza Santa Croce

The nightly constitutional with Sammie

The nightly constitutional with Sammie

Posted on October 25, 2017 and filed under Firenze.

A new perspective!

Looking at Florence from Fiesole

Looking at Florence from Fiesole

We made it!  It took a teeny bit longer than we had hoped or wished, but we're here now (yay!) and busily exploring our new environment.  

Yes, we brought our dog Samantha Rose - how could we not? Florence is dog-friendly in the extreme.  I just wish our son were here, too...

Yes, we brought our dog Samantha Rose - how could we not? Florence is dog-friendly in the extreme.  I just wish our son were here, too...

Saying goodbye to Nick at the airport.  We're smiling to keep from crying.

Saying goodbye to Nick at the airport.  We're smiling to keep from crying.

We happened to glance out the lounge waiting area at the exact moment Samantha's crate was being taken to the plane!  (We flew Lufthansa, not Southwest - ha!)  What do you suppose she was thinking...?

We happened to glance out the lounge waiting area at the exact moment Samantha's crate was being taken to the plane!  (We flew Lufthansa, not Southwest - ha!)  What do you suppose she was thinking...?

One of the reasons we chose Florence (apart from the art, history, architecture, shopping, food, and walkable-ness!) was for the pace of life.  It is Italy, after all.  After spending a fair amount of time in France and Italy, I've been struck by how the French and Italians really savor life:  food and wine are eagerly tasted, stores are small, thereby encouraging frequent trips (the better to get to know the proprietors) and even a trip to empty the garbage/recycle/yard waste is an excursion.

Our home for the first month in Florence

Our home for the first month in Florence

Our first home in Florence - for 30 days! - was the Hotel Villa Carlotta in Porta Romana, the Florentine gate that one passed through to journey south to Rome.  

Porta Romana, the Florentine gate toward Rome

Porta Romana, the Florentine gate toward Rome

The area around the hotel is full of beautiful villas, parks, wide walkways, and a luxurious hotel, Villa Cora, as well as bed and breakfasts.  We discovered some wonderful shops and eateries in our monthlong stay.  

One of our favorite restaurants, Podere 39, on Via Senese.  The pasta is amazing!  https://www.facebook.com/Podere-39-Firenze-919420918172225/

One of our favorite restaurants, Podere 39, on Via Senese.  The pasta is amazing! https://www.facebook.com/Podere-39-Firenze-919420918172225/

Looking out to via Senese from the interior of Podere 39

Looking out to via Senese from the interior of Podere 39

The pizza at  Antica Porta  is so thin and delicious!!

The pizza at Antica Porta is so thin and delicious!!

I have bought quite a few items from sisters Guilia (above) and Samanta of MuseLab.   https://www.facebook.com/muselabfirenze/

I have bought quite a few items from sisters Guilia (above) and Samanta of MuseLab.  https://www.facebook.com/muselabfirenze/

This home store is so amazing I could live there!  Kitchen and bath cabinets and fixtures, tile, fabric, cooking lessons in the fully-equipped kitchen - everything!   Riccardo Barthel  on via Romana.

This home store is so amazing I could live there!  Kitchen and bath cabinets and fixtures, tile, fabric, cooking lessons in the fully-equipped kitchen - everything!  Riccardo Barthel on via Romana.

An art restoration business on via Romana

An art restoration business on via Romana

It's been very, very hot here in Florence since the beginning of June.  One evening, while dining at Podere 39, I saw a woman at a nearby table fanning herself.  She didn't speak English but did speak French so I asked her where to find a fan for myself.  She tried to explain what sort of market might have one, then suddenly, a few minutes later, she handed her fan to me!  And told me it was a gift!  What a wonderful experience!

On June 27, we moved into our apartment (for the next 9 months, or so) on Piazza Santa Croce. It's right smack in the middle of the action, so is inundated with tourists from late morning until late evening - but we love the apartment.  It's a good temporary home!

Our apartment on Piazza Santa Croce, looking toward the terrace. 

Our apartment on Piazza Santa Croce, looking toward the terrace. 

Sky from the terrace

Sky from the terrace

From this new venue, I plan to write about the design scene in Florence as well as events, restaurant and accommodation recommendations, nearby places to discover, and some historical perspectives - and everything in between!  Please join me! 

 

 

 

 

Posted on July 10, 2017 and filed under Firenze, Travel.

Springtime in Italy - Memorable Moments

It was late winter when we started our 5 week Italian exploration in Rome, at our favorite hotel: Campo de' Fiori......

The early March view from our balcony in Rome at  Hotel Campo de' Fiori

The early March view from our balcony in Rome at Hotel Campo de' Fiori

A vegetable stand in the Campo de' Fiori market

A vegetable stand in the Campo de' Fiori market

I was struck by the packaging on these spices, herbs and dried beans, etc at the market in Campo de' Fiori

I was struck by the packaging on these spices, herbs and dried beans, etc at the market in Campo de' Fiori

The view of  Hotel Campo de' Fiori  from our favorite enoteca  Verso Sera

The view of Hotel Campo de' Fiori from our favorite enoteca Verso Sera

The staff makes the hotel --- and these two are the best!   Valentina and Francesco at Hotel Campo de' Fiori

The staff makes the hotel --- and these two are the best!  Valentina and Francesco at Hotel Campo de' Fiori

The late-winter view from the rooftop at  Hotel Campo de'Fiori, Rome

The late-winter view from the rooftop at Hotel Campo de'Fiori, Rome

Rome window shopping.  Incredible children's clothing!  I think I would wear these things. Maybe not the shoes......

Rome window shopping.  Incredible children's clothing!  I think I would wear these things. Maybe not the shoes......

Creative parking in Rome!  Ha!

Creative parking in Rome!  Ha!

After 3 days, it was on to Florence, where we'd live for a month.....

It was fairly brisk in mid-March, but not raining!

It was fairly brisk in mid-March, but not raining!

Our normal breakfast at a cafe half a block from our apartment

Our normal breakfast at a cafe half a block from our apartment

Shopping in this city is the best!

One of my favorite stores for higher-end clothing and shoes:   Raspini

One of my favorite stores for higher-end clothing and shoes:  Raspini

I love this store, too - much less pricey!   Vincent Croce   There are 2 locations (that I found):  in San Frediano, near the Ponte alla Carraia and on Borgo la Croce, near the mercato San Ambrogio 

I love this store, too - much less pricey!  Vincent Croce  There are 2 locations (that I found):  in San Frediano, near the Ponte alla Carraia and on Borgo la Croce, near the mercato San Ambrogio 

This is how we roll when shopping

This is how we roll when shopping

I adored this cafe the second I walked in!  It's small and charming.  Cafe Cibreo

I adored this cafe the second I walked in!  It's small and charming. Cafe Cibreo

Shops like these are everywhere.  This was me provisioning on our first night in Florence.

Shops like these are everywhere.  This was me provisioning on our first night in Florence.

Connecting:

We met  Melinda Gallo  after corresponding with her for about a year.  We ended up having Easter lunch with her, hosting her for Friday night nachos (gathering the ingredients for  that  dinner is a post in itself!), and here is our farewell luncheon, the day before we left Florence.  Check out her  blog!

We met Melinda Gallo after corresponding with her for about a year.  We ended up having Easter lunch with her, hosting her for Friday night nachos (gathering the ingredients for that dinner is a post in itself!), and here is our farewell luncheon, the day before we left Florence.  Check out her blog!

This shop makes masks and wigs and ALL kinds of special makeup for cinema and theater.  We passed by the storefront almost every day and one day ventured in:   Filistrucchi

This shop makes masks and wigs and ALL kinds of special makeup for cinema and theater.  We passed by the storefront almost every day and one day ventured in:  Filistrucchi

Daily life.....

Florentine police at Piazza Santo Spirito

Florentine police at Piazza Santo Spirito

Florentines park creatively, too!

Florentines park creatively, too!

Venturing beyond the borders of Florence....

One Sunday, on a whim, we jumped a city bus and climbed the hill north of Florence to Fiesole.  This is what's left of a Roman amphitheater.

One Sunday, on a whim, we jumped a city bus and climbed the hill north of Florence to Fiesole.  This is what's left of a Roman amphitheater.

In mid-March we took the express train - 2 hours! - to Venice. 

In mid-March we took the express train - 2 hours! - to Venice. 

This shop was  amazing!   Not only the drama of the setting, but much of the clothing is designed in-house and is superb quality.   Pot-pouri

This shop was amazing!  Not only the drama of the setting, but much of the clothing is designed in-house and is superb quality.  Pot-pouri

Of course, while in Venice, we HAD to have a real Bellini at  Harry's Bar.   The room was startlingly small and unpretentious - and the glasses were surprising - but it was an experience.

Of course, while in Venice, we HAD to have a real Bellini at Harry's Bar.  The room was startlingly small and unpretentious - and the glasses were surprising - but it was an experience.

We visited the Cinque Terre the end of March - a great way to greet April!  This is the view of Vernazza from the tower of Castello Doria....

We visited the Cinque Terre the end of March - a great way to greet April!  This is the view of Vernazza from the tower of Castello Doria....

.....And the view looking out toward sea from our room at  La Mala  in Vernazza

.....And the view looking out toward sea from our room at La Mala in Vernazza

A wonderful wine we first discovered when our son found it at a wine seller in Seattle for us.  Made in Cinque Terre!

A wonderful wine we first discovered when our son found it at a wine seller in Seattle for us.  Made in Cinque Terre!

A day exploring Monterosso in the Cinque Terre

A day exploring Monterosso in the Cinque Terre

Some Italian men having lunch behind me at  Ristorante Ciak in Monterosso .  Note the ties and scarves even in a beach town.  I love the way Italians and French  dress!

Some Italian men having lunch behind me at Ristorante Ciak in Monterosso.  Note the ties and scarves even in a beach town.  I love the way Italians and French dress!

Italian travel mistakes....

So, we missed our train connection in La Spezia and had to wait for the next one to Florence.  We met some young Americans - west coasters, like us! - and enjoyed (!) wine in the ambience of the train station....ahem. The company was definitely better than the surroundings but it was a memory!

So, we missed our train connection in La Spezia and had to wait for the next one to Florence.  We met some young Americans - west coasters, like us! - and enjoyed (!) wine in the ambience of the train station....ahem. The company was definitely better than the surroundings but it was a memory!

.....and then, one Sunday, we decided to take a bus to Greve in Chianti.  We bought tickets and were directed to the bus --- which, it turned out, was going to Grosseto, not Greve, sadly we discovered an hour into the trip!!!  2 1/2 hours and not much to see around the bus/train station, then 2 1/2 hours back - the whole Sunday spent on a bus....!  We made the best of it, though.... Inexpensive Chianti and a delicious flat bread pizza sort of thing - lunch totaled 5 euros. 

.....and then, one Sunday, we decided to take a bus to Greve in Chianti.  We bought tickets and were directed to the bus --- which, it turned out, was going to Grosseto, not Greve, sadly we discovered an hour into the trip!!!  2 1/2 hours and not much to see around the bus/train station, then 2 1/2 hours back - the whole Sunday spent on a bus....!  We made the best of it, though.... Inexpensive Chianti and a delicious flat bread pizza sort of thing - lunch totaled 5 euros. 

Sometimes it's best just to put up your feet and relax..... There are some changes on the horizon....Stay tuned for the next adventures!

Looking toward the terrace in our Florence apartment.

Looking toward the terrace in our Florence apartment.

Posted on June 9, 2016 and filed under Firenze, Travel.

Florence: From a designer's Perspective

I clearly remember the first time I visited Florence.  It was late September, 1979, and the air had a crispness, foretelling the changing of the seasons.  I was astounded by the beauty all around:  architecture, monuments, the contrast of terra cotta roof tiles against blue skies, chic people wearing furs and gorgeous leather!  

The view from San Miniato al Monte

The view from San Miniato al Monte

After several trips over the years, we decided to spend a month in between winter and spring (the idea was to avoid heavy tourist times - ha!) soaking in all that is the wonder of this compact city.  

Palazzo Antellesi 

Palazzo Antellesi 

We rented an apartment through Italy Perfect and stayed in Palazzo Antellesi on Piazza Santa Croce, a wonderfully central location.  According to various sources, the Palazzo was first built in medieval times and enlarged in the late 16th c, then acquired in the early 17th c by Niccolo' dell'Antella (from whom the name originates) and joined with a nearby building to make one large palazzo.  He commissioned frescoes to cover the entire facade. The frescoes faded over time but then the Cinelli family bought the building and restored them in the 1920's and again in 1990. Young Federica Cinelli inherited the Palazzo in 1945, then married Count Piccolomini, becoming La Contessa Piccolomini. La Contessa still lives here, as does some of her family. And we so much enjoyed meeting her and her daughter, Francesca!

Our first apartment, Paradiso

Our first apartment, Paradiso

Our first apartment had amazing Renaissance frescoes and high, high ceilings.  After being there about 10 days, we moved to another apartment in the building that we absolutely loved!  The colors of the Belvedere suit me perfectly.... 

Living room of the Belvedere

Living room of the Belvedere

We spent many hours enjoying the sun-filled terrace

We spent many hours enjoying the sun-filled terrace

The kitchen is small but has everything someone who loves to cook needs

The kitchen is small but has everything someone who loves to cook needs

Once we unpacked, gathered provisions and settled into our apartment, we began serious exploration. First up, a cooking class and market tour with Laura Franceschetti of Cooking in Florence. We had the most delightful time spending the day (!) with her, starting at the Mercato Sant'Ambrogio and then at her wonderful home, which happened to be a 5 minute walk from our apartment!  (Almost everything is.... more on that later)

Laura Franceschetti and me at Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

Laura Franceschetti and me at Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

We met at the Mercato Sant'Ambrogio (which is not as touristy as the larger, newly renovated Mercato Centrale, but feels more "authentic") where we learned about purchasing seasonal foods, pasta, cheese ("there's no such thing as Parmesan cheese - it's Parmigiano"), meat, seafood and generally started to feel like being with a friend.

Look at the color and the care with which everything is displayed!

Look at the color and the care with which everything is displayed!

The cooking lesson was informative and the food tasted incredible, but I was equally enthralled with Laura's home.  The floor tile!  The ceiling!   

Laura's kitchen floor

Laura's kitchen floor

A frescoed ceiling at Laura's

A frescoed ceiling at Laura's

After eating like kings, a few days later I convinced my husband, Bob, to make the hike up to San Miniato al Monte, my favorite little Romanesque church, with the most glorious view of Firenze!

San Minato al Monte

San Minato al Monte

The view from San Miniato al Monte

The view from San Miniato al Monte

Downhill from San Minato al Monte we found the charming San Niccolo' neighborhood and beautiful Piazzale Michelangelo. 

A building in San Niccolo'

A building in San Niccolo'

....and we stumbled upon the most lovely boutique hotel, Villa Vedetta, where we felt like royalty, as we dined privately near the pool...

The pool at Hotel Villa Vedetta

The pool at Hotel Villa Vedetta

The lobby of Villa Vedetta

The lobby of Villa Vedetta

As long as we're on the subject of hotels, the Four Seasons Florence, located in the fifteenth-century Palazzo della Gherardesca, is quite lovely and has an amazing private garden that only guests of the hotel are privy to.  We had coffee in the gorgeous bar, so technically we were guests.....

The Renaissance courtyard

The Renaissance courtyard

the Bar

the Bar

The gardens....

The gardens....

And the JK Place hotel, on newly renovated Piazza Santa Maria Novella, was a complete treat for the senses!

JK Place terrace on Piazza Santa Maria Novella

JK Place terrace on Piazza Santa Maria Novella

An interior shot

An interior shot

Ceiling detail, JK Place

Ceiling detail, JK Place

I loved the exterior of this little hotel even more when I saw the name:  Hotel Botticelli  And then I discovered it was built in the latter half of the 16th c.  Sort of average for this city - ha! - but still impressive!   

This is what 16th c Florentine looks like....

This is what 16th c Florentine looks like....

Another 16th c building, another amazing ceiling....

Another 16th c building, another amazing ceiling....

So many incredible edifices in one city!

Santa Croce at night

Santa Croce at night

The Duomo peeking out.....

The Duomo peeking out.....

....and from the Boboli gardens

....and from the Boboli gardens

A little corner of green

A little corner of green

And then there's Florence shopping!  The food markets, flea markets and special/holiday markets.  The clothing stores, shoe stores and perfumeries - so much to explore!

Mercato Centrale

Mercato Centrale

The flea market by Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

The flea market by Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

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on Via Santo Spirito

on Via Santo Spirito

On Via Santo Spirito

On Via Santo Spirito

No visit would be complete without a stop at  Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella  - lots of history here and it smells divine!  Wonderful architectural details, too.

No visit would be complete without a stop at Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella - lots of history here and it smells divine!  Wonderful architectural details, too.

Great little boutique next to Rivoire on Piazza Della Signoria - I don't remember the name, unfortunately.  But great stairwell!

Great little boutique next to Rivoire on Piazza Della Signoria - I don't remember the name, unfortunately.  But great stairwell!

I could go on and on - and I will, in the next post! - but I'll close with this designer-y cup of espresso machiato I had at JT Caffe, across from the Palazzo Pitti.

Ciao for now!