Posts tagged #Shopping

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!)



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

DSC02060.jpg
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!

Exploring the Marché aux Puces

Have you ever imagined yourself wandering through the lengendary markets of the Marche Aux Puces de Saint Ouen, visiting sites made famous in countless movies and other media - and in PARIS???  Like so much of the City of Light, it's a pinch-me-I'm-dreaming kind of place but also a spectacular shopping experience - full of objects with provenance for real homes and businesses.  Join me on a virtual tour.....

A delightful showroom in Marché Vernaison

A delightful showroom in Marché Vernaison

We have a saying in our family, "It's good to be a regular!"  And of course I would add, "...in Paris!!!"  After a wonderful trip to Italy and France in 2014 to celebrate my 60th birthday, we returned to France last month and spent one blissful, languorous week in the sun at Hotel Le Hameau in St Paul de Vence and 3 active (!) weeks in Paris, in accomodations through Guest Apartment Services.    We traveled to Paris (and France, generally) to assess trends at Maison et Objet (see my post on that here), shop at the Marché aux Puces and also the Village St Paul in the Marais, and - certainly not least - celebrate our 30th Anniversary....! 

Ile St Louis is a perfect location - halfway between St Germain and le Marais

Ile St Louis is a perfect location - halfway between St Germain and le Marais

This year, we rented an apartment on l'ile St Louis and were found regularly at the cafe St Regis, on the northern tip (northwestern?) of the island.  It's a grand place to while away the time watching people from all over the world discover Paris for the first time and try to pick out the locals, while sipping an extremely pale rosé or a chilled Chablis.  The food there is very good, too....

We were regulars at the  Cafe St Regis  on Ile St Louis

We were regulars at the Cafe St Regis on Ile St Louis

Just a few step from  Cafe St Regis  is a pedestrian-only bridge accross the Seine leading to Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame.  There are always musicians of one genre or another performing.   Ahhhhh......

Just a few step from Cafe St Regis is a pedestrian-only bridge accross the Seine leading to Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame.  There are always musicians of one genre or another performing.   Ahhhhh......

OK, on to the Flea Market.....

Having shopped at the Marché aux Puces last year, and now again this year, I guess we're almost regulars! There is really so much to see - it's over 20 acres of dealers' showrooms/stalls so it entails a huge amount of walking, though, being Paris, there are plenty of places to take a break for a meal and wine.  But be sure to wear comfortable shoes anyway!

Here are some of my favorite images from our day this year:

Bachelier Antiquités   never disappoints

Bachelier Antiquités  never disappoints

Fun industrial chic 

Fun industrial chic 

LOVE the juxtaposition of the retro motorbike and amethyst, amber and jade green glass bottles

LOVE the juxtaposition of the retro motorbike and amethyst, amber and jade green glass bottles

I think I've found something interesting...

I think I've found something interesting...

The coolest vintage clothing and jewelry

The coolest vintage clothing and jewelry

Guess who loved this dealer's place?  I love the little Paris photo prop behind....

Guess who loved this dealer's place?  I love the little Paris photo prop behind....

Those seltzer bottles!

Those seltzer bottles!

....and these chairs

....and these chairs

Sort of what you'd expect in the way of French furniture, though the white is unusual.  (Does that wrinkled rug bother anyone else??) 

Sort of what you'd expect in the way of French furniture, though the white is unusual.  (Does that wrinkled rug bother anyone else??) 

Looks like a little village but is just one of the Marchés

Looks like a little village but is just one of the Marchés

A private restroom for vendors.....don't tell

A private restroom for vendors.....don't tell

Francois Bachelier et moi

Francois Bachelier et moi

While in Bachelier Antiquités, I found these wine box remnants and was given a super price, I guess because I bought so much there last year - or maybe it's because Bob made friends with Maman Bachelier....  Anyway, yes, it's good to be a regular!

Posted on October 15, 2015 and filed under Paris, Marche aux Puces st Ouen.