Yearly Archive: 2007

New Year’s resolutions

The streets of Florence are not safe on New Year’s Eve. Gangs of youths run amok, tossing firecrackers indiscriminately into crowds. Residents throw empty bottles from their windows. Rome, they say, is even worse. No matter, we usually spend New Year’s Eve at home, anyway. When we lived in Florence we enjoyably spent the last day of the calendar year foraging in our favorite haunts. Cheeses, nuts, olives and a salmon spread from the Central Market, bread and rolls from Verrazzanno on Via dei Tavolini, a small pork roast from Sandro Polleria on Via dei Cerchi, rosemary, carrots, zucchini and...

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Merry Christmas to all

Sandy, my illustrator and my muse, joins me in wishing everyone a happy, healthy holiday. May all readers enjoy this wondrous season with family and friends. Take some time to reflect on what truly matters – it’s the Italian way! Best wishes for 2008 and if Florence is not on your agenda, it should be!

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Christmas on Via Roma

Christmas on Via Roma, the street where we lived in Florence, is celebrated like no other neighborhood where we have ever spent the season. Early in December, trucks deliver numerous terra cotta tubs containing perfectly formed evergreen trees that are carefully tucked against the exterior walls of the shops for blocks around. Once the planters are in place, each tree is decorated with white fairy lights. Similar white lights are strung across the street high above the pavement and while each block features the same dazzling color, every design is subtly different, so that when you look up and down...

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The dogs of Tuscany

Yesterday afternoon’s Tuscany workshop was a great success. Putting together local tour operators with people from Tuscan hospitality services was a brilliant idea and a suitable launch for Enzo Colombo as he takes up his new post in Toronto as director for Canada of the Italian Government Tourist Board. I arrived at the Columbus Centre in time for the evening event which included a speech by Enzo as well as a wonderful videotape of Tuscan scenery and art treasures which brought back many memories. Among the many items portrayed was Donatello’s David, my favorite work of art in all of...

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Buon Natale

The first Christmas card to arrive at our house this year is from Angela Caputi, a wonderful jewelery designer and entrepreneur we met while living in Florence. Angela was one of many local artisans who opened her doors and her heart to us while we were there. I showed up unannounced at her retail outlet on Via Santo Spirito and could see her working at her desk through a glass wall. When I spoke to one of her assistants about meeting her, there was no hesitation, and Angela immediately came to the shop floor. Angela speaks excellent English, far better...

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Tuscany in Toronto

Anyone who has traveled on the Toronto subway system or visited New York’s Grand Central Station recently could not help but see a sophisticated ad campaign about Italy. With the slogan “Italy for life” the two dozen different posters go beyond the usual photos of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to portray everything from spas to locations for business meetings. The posters sing about “landscapes where emotions come alive,” “culture that inspires” and “artistic beauty that fascinates.” You don’t need to convince me. Still, I wanted to find out more about the campaign so I called the Toronto office of...

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The future of books

The strike by the Writers Guild of America offers a glimpse into the future of intellectual property and how people get paid for cranial creativity. At the moment, 20 per cent of all U.S. homes have TiVo, which means TV programs can be downloaded and watched whenever the viewer chooses – without having to bother with the commercials. A recent New York Times article flat-out declared this means the end of television and drew a parallel to how vaudeville performers must have felt when talking movies arrived. If there are no eyeballs watching soap ads, why should Dove bother spending...

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Angels without wings

Of all the people we met in Florence, the one with the most impact was Peter Porcal, the resident art historian for the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). Now in his early sixties, Peter has led his “children” for more than two decades. That’s Peter pictured at the top of the blog adroitly holding a spray of peppers. Click on the photo to enlarge it for a closer look. Every Wednesday morning, he takes successive classes of students somewhere in Florence to see Renaissance art. He also leads day trips and weekend excursions to the antique sales in...

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