A shelf with a view

There are several excellent bookstores in Florence that carry English-language books, but the one we haunted most was Edison in Piazza della Repubblica. In addition to the usual guides, art books and novels, Edison also carried such popular travel writers as Paul Therault, Bill Bryson, Frances Mayes, and the nonno of them all, Peter Mayle. Every travel writer pines for the same exalted category as Mayle’s best-seller, A Year in Provence, first published in 1989. I don’t expect to reach similar stratospheric success, but I wouldn’t mind rubbing shoulders with Mayle and the others, by placing copies of Fantasy in...

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Love in the time of Epiphany

This day, January 6, produced one of my favorite moments during our stay. Epiphany in Florence features a pageant with hundreds of individuals in medieval costumes representing nobility, the military, and the city’s major industries. The official party, seated on the chairs on the Duomo steps, included church officials, local dignitaries, and representatives of regional organizations. Pride of place went to three Roman Catholic priests, all in black cassocks, with colorful hats signifying their status. Ennio Cardinal Antonelli wore red, the bishop violet, and the monsignor black. The officials presided over an hour-long parade as couple after enrobed couple strolled...

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La vera storia d’amore

If there’s one thing an author enjoys (beyond giving readers pleasure), it’s hearing that an interview went well and the published description aptly captures the subject. Such was the news in an email I recently received from Sandra Cemulini who runs an exclusive travel agency you can read about at http://luxury-services.net/default.aspx Ms. Cemulini knows Stefano Bemer, the custom shoe maker who I spent some time with in Florence watching him work and seeing his passion for the leathers, skins, hides and other items he uses for his creations. Stefano is such a pleasure to be with that Daniel Day-Lewis, who...

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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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