Friday, June 24, 2016

My Feast on St John the Baptist Feast Day

This feast day, similar to the saint day held in each Mexican city, is only celebrated in Florence. Banks and schools were closed so there were no classes at the British Institute. Tonight, fireworks will mark this special day for St. John the Baptist.

From my perspective, it was a great day to rest, try to absorb the world-changing news of the Brexit passage, and finally eat a delicious lunch of porchetta. If you're unfamiliar with this Tuscan bit of culinary ingenuity, here's a New York Times article that will explain it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Washday in Florence

                No one can accuse Italian sheets of being boring.

Handbag Heaven

A good friend requested photos of the new handbag I bought in the leather market, the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, so here it is!
I've been told, and hope it's true, that handbag hardware is a good indicator of quality. The hardware on this bag looked particularly sturdy.
Don't forget to bargain. While credit cards are accepted here, you will get a lower price for cash. The price of my bag dropped €13 because I paid cash. Had I been a bit more aggressive, as I would have been in Mexico, I'm sure the price would have dropped even more.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fashion Forward in Florence


Artist Jenny Bush is in the foreground.
While I was still dazzled by the Karl Lagerfeld presentation in the Pitti Palace--the thirty-foot long photo penants of fashion models interspersed among the equally impressive chandeliers in The White Room fluttered in my memory--I decided to do a bit of shopping on my own.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

In the Cucina

In Tavola cooking school divided us into groups of five per kitchen station while two chefs instructed and monitored our progress--or lack thereof. My group consisted of a Brit, an Australian, and a mother and daughter from Minnesota. Here we are using the pasta machine to compress and stretch the dough we made by hand.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I Can See! Tightwad Travel Tip


In Europe, where electricity prices are astronomical and there never seems to be enough light in any accommodation--hotel or apartment--this little led light is invaluable.

The adjustable light slips into one of your laptop ports and provides just enough illumination for your keyboard. I bought this one at Ikea for less than $5. I will never leave home without it!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Would You Rather....


...enjoy a day starting with a delicious breakfast omelette at your hotel, followed by an afternoon repast in a cafe sipping wine and sampling exotic cheeses, before a late dinner at an osterio recommended by guidebook expert Arthur Frommer? Or would you rather eat in your own apartment?

Yes, I'd prefer the first scenario, too. But I'd also like to win the lottery, have naturally curly hair, and wake up at least twenty pounds thinner. I'm afraid the first dining scenario is no more likely for me than the others (Although I'm still holding out hope for the lottery.), but I have found a way to compromise so I still get the best of a city's cuisine while remaining on a budget.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Room with a View

The only problem with views is that you must climb a steep hill to see them.

Florence as seen from Fiesole.
But such is the power of a view that a number of famous folks have made the trip to Fiesole, a town roughly five miles northeast of Florence. At one time or another, Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas,  Frank Lloyd Wright, and even Debi Mazar, cooking channel star, lived here. Robert Browning, whose former home is just around the corner from my flat here in Florence, mentioned Fiesole in his poem "Andrea Del Sarto."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Happy 535th Birthday!

Today is Mona Lisa's birthday and Florence is celebrating!

Via Squazza, the street where Mona Lisa was born.

Sharing Bathrooms in Italy

Open Letter to North Carolina and Tennessee Lawmakers:

I thought you might like to know that Italians have been sharing public bathroom facilities for almost a hundred years.

This is the "necessities room" at the British Institute of Florence. The women's toilet and the men's toilet are steps away from each other in the same  bathroom.