I am wandering up Via Cavour. It is 2:30 in the afternoon and the only thing on my mind is where I should go to get something to eat for lunch. It could be said that it is somewhat late to be thinking about lunch but I did get up from my comfortable warm bed at an embarrassingly late hour. Here I keep my room very dark for expressly the purpose of sleeping late. Continue reading
About 6 months ago I wrote a post which lists many of the museums and galleries in Firenze. I divided it into two parts, those I had visited and those I still have to see. My plan was to just strike through the plan-to-see places and add them to the bin-there, done-that list as I visited. The current spell of wet weather has been ideal for spending time indoors and I have managed three strike-throughs so far. My original idea was not to comment any further above maintaining the list, however, in the words of Robbie Burns “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry“. Continue reading
Today I planned to visit the Palazzo Strozzi which is hosting an exhibition of late 19th and early 20th centuries ‘religious’ art under the title Divine Beauty from Van Gogh to Chagall and Fontana. Two things come as a surprise in that first sentence. Firstly that I had made a plan of any sort this early in my holiday and secondly, that I chose to look at art work that was not medieval or Renaissance this early as well. These are things that usually happen when I have run out of time and energy. At the same time as I climbed the grand staircase to the Strozzi’s exhibition space, herd of school children can running up the stairs behind me with their teachers and minders. Given that they were RUNNING up the stairs I was getting ready to have my enjoyment spoiled and composing in my head the piece I would write about how children are all the same. Ah, but fair reader … read on! Continue reading
When ever family and friends in Sydney ask me about feeling safe in Italy, my response is always that I feel as at ease here as I do at home. Of course, I take the usual precautions that I do when I am at home. I make sure that I know where are the unsafe areas, which all communities of people have regardless of the hype. I don’t walk alone in dark places at night. I am friendly and smile at people but I don’t let myself get taken in by anyone. Continue reading
Amongst the many Twitter feeds that I subscribe to is one generated by The Florentine Weekly, an English language newspaper which alerts visitors and expats to the current goings on in la bella citta. Usually I read the first few pages which have stories about what is going on. I drool for a short time and then move on to my next task. Continue reading
I have gone past the half way point of my stay in Italy and my thoughts have turned to finding small gifts to take home to my family to assure them that I really have thought about them while I was enjoying my “Me” time. The upshot of this is that I have to sometime go into shops that are not on my usual round. Continue reading
For someone like me who is primarily a visual learner, there is a danger that the experience of being any where, let alone somewhere out of the everyday can be only partly experienced. I often worry that I am missing out on a big part of what there is around me because I spend so much of my energy concentrating on the things that I see. Continue reading
Unlike the people who write some of my favourite blogs about Firenze who live here for six months or more each year, I have four short weeks to observe and enjoy all of the things that this city has to offer. The big picture things are the ones that continually capture my eyes and my imagination, things like the art in the Uffizi, the Academia and Palazzo Strozzi, or the architecture of the Duomo and the Palazzo Vecchio. There is always something that I haven’t observed carefully on a previous visit which clammers for brain space. Continue reading
When I first thought about using my very childlike Italian in Italy I thought that I would embarrass myself and the people that I was trying to communicate with. What I did not take into the account was the Italian people.
Although I have now visited Italy many times my Italian is still very tentative but I am no longer afraid to experiment with language. Almost every Italian I have tried to talk to has been very patient and the conversation often turns into a language lesson. I have even made friends through these ad hoc language lessons.
During the course of my usual five weeks in Florence a couple of years ago, I have my breakfast in the same cafe every morning and found that I often went there for lunch or dinner as well. I started to know the names of the staff at Caffe Maioli, across from the southern end of the Ponte Vecchio and they started to remember my particular favourites for food and drink. I tried really hard to speak in Italian and to understand what they were saying to me. If I would make mistake one of them would correct me in the most gentle and friendly manner.
I learned the names of my favourite pastries very quickly because I could not have it unless I asked in Italian. I particularly enjoy a ciambella which is an Italian version of the donut but much, much nicer. There is a recipe for making this sweet treat on this web site but I think it’s better to have someone else make it for you.
I recommend that you go and visit Caffe Maioli for a coffee and a treat. Smile and be nice to the barrister and leave a tip because they do work very long days to keep us feed. Remember that it is the norm in Italy to pay more to eat at a table than it does to take your coffee at the bar. You are also in the thick of the tourist area so expect prices to be higher.
Tell them Roberta from Australia sent you.
Italians take food and eating very seriously. They are very rarely seen rushing about the streets with food in their hands. Food is something that should be focused on. Street food outlets are not common but in Florence, especially near the markets at Sant’Ambriogio and San Lorenzo there are mobile food outlets catering to the workers. These vendors, called lampredottai, appear to only sell one or two items but they are very popular with the locals who wait patiently for their turn at the window. Having made their purchases, the customers don’t wander off with their food. They will stand around together, enjoying their lunch. Continue reading