The Best of Everything Italian

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The Best of Everything Italian If you want a real, authentic Italian experience in Italy you're going to have to escape the hotels. Forget the furnished tourist apartments. Get away from the center of whatever city you're visiting. Find yourself a home stay if you can manage it. Make friends with the Mama. Kiss cheeks, sit and tell stories, laugh, sympathize and mangia! with your host family. I once asked a friend who had lived in Rome for two years where to find the best food in the city. His reply was not what I'd hoped for: "Sorry, the best food is found in the kitchen of any Italian Mama." Until I had family dinner with my host family in Florence I didn't really understand that. I'd eaten great meals in various parts of Italy. But I'd never experienced what it is to have a family meal, an evening in, the hospitality, the bruschetta, the fresh mozzarella, the pasta, the advice and the writhing knot of social complexity! My "Mama" began cooking the day before our big family meal. In fact, her mother began cooking the day before as well. The refrigerator was soon full to bursting and on the day of the dinner food magically appeared from everywhere. Everyone brought dishes. When we all crammed into the dining room I squeezed into a corner spot at the table. We prayed and everyone picked up their forks. "No, no!" Came a voice from across the table and a woman on the other end made frantic motions toward me. I was made to move away from the corner of the table, because it was bad luck to sit there, "You won't find a husband for seven years!" it was translated to English and explained. I laughed and said I'd probably already served out my sentence and everyone laughed and then emphatically, apologetically agreed, in the way only Italians can. "But," they clarified, "you must not get married this year. Thirty-three is a very unlucky age because it is when Christ died." Fair enough. For the best of everything Italian, including the superstitions and family traditions, home stay. … continue reading

The Day Begins in Firenze

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The Day Begins in Firenze As I sit in on the steps of the piazza del Mercato nuovo e morning is just beginning here in Florence. The streets are still nearly empty at five minutes to ten, save one or two groups of travelers following a leader with an umbrella held high. I watch the bustle of merchants as they sweep the streets in … continue reading

Visiting Florence

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Visiting Florence Florence is an art lover's paradise. Birthplace of the Renaissance, Firenze today stands as tribute to the days of the Medicis and their trade and economical prowess, as well as their appreciation for the arts. If you're planning a visit to this fabled city allow yourself a bare minimum of three days to explore the … continue reading

An Errand in Florence

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An Errand in Florence While in Verona I began to make inquiries about finding a place to stay for a few nights in Florence. As I combed through Airbnb and TripAdvisor (per usual for me) I felt very strongly that my housing in Florence would be found via a different avenue, but I had no clue what that could be. I was a little bit … continue reading

In Fair Verona

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In Fair Verona In the North of Italy, not too far from Venice lies Verona, the fabled setting for Shakespeare's ill-fated lovers, Romeo and Juliet as well as two other Shakespear plays: Taming of the Shrew and Two Gentlemen of Verona. Often overlooked by tourists in favor of the larger, flashier Northern Italian cities (Milan and … continue reading

Villa Borghese

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The largest island in Lake Garda is actually a series of islands, both natural and man-made and atop it sits a beautiful Venetian-Neo Gothic Palazzo called Villa Borghese. The "island" has been inhabited since Roman times and it's occupants include Romans, Monks, Napoleon's regime and a slew of private aristocracy. Today the island … continue reading