Porca Miseria

You know that you are in Italy on election day when it is punctuated by finding the perfect winter artichokes.  Upon proudly presenting their photo as a still-life on Instagram, I noted slyly that I would rather talk about carciofi.  It had been a long election cycle and, as a historian, I was weary of …

Castagna

I once bought chestnuts in The States.  Overpriced little piles of those that had been rejected by the Italians had made their way begrudgingly to Whole Foods.  Their armor was seemingly impenetrable.  They were as invincible as an armadillo (no matter how many videos on YouTube seemed to suggest otherwise).  They offered a few bitter …

Old Bones

If there is nothing like the smell of napalm in the morning, then there is nothing like the smell of boggy earth being exposed in Florence after a nice long siesta.  The whole street smells like trouble. One unremarkable afternoon, three nondescript men appeared to set up a few seemingly benign detour signs with a …

Piccolo Mondo

In Disney World the “It’s a Small World” ride has been causing nightmares with its grade A creepy animatronics since the 1970s.  I was the consummate eye roller.  Was Pollyanna on deck when they designed this kum bay ya-esque view of global relationships?  To Disney’s credit, it is in Fantasy Land.  Well, these days just …

Giubbe Rosse

There are coffee shops and then there is Giubbe Rosse.  Giubbe Rosse has been a jewel on the south side of Piazza della Republica in Florence since it was founded by the German Reininghause brothers in 1897.  I can imagine the Florentine’s marveling at the bright red jackets of the German waiters.  I am quite …

10 Mighty Euro

Small Italian businesses hate making change.  The shop owners are squirrels hoarding coins and burying them away.  Innocently producing a paper bill can be trauma inducing.  Who can blame them?  A trip to the bank here is a nightmare.  You will age about 20 years waiting for help.  And while you are sitting there, you …

Secrets

Florence exists in layers.  It takes a lifetime to peel them back.  Yes, like an onion, she can make you cry.  The veneer of the city is best admired by gazing down at the city from San Minato al Monte.  The Romanesque gem has stood watch over Florence since the 11th century.  The first time …

Io Sono Qui

Italy is essentially a study in duality.  A gorgeous veneer blankets a sometimes grisly reality.  Allora, if I may throw us right into the depths of a bureaucratic abyss?  The American Consulate’s website here in Florence specifically says that Americans can remain in Italy for 90 days as tourists with no need for a permit …

A Few Final Farewell Farewells

If you don’t mind a mind blowing rhetorical trick.  Two words, both the same, one is an adjective and the other a noun.    It is a polyptoton.  Fitting for my fixation on farewell.  Curtain calls are not the time for subtle alliteration.  There quite simply is no time.   I have been a Virginia for …

The Bastian

It doesn’t matter if you are an adult.  When you set out on an adventure the age old adage, trumpeted by the well-meaning choir, is “have fun but, for Christ sake, please be careful”.  You just never know what might happen if you behave badly.  Actually, I do know. In 1845, Heinrich Hoffmann published “Der …