Photo of the Week: Simple Beauty

Photo of the Week: Simple Beauty

Beauty…

Beauty can be found in unexpected places… in the silhouette of a dead tree, standing stark against the evening sky, or the mud on rows of dead cornstalks on a blustery winter day. Or in the oil spilled rainbow of colors swirling in the puddle of rainwater on the street.

Linda Poindexter

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Monthly Markets: Ciompi Antique Fair

Hello all you market lovers! We are coming to the final Sunday of the month and this means I need to discuss my neighborhood antique market in Piazza dei Ciompi (near Piazza Ambrogio on the northeast side of Florence). This wonderful little nook of the city is not on the standard itineraries of Florence, but should be! Besides having an interesting history (to be discussed below), this little piazza is home to a permanent antique/flea market open Monday through Saturday. Should your schedule not permit you to stay in the city for one of the regular monthly markets, this piazza is full of treasures and trinkets to satisfy any market lover’s thirst for the old and/or the odd.antique_florenceIf, however, you can work it into your schedule, on the last Sunday of month the market doubles in size and draws antique sellers from all over Tuscany for the day. Though the products are similar to those you find at the Fortezza da Basso antique market, this is much more centrally located. Piazza dei Ciompi is also situated among a slew of places to eat, drink and enjoy your Sunday along with a side of window (or real) shopping. It is my favorite place to go to convince myself to buy the various items I think I need, but clearly don’t. For example, those vintage snowshoes from the 1940s that look like they were designed by someone as mad as Leonardo. Yes, I need those. You never know when a blizzard could hit Florence. Have you seen my photos of last year’s blizzard in Rome? I want to be ready this time and the Ciompi antique market is here to help.
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Photo of the Week: Carnival!

Photo of the Week: Carnival!

This past weekend we were back in Rome and to our delight and surprise we found ourselves right in the middle of the Carnevale celebrations. As per usual, this involved people in costumes (not quite to the level of the famous Carnevale in Venice, but a valiant effort nonetheless), children in adorable mini costumes (very similar to Halloween in the states), and confetti. Lots and lots of confetti (see image above). I have always enjoyed these February festivities and nothing beats accidently and fortuitously stumbling into a gaggle of mini people dressed up as zebras and princesses chucking confetti everywhere. This year, however, I realized that I really had no idea what any of it had to do with the Catholic religion. So, I did a little research. Turns out, not much…not directly anyway.
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Sandwich Wars: All’Antico Vinaio

Battle No.3
The Challenger: All’Antico Vinaio
For rules, regulations and a fascinating review of sandwich history, see here. For our current rankings, see this blog’s side bar.
 
YES! It’s time for Sandwich Wars again!
Quick review: after the first throw down between Fratellini and Da’Vinattieri, we tossed in the first challenger, The Oil Shoppe. Sadly, they fell a bit short leaving Da’Vinattieri as the reigning champ with their killer Porchetta sandwich going into Battle #3 with Contestant #4.
 
I was really rooting for someone to come along and make a solid grab for the title this month. In the hopes of just such an event I was forced to face an old foe: the small but popular sandwich spot known as All’Antico Vinaio on Via dei Neri. This place has had lines and crowds in front of it since I first came to Italy in 2002. Like those people who avoid Harry Potter, I thought I was too cool (read: scaredy cat) for a place that was so clearly awesome. No surprise, as with many things that are popular, this place is popular for a reason. Like me, you’ll just have to learn to suck it up, jump into the fray, and elbow your way to the front like the old Italian ladies. It is more than worth it.
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Photo of the Week: Michelangelo’s Love-Hate Relationship with Fresco Painting

Photo of the Week: Michelangelo’s Love-Hate Relationship with Fresco Painting

There are so many things in Italy that cannot be captured on film, in a picture, a book, by a poem, ode or interpretative dance. The Sistine Ceiling is one of them. Well, let’s be honest, it’s the one. The number of oversized books and posters with endless reproductions and diagrams dedicated to this one space still cannot even begin to communicate the feeling you experience when you’re physically standing in that room looking up at Michelangelo’s love-hate relationship with fresco painting. Many others, who worked their entire lives on painting (and did nothing else), didn’t come anywhere close to this masterpiece. Not even compared to the ceiling closest to the entrance wall of the chapel, where Mich is still figuring things out and is, perhaps, a hair short of his normal state of perfection.
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