Oscars…Italian Style

With the 83rd annual Academy Awards ceremony just a few days away, it is a prime time to look back on the fascinating history that Italian films share with the coveted golden boy himself – Oscar.

Italy has garnered 27 Academy Award nominations and 13 wins for Best Foreign Language Film, more than any other country. I hate to admit it, but France is right on Italy’s tail 12 wins. Italy has received a total of 27 Academy Award nominations for Best Foreign Language Film. This award is given annually to a feature-length motion picture produced outside the U.S. that contains primarily non-English dialogue by United States Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929. Prior to 1956, the Academy presented Honorary Awards to the top foreign language films. During this time, 3 Italian films received Honorary Awards. It wasn’t until 1956 when the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was first handed out. La Strada, Federico Fellini’s neorealist drama, was the first film to win this special award. Continue reading…

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Tuscany Bike Tour: Put The Fun Between Your Legs!

When people ask me for travel tips or recommendations for fun things to do in Florence one of the first activities that comes to mind is the Tuscany Wine and Bike Tour. Of course some other, more obvious, sites come to mind as well. However, the Tuscany Wine and Bike Tour has proven to be one of few SURE THINGS when it comes to the satisfaction and enjoyment of countless friends, family members, and students I have recommended it to.

Two happy customers about to hit the road

Anyone, regardless of age, athletic ability or inability, interest or disinterest in wine can appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of such a tour. A few years ago, I moved from Florence back to the U.S. unsure if or when I would return. I had a long check list of things to do and see before my departure. I spent hours planning where I would spend my last dinner, what I would order, what my final gelato flavor would be, and which route I would take for my last Florentine walk. With one day left to enjoy in Italy there was clearly only way to spend it – with my closest friends on the Tuscany Wine and Bike Tour. Here is why… Continue reading…

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Day Trips Outside Florence

Siena's main Piazza, the Campo

I noticed this article about Florence on the Huffington Post the other day that lists 8 great day trips outside Florence. They are absolutely right that the city can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and crowded and that, luckily, it is easily accessible to many other amazing cities that will feel significantly less crowded and just as picturesque (if not more so). The winners according to the Huffington are:

1. Siena. Couldn’t agree more. A wonderful city with some amazing vistas and killer food, not to mention the most gorgeous Duomo around. Continue reading…

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Florentine cultural heritage November 2010

It was Florentine Cultural heritage week this past Novemebr (12th-20th) and people weren’t messing around. The star of the show was a replica of Michelangelo’s David (made of a mixture of fiberglass and marble dust) which was placed on top of the Duomo (see photo) to recreate the statue’s originally intended home. That’s right. When Michelangelo first put chisel to marble he thought he was making a work that would be one of many to adorn the base of the domes of Florence’s (already very well-decorated) cathedral. However, when Mike was finally done, the finished product was so beautiful they simply could not relocate it to that hard-to-see spot so far off the ground. So they got a group of important Florentines together –including Leonardo da Vinci– to discuss where the statue should be placed. Continue reading…

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Italian clowns…i think

There are a plethora of street performers in Florence. There is the wind guy. He specializes in looking as if he is being blown by wind (it looks cooler than it sounds). There is pirate/flag guy. I really never figured out what he was supposed to be but he looked amazing posing precariously on the side of the Arno.

Some of Florence's Street performers

There is the Charlie Chaplin guy. He has been in Florence for years and always does the same act, something that only really works in tourist cities like Florence and New York. I still get a kick out of watching him if only to see what unsuspecting tourists he pulls from the crowd and how he manages to communicate to them what to do. One night in particular that I remember watching his act the crowd was apparently not living up to his standards and he told them (in Italian) that he wanted them to piss off. It was very out of character because otherwise he seems like a very nice guy.
These lovely gents were all fixtures of the city. They lived there, worked there, slept there, and other things that I choose not think about too. I used to watch Charlie Chaplin drink his beer and put on his makeup at the same time at the bar by my house. He would put on his little moustache while helping the guy who dressed up like cupid and stood by the Uffizi giving out kisses and pictures for Euro. However, the best performers I ever saw in Florence were only there for two nights, two hilarious and glorious nights. Continue reading…

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