What is in Season: Zucchini Flowers (Fiori di Zucca)

This month I tackle: Zucchini Flowers.
Before moving to Italy I had never even heard of zucchini flowers (aka fiori di zucca), let alone seen one. Perhaps I missed them at the grocery store. Perhaps they were in a special aisle. Perhaps they were too implausible for me to comprehend. Or, more likely, I thought they were simply decorative and not edible and conveniently designed for stuffing with cheese. Had I known this, I assure you, I would have made every effort to find them. Luckily, once I moved to Italy, these decorative AND delicious treats became a reality and one that I looked forward to every late spring and summer.
These yellow and green flowers grow out of the side of the zucchini like enormous claws. When they’re in season, you can either buy the zucchinis with their flowers still intact or, at certain stores and markets, just the flowers. Since I cannot imagine getting through the quantity of zucchini required to yield the quantity of flowers I desire on a daily basis, I usually go for the pre-separated flowers. Quality-wise they are roughly the same and cost less without all the extra zucchini attached. Once you’ve found them, purchased them, and brought them home, the question is, of course, how to make these beautiful blossoms into a delicious dinner.
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Photo of the Week: Lucca & Alfredo Catalani

Photo of the Week: Lucca & Alfredo Catalani

While this may look like a dream, it is in fact a real place. A place that feels a little like a dream every time I go there. A place called Lucca. This photo was taken from atop the city’s 16th-century walls that are now home to a park/promenade that circles the city. A park on top of a wall, you ask? Well these are not just any walls. They are more than 10 meters (almost 33 feet) tall, and up to 30 meters (almost 100 feet) thick at the base. On top of all those fun measurements, this massive defensive structure is almost 2.5 miles long. There is a whole other world happening on top of these walls. You can walk on them, ride bikes around them, take a nap in the grass that grows on them, or just enjoy the view from 33 feet above the stunning city of Lucca.
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Finding Florence in London

In a week we will be taking a much-awaited trip to London. I have been looking forward to it for months and, of course, getting slowly overwhelmed by how many things I want to see. If it wasn’t obvious already, I have a bit of an obsession with Italy and Italian Renaissance art. So of course, I am going to England, but everything I want to see is Italian. I know, I know. But it’s just one of those ridiculous things (I blame 19th century art dealers) that in going to London, I will get to see some of the most important works of art from Renaissance Florence. So, instead of fighting it, I thought it would be fun to try and recreate Florence in London: what to see, where to eat, and where to sleep to make me feel at home, away from home.
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Photo of the Week: Notte Bianca

Photo of the Week: Notte Bianca

This is not photoshopped.
 
On April 30th, the city of Florence celebrated Notte Bianca, an all-night event with performances, exhibitions, and late opening hours for stores and museums all over the city. The night leads up to May 1st, the day of the worker, a holiday from work for almost the entire city. Each year the Notte Bianca events focus around a theme that plays out all over the city’s main piazzas and public buildings. The theme this year was “Volare,” to fly, and it included incredible displays on tightropes, dances the sides of buildings, opera singers hoisted into the air by cranes, and enormous sculptures floating overhead, such as the one pictured above in Piazza Santa Croce.
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Art in Florence: Top Twenty Artworks to See Before You Leave

ART_IN_FLORENCEAs adamant fans of the art in Florence, it often breaks our hearts to hear that travelers to this fair city miss out on some of Florence’s renowned works. Of course there are many reasons to visit this multi-faceted town, but one of the main motivations has always been to see Florence’s breathtaking painting, sculpture, and architecture. According to UNESCO (although it may be a somewhat Western centric view), 60% of the world’s most important works of art are located in Italy and approximately half of these are in Florence.
 
Art_of_florenceEveryday we see tourists herded into the Uffizi and Accademia as if they are the only two museums in Florence and countless more make the mistake of thinking that because there is no line outside the many other museums and churches, that there is nothing to see inside. On the contrary, there are many places in Florence that are full of masterpieces and (relatively speaking) empty of tourists. In response to this trend, we’ve made this list of the art in Florence that (we believe) everyone should see before they leave (in truth, the list is WAY longer than this. We had to narrow it down. And then narrow again); some works will be familiar, while others, I guarantee, will be completely new.
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