Photo of the Week: Fiesole Walk

Photo of the Week: Fiesole Walk

Looking for a picturesque and doable walk into the hills around Florence, through some beautiful back roads, and with some award winning views? We’ve got you covered. In fact, thanks to our recent move out of the city center we’ve found the perfect 1-hour walk out of the clogged centro and up into the quiet and charming Tuscan hills. The walk leaves from Piazza delle Cure and takes you through some magical winding roads (with several fun stops on the way) to the main piazza of the gorgeous hilltop town of Fiesole. For those of you who are not interested in an uphill climb (which for the last 20 minutes can get a bit steep), but would still like to enjoy this lovely town, jump on Bus #7 (picks up in Piazza San Marco and drops you in Piazza Mino da Fiesole). For those of you who don’t mind the burn or are looking for an excuse to eat more pasta tonight, read on. Continue reading…

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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.
Continue reading…

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Photo of the Week: Spring in Italy!

Photo of the Week: Spring in Italy!

Wisteria. In Italian it is called glicine (GLY-she-ne) and it is one of the telltale signs of spring here in Italy. It starts blooming over walls, under gates, and around corners from inside hidden gardens you never knew existed. Even if you can’t see it, the streets are suddenly full of the fragrance of these delicate purple flowers, letting you know that it’s springtime again. Like most of the April and May blooms, they only last a few weeks, so I take every opportunity to hunt down the best and most fragrant examples. This particular display of sprawling branches all stem from a single trunk and spread out over the entirety of a large canopy covering a courtyard outside Pompeii. Apparently, it’s one of the wisteria plant’s particular abilities to grow quite far from its main source. The largest known example spreads over 43,560 square feet.

While I was researching wisteria to learn more about this amazing plant (technically in the pea family), one site described them thus: “Among their attributes are hardiness, vigor, longevity and the ability to climb high.” I think that is exactly the kind of plant we all need to see in spring. (For now we’ll just ignore this other little detail: “mature wisteria can become immensely strong with heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems. These will certainly rend latticework, crush thin wooden posts, and can even strangle large trees.”) Aw. They’re very pretty and don’t know their own strength. Sounds like a lot of people I know.

Happy Spring.

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