BEST EXTRAVAGANZA FOR DECEMBER –AILO Holiday Bazaar
On December 8th each year the American International League of Florence Onlus (AILO), founded in 1975, organizes a bazaar, which is held at the Scuderie Reali (Le Pagliere) near Porta Romana. There will be all types of clothing plus purses, gloves, scarves, evening gowns, cocktail dresses, jewelry (diamonds, or not) and hats. Toys for children should also be on your shopping list. Bring the kids, too; there will be games and activities.
Once again there is a lottery full of wonderful prizes with tickets already flying out the door, so call any member of the AILO or phone Pitcher & Flaccomio at 0552343354 for tickets or purchase them at the door. (The lottery drawing is scheduled for 2:30pm) There will, of course, also be food and drink galore! Suzanne and everyone at P&F look forward to seeing you on Thursday, December 8. We’ll be there early (10:30am) for the best selection.
The Christmas Bazaar is actually a year-long project for league members, with lots of organization behind it! Members propose charities and their needs, which are then voted on in a certain order. There is no question that decisions in 2011 are difficult, as there is more need than ever. Over the years, AILO has raised over €400,000.00 for Florentine charities. The top ten charities that have been voted to receive funds this year are as follows:
APES 'Assistance for People who are Alone'
LILT (Italian League for Cancer Therapy)
Banco Alimentare della Toscana (Italian Food Bank in Tuscany)
ERAM (Music Therapy for neurological disorders)
Tuscan Association for Cancer Research
P.a.m.a.p.i. - Day center for severely retarded autistic young adults
OASI - Halfway house for young offenders released from prison or refugees in transit.
Casa di Riposo Piccola Bettania (rest home for the elderly)
ProAnimals Onlus - Care of abandoned dogs and cats
Associazione Insieme Onlus - community center for recovering addicts.
Please do your best to help them reach their goals. Open: 10:30am to 6:00pm.
P&F PICK APARTMENT RENTAL FOR DECEMBER – The Best of Both Old and New
With the best of the old (parquet floors and wood-beamed ceilings) and the best of the new (built in closets and double-glazed windows), this month’s centrally-located apartment has lots of space with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a spacious kitchen. Just ask for December’s Pick Apartment (available rentals from one week to six months). For more information, check this link.
MUSEUM FOR DECEMBER – Stibbert Museum
Those people with a passion for knights in shining armor will love the Stibbert Museum. However, those with a passion for almost anything else will also find reason to love the Stibbert museum. Frederick Stibbert, a British aristocrat (1838-1906), was an eccentric, eclectic packrat who traveled extensively, collecting paintings, furniture, bronzes, umbrellas, china and ceramic dishware and knickknacks, candle sticks, fans, and most every kind of antique.
Stibbert’s main obsession, however, was for armor and weapons. He obtained thousands of suits of armor from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The most impressive room displays a “cavalcade” where a procession of ten 16th century armored horsemen astride armored horses, twelve armed soldiers on foot, and four Islamic costumed horsemen appear to march under the gaze of a statue of St. George and the defeated dragon. Stibbert also collected costumes. The museum contains rare and important examples of European, Islamic, and Japanese dresses, both military and civilian.
One of most historically interesting costumes is the regal garments worn by Napoleon in 1805 when he was crowned Emperor of Italy, displayed among Stibbert’s extensive collection of Napoleonic artifacts and memorabilia.
The museum comprises over sixty rooms of the historic villa that was the Stibbert home. The villa is fascinating in its own right; it is located in the foothills at the edge of Florence and is surrounded by one of the few original unspoiled Italianate gardens, with exotic plants and a small lake.
The Stibbert Museum has a special exhibit, "The Renaissance of Italian Majolica", on view at the museum until April 15th 2012. The splendor of the enamels, the iridescent luster, the pictorial quality and eclecticism of the forms that dazzled visitors to the World's Fair will be the protagonists of this exhibition dedicated to the art of ceramics in Florence after the unification of Italy. A selection of nineteenth-century ceramics from the Museum of Bath, alongside the Museum's collection of majolica Cantagalli Stibbert, form the core of the exhibition, around which will be shown important loan items from such prestigious institutions as the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Museum of Ceramics in Sevres, by William De Morgan Foundation, London, as well as previously unseen pieces from private collections.
The museum is frequently empty because it is not in the center of Florence, but it is easily reached by taking a taxi or the No. 4 city bus from the train station.
Via Stibbert, 26 (City bus # 4 from train station)
Tel.: (055) 475-520
Open: Mon. – Wed. 10am – 2pm; Fri. & Sat 10am – 6pm; Closed: Thu.
Cost: 6 euro
Nearby Pizzeria: Pizzeria Spera, Via della Cernaia, 9/r; Tel. (055) 495-286 , Evening hours only; Closed Mon. (take-away pizza available); or take a picnic and dine in the gardens of the villa.
BEST MARKETS FOR DECEMBER
Hot mulled wine, great beer and a salty, smoky wurstel – all can be found right now in Piazza Santa Croce. The Mercato Tedesco di Natale (German Christmas Market) that started on November 30 and runs for two weeks. Traditional German food and craft products fill the square.
If you want to get out of town for a day, go to Siena. On December 1, the program "Christmas in Siena" will officially be launched with the opening of the lights and the ice rink and the Christmas village to the gardens of "La Lizza." But best of all, from Saturday 3 to Sunday, December 4, the market in Piazza del Campo will take place. Famed as Il Mercato nel Campo, this year there will be the section dedicated to the unification of Italy with 24 stands that will present varied crafts and food from all over Italy (Chocolate from Umbria, bread from Sardegna, Christmas decorations from Trentino ...). The Campo will be full and festive with its special bowl design and the historic pageantry adding to this special market experience.
BEST TRATTORIA FOR DECEMBER – Trattoria Cammillo
Founded in 1945 as a simple wine shop by Cammillo Tesi, the grandfather of the present owner, Trattoria Cammillo in Borgo San Jacopo 57r (tel. 055.212427), has gradually been transformed into a shrine of culinary research. All sorts of early seasonal products, like truffles and mushrooms, are served alongside the delicately light fried vegetables and meat so typical of the Tuscan cuisine, accompanied by a selection of fine Tuscan wines. The home-made desserts are particularly good. Situated in a 15th century building, the restaurant is very popular among the Florentines and offers a friendly yet elegant atmosphere that blends beautifully with the excellent food to be enjoyed there.
(Congratulations to Ristorante Ora d’Aria (P&F April ’11) for being awarded its first Michelin Star.)
FORZA VIOLA!! FOR DECEMBER – Florentine Calcio
Forza Viola! ... Meet the new boss! Same as the old boss? So long Mihajlovic. It seems that, after the Chievo game, he was asked to resign and refused – so the club fired him. In comes Delio Rossi. He took Lazio into the Champions League and Coppa Italia victory, then Palermo to successive seasons of European football. At both clubs, he left after falling out with the chairman! Mihajlovic is a proud and principled man. We would have given him more time. We wish him well but AFC Fiorentina is bigger than any individual. Forza Viola!
Week 11: Chievo-Fiorentina LOST 0-1
Week 12: Fiorentina-Milan DREW 0-0
Coppa Italia: Fiorentijna-Empoli WON 2-1
Week 13: Palermo-Fiorentina LOST 0-2
Primavera. The boys stride on. The youth team stay second in their league despite suffering their first defeat of the season at Livorno (of all places). The Under-16 side is also second while the boys are top of their table and continue to sweep all before them. Rossi must be hoping he can stay around long enough for all this young talent to mature for the big stage.
Serie A. You wouldn’t send a dog out in this. Two matches postponed because of floods; ours at Chievo went ahead on a lake, reducing the game to little more than a lottery – and Chievo scooped the prize. At least once a game, Fiorentina will gift-wrap a goal for the opposition, which we duly did; all of our players appeared to be out of position at the same moment. So, we need to score two goals to be in with a chance of winning; this we did not do. Keeping out Munari’s late header required a top drawer save but they rattled our crossbar late on. Not an inspiring afternoon. The media had us “in crisis”; within 48 hours, Sinisa is out, Rossi is in – the change was ready. Let’s hope they are inspecting the January transfer window to replace Montolivo, someone we can rely on to pass the ammunition to Jo-Jo, Gila and Cerci.
We have made a habit of losing 0-2 at home to Milan, so a goalless draw has to be an improvement. Milan are a Top Team, reigning champions and in contention for this year’s Scudetto; they are slick and the reports will tell you they dominated. But, as we have said before, football is about putting the round leather thing in the opponent’s onion-bag. Milan couldn’t do that. (They did but the referee ruled it offside – correctly, according to Stevie Wonder). And it was Pasqual’s drive that flashed wide late on. Milan were almost good enough to beat us but not with Artur Boruc ready with a couple of point-blank saves!
To Palermo, our new coach’s previous side. This was not good; we note that we have less and less to say about our games. Natali was sent off in the 89th minute and probably felt happy at missing the final seconds. Just as Bologna means Di Vaio, Palermo means Miccoli; defences know who is the main threat. Instead we ushered him through to smash past poor Boruc. We did strike the bar but we didn’t deserve it and we were invisible for a 73rd minute free kick (brilliantly executed, to tell the truth). There was no inspiration here, no sign that a new manager was turning things around. This leaves us in 16th position. There are only four teams beneath us. But fill the glass – while we are 3 points away from the relegation zone, we are only 4 away from European qualification. It remains tight and there is a long way to travel.
Coppa Italia. Striding on in the admittedly juvenile reaches of the cup, we welcome local upstarts Empoli and see them off without breaking the sweat of a second-string selection. A brace from Alessio Cerci is enough to overcome a late Empoli goal. We had all the possession and both the fans who turned up enjoyed a fabulous Ljajic volley that was tipped onto the bar. Into the last sixteen and Roma in December!
Next Month. Tough and tougher. Roma and Inter in back-to-back games – but we have the skill to beat Roma and if we stick to it we can hold Inter. Then the meat should be easier against newly-promoted Atalanta and a re-programmed Tuscan derby. Whatever happens in the first two games, we should finish on the up...........Forza Viola!
THE FIORENTINA SCHEDULE:
We don’t have the next cup date but this is the Viola pre-Christmas league schedule:
Week 14: 04 Dec/home Fiorentina-Roma
Week 15: 11 Dec/away Inter-Fiorentina
Week 16: 18 Dec/home Fiorentina-Atalanta
Week 1: 21 Dec/away Siena-Fiorentina [re-arranged]
Ticket information - seating plan, prices, and ticket outlets - is on the "biglietteria" section of the club's website [www.it.violachannel.tv ]. Tickets can be purchased at official box offices and holders of TicketOne lottery franchises. Sources include:
CHIOSCO DEGLI SPORTIVI, via degli Anselmi 1. Tel 055 292363.
BAR MARISA, viale Manfredo Fanti 41. Tel 055 572723.
BAR STADIO, viale Manfredo Fanti 3r. Tel 055 576169.
ACF OFFICIAL TICKET-OFFICE, via Dupre 28 (corner of via Settesanti).
NUOVO BOX OFFICE, Via delle Vecchie Carceri, 1, 50122 Firenze, Italy (inside the Murate). Tel 055 264321
FELTRINELLI FIRENZE, Via de' Cerretani 39/32R
BEST BOOK FOR DECEMBER – The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
This is what Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose) has to say about his newest book:
“The nineteenth century teemed with mysterious and horrible events: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious forgery that later inspired Hitler; the Dreyfus Case; and numerous intrigues involving the secret services of various nations, Masonic sects, Jesuit conspiracies, as well as other episodes that – were they not documented truths – would be difficult to believe.
“The Prague Cemetery is a story in which all the characters except one – the main character – really existed. Even the hero’s grandfather, the author of a mysterious actual letter that triggered modern anti- Semitism, is historical.
“And the hero himself, though fictional, is a personage who resembles many people we have all known, past and present. In the book, he serves as the author of diverse fabrications and plots against a backdrop of extraordinary coups de théâtre: sewers filled with corpses, ships that explode in the region of an erupting volcano, abbots stabbed to death, notaries with fake beards, hysterical female Satanists, the celebrants of black Masses, and so on.
“I am expecting two kinds of readers. The first has no idea that all these things really happened, knows nothing about nineteenth-century literature, and might even have taken Dan Brown seriously. He or she should gain a certain sadistic satisfaction from what will seem a perverse invention—including the main character, whom I have tried to make the most cynical and disagreeable in all the history of literature.
The second, however, knows or senses that I am recounting things that really happened. The fact that history can be quite so devious may cause this reader’s brow to become lightly beaded with sweat. He will look anxiously behind him, switch on all the lights, and suspect that these things could happen again today. In fact, they may be happening in that very moment. And he will think, as I do: "They are among us…”
BEST BOOK FOR KIDS FOR DECEMBER – Nonna Tell Me A Story: Lidia’s Christmas Kitchen
America’s favorite Italian-American cook, Lidia Bastianich, shares the story of the Christmases she used to celebrate in Italy with her five grandchildren. When Lidia was a child, she spent Christmas with her grandparents, where she learned to cook with her Nonna Rosa by preparing food in their smokehouse and kitchen. Lidia and her brother would also find a big beautiful juniper bush to cut down for their holiday tree. And they made their own holiday decorations with nuts, berries, and herbs they collected for their meals. This delightful picture book is filled with the story of Lidia’s Christmas traditions, delicious recipes, and decorating ideas all perfected over the years by Lidia and her family.
BEST DEAL FOR DECEMBER – The Treasure Rooms of Florence
Le Stanze dei Tesori, the initiative links “The Small Great Museums” of Florence – eight museums for ten euro: Museo Stefano Bardini, Museo Stibbert, Museo Horne, Fondazione Salvatore Romano, Museo di Palazzo Davanzati, Museo Casa Rodolfo Siviero, and Museo Bandini. Each museum has its special collection, many of them the personal collections of antiques collectors from the 19th century, the treasures they decided to keep instead of selling or auctioning around the world. These collections now are part of small, separate museums such as the Horne, Bardini and Stibbert – all named after the collectors themselves.
Ongoing until April 15, 2012, the museums are showing off their collections with a special focus on the Florentine artistic craftsmanship and the golden era of when private antiques collectors in Florence were very active.
The exhibit at Palazzo Medici Riccardi presents a general summary of the era, while the Stibbert Museum offers an international exhibit of Florentine “maiolica” created by Ginori and Cantagalli. The Bardini museum reopens its Hall of Paintings, with the original setup Bardini used to display the works, at the center of which is the newly restored 13th century crucifix by Bernardo Daddi. The Horne museum offers a collection of designs from Raphael to Constable, while the Palazzo Davanzati exhibits photographs by Elia Volpi that document the original furnishings of the house before they were sold in a large auction in New York during the Great War.
A very special way to see many treasures in Florence, particularly since a special “Treasure Pass” has been created at just € 10 to allow you to visit all* of the museums — a really good deal, since it also includes free entrance to the Fondazione Salvatore Romano, Bandini museum, Casa Rodolfo Siviero museum, the Ceramic Museum in Montelupo and the Museo della Manifattura Galileo Chini and discounts on entry to Palazzo Vecchio, the Brancacci Chapel, the Santa Maria Novella museum and the Richard Ginori of Doccia Works Museum.
See the website: http://www.stanzedeitesori.it for more information.
BEST HOT CHOCOLATE FOR DECEMBER
Regular readers will know that the staff of the P&F Newsletter has a serious gelato addiction. But now that the weather is turning colder (or might turn colder) we have the perfect excuse to indulge in another favorite Italian treat – hot chocolate, known as cioccolata calda. For those of you who think of a powdered and microwaveable mix when you hear the words “hot chocolate,” forget it! True Italian hot chocolate is closer to the pudding end of the spectrum, some of it being so thick so as to maintain a lightweight spoon in an upright position.This stuff is almost as much a meal as it is a beverage.
The most famous place to drink cioccolata calda is Rivoire in Piazza Signoria. Don’t sit down because you will have to take out a mortgage to pay the bill. Have your incredibly rich hot chocolate standing at the bar and take a while to sip it from a spoon because the clientele are people-watching-worthy. Feeling like an extra treat? Have cioccolata calda con panna – the barely sweet whipped cream is a good counterpoint to the intense chocolate.
The best place for cioccolata calda is Vestri, the Italian chocolate shop at 11 Borgo degli Albizi. Here, for a reasonable price, you can get hot chocolate made by the chocolate-maker, himself. There are two types of chocolate to choose from and you can get very creative with cinnamon or hot chili pepper powder. But when the gelato and hot chocolate craving hit at the same time, the Affogato is the way to go. First Leonardo pours in the hot chocolate (at your desired strength) and then scoops in the gelato of your choice. The most decadent choice must be 75% Venezuela Cru with Stracciatella (chocolate chip) gelato – first there is the hot chocolate hit followed by a spoon of creamy vanilla with chocolate bits. And at the end the gelato is gone, but there is a spoon or two of dark liquid hot chocolate with a couple of Vestri’s artisanal dark chocolate chips that makes you love that the season’s change.