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Palazzo Pitti

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Rent, Sell and Manage Properties in Florence and Tuscany
NEWSLETTER december 2011

Florence is at her glittery best in December as most neighborhoods sparkle with tiny holiday lights. This year is starting out balmy, but it can all change with a dusting of snow on the Duomo before the New Year celebrations.

We are wishing you a December filled with family, festivities and friends from SUZANNE, CORSO, BEI, SANDRA, LORI, ANNA PIA, ANN and MARIO.



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.


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.


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.

Museo Stibbert

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.


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.


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!

Fiorentina’s Results

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!


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.


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.



On December 16, at 7:30pm, the St. James Episcopal Church will hold its annual Christmas Gala, an exciting evening of great music and dancing, gourmet cuisine and a live auction hosted by Dario Cecchini, featuring fine wines and other exclusive items. The Mayor and the US Consul General are expected attendees, and the Rector will have his "dance card" available.

The Christmas Gala celebrates the historic St. James church and its role in the Florence community. For more than 100 years, the vibrant St. James church has been at the heart of the English-speaking community of Florence, contributing to the city through its varied programs, including art and music, adult education and many local and international outreach initiatives.

The Christmas Gala, one of the St. James' most important annual fund-raising events, is a great opportunity to open the church's doors to all friends and family in the Florence community. Special features this year will include a guest appearance by Nehemiah Brown and the Florence Gospel Choir.
Tickets are 50 euro. For more information write to info@stjames.it .


On Friday 16th December, at 7:00pm, plan to enjoy "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" the Advent Concert at St Mark's English Church. With Musical Director Filippo Ciabatti (piano) and produced by John Hoenig, with guest soloists Martina Corsi (mezzo) and Samantha Robinson (trumpet) the evening will get you into the holiday spirit.

The concert is a multimedia journey through the history of Christmas and sacred music from Renaissance to present day, including music by Byrd, Tallis, Bach, and Handel as well as traditional carols.

All donations will go to support the Music Fund so the church may provide more concerts.

St Mark's English Church, Via Maggio, 16 www.stmarksitaly.com


Do not miss this! On Sunday 18, from 10:00 am. to 4:00 pm. the Four Seasons Hotel will open its lovely and extensive private garden to the public, offering roasted chestnuts, vin brulè and hot chocolate to all. With this initiative the new Four Seasons hotel has begun a Christmastime tradition that benefits the Istituto degli Innocenti.

The 1 euro symbolic entry donation (and any extra) goes directly to the Istituto which was founded with funds donated nearly 600 years ago by Francesco Datini, a merchant from the nearby town of Prato. In 1416 Datini left the princely sum of 1,000 florins to the silk guild (Arte della Seta), money with which the guild officers were able to raise many more florins for Datini's chosen cause. The guild oversaw construction of the famous building, a masterpiece designed by Brunelleschi. In 1445 the institute opened its doors and took in 62 abandoned children, the first of many thousands to come.

The park may be accessed from the main gates located at Via Gino Capponi 54 and Borgo Pinti 97 and Piazzale Donatello 12. Call the Four Seasons Hotel for further info: 055 26261. http://www.istitutodeglinnocenti.it


For the 15th year in a row, from now until mid- January, you can ice skate in downtown Florence. The skating rink is open to the public daily from 10:00 am to midnight at the Paterre near Piazza della Libertá. Entry fee including skate rental: 6 euro. If you love skating, think of spending New Year's Eve on ice ... they have a special party planned. Call for info: 055 0517447 or 3356749849.


On December 8, from 9 am - 7 pm, Piazza SS Annunziata will be animated with a can't-miss crafts and organic food countryside Christmas fair. You will find hand-woven dresses and ponchos, Christmas wreaths, beeswax candles, naturally scented soaps and oils, home-baked bread and cakes, ceramics, wine, olive oil, olive wood salad bowls and more.


From Fri. 16 to Sun. 18 don't be shocked if you spy a golf ball flying off the oldest bridge in Florence. For three days the Arno River turns into a golf course. Twelve players from 12 countries tee off from the Ponte Vecchio toward four floating greens anchored in the Arno. This year, the most unique golf course in the world, open just three days a year, will see defending champion Jan-Are Larsen return to the bridge after back-to-back victories in 2008 and 2009. Film and sports stars will also give it a go, among the 500 other guests who get to take a whack. Most of the action will take place daily between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. The unusual rules and regulations read as follows:

FORMAT - The Championship will be decided by Match Play, contested by 12 players representing 12 different countries, with the first round played to the ROUND ROBIN MEDAL format. The 12 players will be drawn into FOUR groups each of FOUR players who will play against each of the other players in their group in the First Round. The players will play to three floating greens positioned at varying distances on the River Arno. The 'greens' will each have a point's value as follows: 'green 1' (nearest the Bridge) 4 points, 'green 2' 7 points, 'green 3' (furthest from the Bridge 10 points).

ROUND ONE - Each group of THREE players will hit TEN balls (one ball at a time, alternately). To earn points, a ball must land and remain on the respective 'green'. No player is allowed to score more than four times from the same green. If a player scores four times from the same green he shall hit the ball to another green otherwise the score of the ball will be void. The player accumulating the most points from the ten balls shall be declared the winner of the group. The winner of each GROUP goes forward to the Quarter Finals. In addition to the group winners, the four players with the most accumulated points after the winners, will also go forward to the Quarter Finals.

SUBSEQUENT ROUNDS - The Quarter Final draw will be as follows: 1. Winner of Group 1 plays 4th Best Runner Up Score, 2. Winner of Group 2 plays 3rd Best Runner Up Score, 3. Winner of Group 3 plays 2nd Best Runner Up Score, 4. Winner of Group 4 plays Best Runner Up Score. The winners of the first two Quarter Final matches will contest the first Semi Final match, with the winners of the third and fourth Quarter Final matches going through to contest the second Semi Final. The two Semi Final winners will then meet in the Final. A match will consist of each player hitting SIX ball (TEN on the Final), with each player hitting one ball alternately. The player accumulating the most points from the six shots shall be declared the winner.

PRIZE MONEY - Winner Euros 15,000, Runner Up 10,000, Semi Final Losers 3,000, Quarter Final Losers 3,000, First Round Losers 3,000. Check the website for details. Tel. 0552768506. www.pontevecchiochallenge.it.

PALAZZO STROZZI EXHIBIT – Money and Beauty. Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities

Masterpieces by Botticelli, Beato Angelico, Piero del Pollaiolo, and the Della Robbia family – the cream of Renaissance artists – show how the modern banking system developed in parallel alongside the most important artistic flowering in the history of the Western world. The exhibition also explores the links between that unique interweave of high finance, economy and art, and the religious and political upheavals of the time. Money and Beauty. Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities at the Palazzo Strozzi recounts the birth of our modern banking system and of the economic boom that it triggered, providing a reconstruction of European life and the continent's economy from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

Info: +39 055 2645155 E-mail:  http://www.palazzostrozzi.org/SezioneDenaro.jsp?idSezione=1214
Opening times: Daily 9.00-20.00, Thursday 9.00-23.00
Tickets sold until one hour before closing time.


Where is your mayor when you need him or her? Next week you may run into your hometown mayor in Florence. Over 400 mayors from cities around the world will be in town from December 9 to 11 for the World Council 2011 of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the largest meeting of local governments in the world. The UCLG event will host mayors, their delegations and some 112 municipal associations from 36 countries. During the three-day conference, mayors from New York to Jakarta will discuss a number of key topics, including sustainability and innovation and other strategic priorities of UCLG. The sessions will be held in Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo dei Congressi. In addition to the discussion sessions is an array of collateral events and round tables that are open to the public and translated in four languages, including English. For more information and the complete program, see www.cities-localgovernments.org; http://en.comune.fi.it/uclg.html; and www.firenzefiera.it.


On Sun. 18 between 9am - 7pm take yourself down to Piazza Santo Spirito just before Christmas and find what Santa (or his faithful helpers) has been handcrafting for very good children. You can check out all kinds of stands offering foods, ceramics, hand-knit sweaters, beeswax candles and everything you need to make heartfelt gifts, especially if you are shopping for kids.


The last Tuesday of December (Tues. 27) take advantage of free evening entry into some of Florence's most interesting museums. The following sites will be open gratis from 7:00 to 11:00 pm: Cappelle Medicee, Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello, Museo di San Marco on Piazza S. Marco, Palazzo Davanzati on Via Porta Rossa and at the Pitti Palace: the Galleria d'Arte Moderna and the Galleria Palatina.


For lovers of Italian art, it's as close as you can come to ascending a stairway to heaven and looking angels in the eye. For the first time after a major restoration, the scaffolding that has shrouded the 850 sq m (9,150 sq ft) of frescoes of the Cappella Maggiore in Florence's famed Santa Croce Basilica will not be dismantled immediately.
The scaffolding erected for the restoration will stay in place for another year or so, and small groups of visitors will be allowed to view the splendid work close up. Guided visits on the nine-level scaffolding, last for about 40 minutes.
The restoration of Agnolo Gaddi's fresco cycle is one of the most important projects in Italy. It was financed in part by Japanese businessman and patron of the arts, Tetsuya Kuroda, who donated almost 1.2 million euro; an equivalent sum was provided by the Opera di Santa Croce. The federal arts ministry provided 285,000 euro in funding, in addition to arranging for the assistance of restorers from the Opificio delle Pietre Dure.

Excellent instructions about the logistics (and there are quite a few), costs, and time schedule can be found at the following website: http://www.santacroce.firenze.it/english/informazioni/visite/

ORIGINAL LANGUAGE FILMS – Talking Movies at the British Institute

The Talking Movies Series at the British Institute Library. Every Wednesday at 8:00 pm, the Sala Ferragamo in the Institute's Harold Acton Library hosts a film, followed by discussion. The British Institute Library, Lungarno Guicciardini 9.

The present series is a bilingual selection of the joint and individual work of the two great cinema legends – Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini. It begins one of Bergman's movies from her classic Hollywood period: the Hitchcock classic Notorious. Rossellini's war time trilogy follows - the neo-realist masterpieces that brought the world's attention to Italy in crisis, Roma, citta' aperta, Paisa' and Germania anno zero. Bergman and Rossellini made 5 films together between 1950 and 1954: Stromboli, Europa 51, Viaggio in Italia, La paura and Giovanna d'Arco al rogo. Their scandalous marriage (and collaboration) broke up in 1957. Both went on to make further notable contributions to cinema, among which are one of Rossellini's last films - before moving to television - Il generale della Rovere, and Bergman's last film role in Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011, 20.00
Film: Il Generale della Rovere
Rossellini returns to the Resistance period of the Second World War for one of his last fiction films before devoting himself almost entirely to television and documentary. 1930s matinee idol and fellow Neo-realist director Vittorio De Sica plays a con man arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and made to impersonate a Resistance leader. More of a Hollywood Golden Age movie than a revisited Neo-realist throwback, the movie won the New York Film Critics' "Best Foreign Film" award in 1960 and the Golden Lion at the 1959 Venice Film Festival, and was a box office hit. Rossellini felt he had betrayed his Neo-realist ethics with this venture into mainstream cinema.
(in Italian with English subtitles)
Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 20.00
Film: Autumn Sonata
Autumn Sonata/Höstsonaten (1978) is in effect Ingrid Bergman's swansong. Sweden's two most famous Bergmans work together for the one and only time in this intense drama of a troubled mother-daughter relationship. Bergman plays the mother Charlotte, a celebrated concert pianist who visits her daughter (Liv Ullman) after an extended separation. Another daughter who is severely disabled adds to the trauma. The movie earned Ingrid Bergman some of the most enthusiastic acclaim of her career; she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and she won the same honour from the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle.
(in Swedish with English subtitles)

MINCE PIES & DICKENS - British Institute of Florence

Every Wednesday at 6:00 pm, the Sala Ferragamo in the Institute's Harold Acton Library hosts a free lecture, concert or other event, followed by an informal reception. The British Institute Library, Lungarno Guicciardini 9.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 18.00
A Christmas event with Mince Pies
Charles Dickens was born in 1812, so we are shortly to celebrate his 200th anniversary. During his lifetime his name became synonymous with Christmas, so that on hearing of his demise in 1870 a London costermonger's little daughter exclaimed, 'Mr. Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?' We present a selection of Christmas readings from Dickens and his contemporaries, concentrating on the startling and the grotesque, as well as on the seemly and the beautiful.


With no end to the pot-holes in sight, bicyclists in Florence are always in search of a great repairman. P&F has found him. Giovanni Becucci has operated his workshop in narrow Via del Corno (toward the river from Piazza Firenze, behind the Hotel Bernini) for years. His work is precise and better yet he will get you back out on the cobblestones in a timely manner.

Giovanni Becucci
Via del Corno, 12/R+50122 Firenze
tel. 055 2398005
hours 9 to 13; 14 to 18.30
Friday Sat Sunday closed.


Want to brush up on your Italian since your last visit to Florence? Want to know what to say at the market, the trattoria and the shops? Want to keep your kids busy for an hour a day before they start the school year at the International School? Francesca Carboni teaches Italian at very competitive prices. Her students love her. She will come to you home (or home away from home) and is a good teacher for the whole family. Francesca may be reached at 3932852661 or francescacarboni@libero.it


Saturday, December 31, put your warmest coat over your fanciest clothes and head to central Florence for at least three free outdoor concerts. While the final schedule is yet to be announced, traditionally Piazza della Signora hosts a classical concert starting around 11:15 pm. This year (as last) look for jazz, pop and rock to be happening in Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza della Stazione, Piazza Santa Maria Novella and Piazza SS. Annunziata.

Ring in the New Year at the Fortezza da Basso at a celebration from 10 p.m. on December 31 to 8 a.m. on the first day of 2012.  With different rooms of the center featuring different music styles and international DJs and performers, you choose the ambience right for you to celebrate the New Year in Florence.



On 21 December 2011 the New Florence Opera House will open with an extraordinary concert by Zubin Mehta. The new opera house designed by the architect Paolo Desideri was undertaken by the Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri with funds made available for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy and with contributions from the Regione Toscana and the city of Florence.

From 21 to 31 December the New Florence Opera House will open with a series of great concerts that will bring to town some of the world’s most celebrated conductors and soloists together with the artists of the Maggio: Zubin Mehta, Stefano Bollani, Claudio Abbado, András Schiff, Fabio Luisi, Radu Lupu, Leonidas Kavakos, Patrizia Ciofi, Fabio Sartori...

The inaugural events will conclude on New Year’s Eve with a sparkling festival starting with a concert of Italian operatic repertory with Mehta conducting. This will be the beginning of a new tradition that will come a few hours before the musical salutes to the New Year organized by the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and the Musikverein in Vienna.

The schedule for the New Opera House can be found at http://www.maggiofiorentino.it/?q=node/1852 .


The Maggio has a packed schedule of operas (Rossini’s Barber of Seville, and Puccini’s La Bohème) and concerts (James Colon conducting Debussy, Poulenc and Musorgskij and Pianist Martha Argerich with the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra ). See the calendar on the Maggio’s website: http://www.maggiofiorentino.com/?q=node/1852


Throughout the holiday season, the Amici della Musica of Florence present various concerts at the Teatro della Pergola.  Featured artists will include the Julie Fischer, Marc-André Hamelin, and the Zefiro Ensemble. Works by Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and Debussy are only a small sample of what will be performed.  See the schedule for concerts at http://www.amicimusica.fi.it/ .


Pinocchio Jazz, Viale D. Giannotti, 13, offers two nights of superb jazz this month.
Saturday, December 3

Salvatore Bonafede Trio (presentazione del disco "Sicilian Openipresentation of the album "Sicilian Opening")
Salvatore Bonafede, piano / Paul Ghetti, bass / Alessandro Pivi, drums

The music of pianist and composer Salvatore Bonafede is a synthesis of many experiences in Sicily and the United States (he graduated from U.C. Berkeley, then settled for many years in New York), the European tours, collaborations in film and theater, and with musicians such as Joe Lovano, Paul Motian and Ralph Towner. An artist with a distinctive personality, Bonafede melds his compositions the melodic sense of the Italian tradition with the lessons of great American jazz. Affiancato dalla empatica coppia ritmica Ghetti-Pivi, il pianista presenta un repertorio di brani originali e poetiche rivisitazioni, tratti dal suo ultimo disco “Sicilian Opening”(JazzEyes).

Saturday, December 10

Fabio Giachino Trio
Fabio Giachino piano /Davide Liberti, bass / Ruben Bellavia, drums

Winner of the prestigious 2011 Massimo Urbani Award as well as other awards and critical aclaim, Fabio Giachino from Turin bring his trio to Florence for a night of sublime jazz.

Saturday, December 17

Anderson-Bennink-Möbus-Gerum-Van Kemendade
Ray Anderson, trombone / Han Bennink, drums / Frank Möbus, guitar / Ernst Glerum, bass / Paul van Kemenade. alto sax

Legendary artist Han Bennink, joins a list of prominent musicians from the international scene: the American trombonist Ray Anderson, (5 times winner of Down Beat Critics Poll) avant-garde German guitarist Frank Möbus, as well as award-winning members of the Dutch jazz scene, Ernst Glerum and Paul van Kemenade. Il quintetto, in tour in Italia per presentare l'ultimo lavoro discografico “Who is in Charge?”, arriva al Pinocchio con un carico di swing esplosivo e coinvolgente, per una performance che si annuncia ricca di sorprese, come sorprendente è stato definito il giocoso e alchemico interplay che si sprigiona tra i suoi virtuosi elementi. The quintet is touring in Italy to present their latest album "Who's in Charge?" The performance promises to be full of surprises.


The Virgin Mary's belt, given, legend has it, to the Apostle Thomas when she ascended to heaven, is kept in a magnificent reliquary (Maso di Bartolomeo 1406–1456) housed in the equally beautiful "Pulpit of the Sacred Girdle" (Donatello and Michelozzo) on the external façade the Duomo. It is taken out five times a year amid much religious pomp and mediaeval drum rolling to be shown to the crowds massed on the piazza. These occasions include 8 September (celebration of the nativity of the Virgin Mary) and December 25 and 26. The story of how the girdle arrived in Prato is illustrated in the chapel immediately to the left of the entrance of the Duomo in Agnolo Gaddi's fresco cycle of "The Legend of the Holy Girdle (1392-95)".


Olio: Sapore, Sapere, Salute is a Festival of all things related to Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. December 8-11 in Piazza Terra Madre in Greve go taste, buy and learn about the special qualities of the green Tuscan olive oil of the Chianti Classico region.

The tiny town of Chiocchio, located between Florence and Greve celebrates the holiday from 2 December to 4 December with food, wine, olive, oil and crafts. Tel. 055 8545271, Tel. 055 8546299


The Piazza del Campo will be full and festive due to its special bowl design. The historic pageantry adds to this special holiday market that runs from Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4. 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, including chocolate from Umbria, bread from Sardegna, and Christmas decorations from Trentino.


We hope that you spend December in the warm circle of family and friends. Remember to spend some time strolling through the glittery streets of Florence after dusk and enjoy welcoming the New Year while appreciating the past

All the best,

Pitcher and Flaccomio