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Palazzo Pitti

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Rent, Sell and Manage Properties in Florence and Tuscany
NEWSLETTER December 2014

Florence is at her glittery best in December as most neighborhoods sparkle with tiny holiday lights. We hope that you spend December in the warm circle of family and friends. And with them, spend some time strolling through the streets of Florence after dusk to see everything in a new light and enjoy welcoming the New Year while appreciating the past year. Happy Holiday wishes from SUZANNE, CORSO, BEI, LESLIE, VANNI, ANNA PIA, ANN and MARIO.



On December 8th each year the American International League of Florence Onlus (AILO), founded in 1975, organizes a Christmas Bazaar, which is held at the Scuderie Reali (Le Pagliere) near Porta Romana. There will be all types of clothing – evening gowns, cocktail dresses, casual attire, coats, kid’s togs – plus purses, gloves, scarves, jewelry (diamonds, or not) and hats. The book table is a special treat with books for both youngsters and oldsters. Also, toys for children can fill those holiday wishes on your shopping list.

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 prizes will include jewelry, clothing, dinners at fine restaurants, wine, gift cards, handbags, furniture, spa treatments, cooking classes, and so much more. This year there will also be a fabulous Silent Auction, so bid early and often.

There will, of course, also be food and drink galore! Bring the kids, too; there will be games and activities. Everyone at P&F is looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, December 8. We’ll be there early (10am) for the best selection. The fun will end all too soon at 5pm.

The Christmas Bazaar is actually a yearlong 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 2013 were difficult, as there is more need than ever. Over the years, AILO has raised over €1,000,000 for Florentine charities.

Please do your best to help them reach their goals. Open: 10:00am to 5:00pm.

P&F PICK APARTMENT RENTAL FOR DECEMBER – Florentine Hideaway with a Terrace

This is the place in Florence that anyone would love for a month or two or three. Out of the madding (or maddening) crowds, across from Piazza Tasso with it’s great trattorias, and under the Bellosguardo hill with its fabulous hiking paths and spectacular views.

With classic architectual details and modern furniture, refurbished kitchen and bathrooms, and a office, internet and satellite TV hookup, comfort is assured. That’s all before you walk out on to the huge quiet terrace with vine covered pergola.

For more information click this link.


The Carmelite order at the Monastery Santa Maria del Carmine al Morrocco invite you to enjoy Christmas music and tea at their church in Loc. Morrocco near Tavarnelle just outside of Florence. On Sunday, December 14, at 4pm this annual event at the 15th century church is one of the most popular ways to start your celebration of the holiday season.

HIGH TEA FOR DECEMBER – Holiday Tea at the St Regis

Every afternoon from December 12 through Epiphany, enjoy a holiday high tea in the luxurious courtyard of the St. Regis Hotel. A wide choice of refined Damman Freres Teas are selected by the Tea Sommelier, macarons, sandwiches and scones are served for those who appreciate the finest things in life and know that a slow afternoon during the hectic holidays is good for the mind and soul.

Euro 16 per person.


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 in late November and runs until December 19. Traditional German food and craft products fill the square, there are also seventeen other countries represented in fifty stands. Don’t forget to try the apple strudel and the hot mulled wine!

Fierucolina Dell'Immacolata on December 7, from 9 am - 7 pm, Piazza SS Annunziata will be alive 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. Head on over after shopping at the AILO Holiday Bazaar for a bit of gift buying with a Tuscan flair.

Fierucolina Di Natale on Sun. 21 between 9am - 7pm take yourself down to Piazza Santo Spirito and find what Santa (or his faithful helpers) has been handcrafting for very good children. You can find all kind of stands offering foods, ceramics, hand-knit sweaters, carved wooden toys, and unique gifts, especially if you are shopping for kids.

Mercatino in a Palazzo: Gourmet products and gift ideas, with proceeds going toward the non-profit organization FILE's palliative care support. December 12 to 14, 10am-7pm, Palazzo Corsini, Lungarno Corsini 8. See www.leniterapia.it for information.

For high quality artisanal crafts to make a special holiday gift, go to the market at the Old Conventino at Via Giano della Bella 20/1, 200 meters from Piazza Tasso. Open Sunday, December 7 from 10am to 7pm.

If you want to get out of town for a day, go to Siena. On December 6 and 7, the program "Natale Mercato del Campo" will officially be launched. Famed as Il Mercato nel Campo, it comunal piazza will be full and festive with its special bowl design and the historic pageantry adding to this special market experience. There is also the opening of the lights and the ice rink and the Christmas village in the gardens of "La Lizza" in Piazza Gramsci, running until January 2, 2015.

BEST BOOK FOR DECEMBER – Italian Food Rules by Ann Reavis

Our own newsletter author has written the perfect stocking-stuffer book for anyone who plans to spend the New Year’s Eve or any part of 2015 in Italy. P&F has shared many of the Italian Food Rules in the newsletter over the past couple of years and this little book is the perfect place to find them all together.

Italian Food Rules can help you and those you love in the following situations:

Did the waiter in Rome sneer when you asked for butter for the bread or for a cappuccino after dinner?

Did your Venetian grandmother slap your hand when you reached for the Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on her spaghetti alle vongole?

Did the Florentine guest in your home turn pale when offered leftover pizza for breakfast?

Did the fruit and vegetable vendor at the Mercato Centrale yell at you when you checked out the ripeness of his peaches or scooped up a handful of cherries?

In Italy, they love making rules, although they seem to obey very few. When it comes to the national cuisine, however, the Italian Food Rules may as well be carved in marble. They will not change and are strictly followed. Visitors to Italy violate them at their peril.

When in Italy, enjoy being Italian for a few days, weeks or months, by learning the Italian Food Rules, taking them to heart, and obeying each and every one of them.

You can buy the Ann’s book at the Paperback Exchange in Florence and on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.it and at www.barnesandnoble.com.

BEST BOOK FOR KIDS ALL AGES FOR DECEMBER – Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit: How the Grinch Stole Christmas in Latin by Dr. Seuss

Anyone who claims Latin is dead should take a look at this book. The translation of Quomodo Invidiosulus nomine Grinchus Christi natalem Abrogaverit reminds us of just how alive Latin can be.” -- Kenneth Kitchell, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Certainly the child in every Latinist will be delighted to read this old favorite of Dr. Seuss.” -- Ginny Lindzey, Texas Classical Association

It's something sill, I thought, and in LATIN, no less

Write a review? What to do? I was confused, I confess.

But, once I cracked it to take a good look,

I saw there was quite a lot to this book.

The Latin is easy and spunky and quick

and I laughed when the Grinch tried to look like St. Nick.

There are plenty of figures of speech in this writing

alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia are there for the citing.

And for those who like a word list near re ought to be MORE!

They reminds us that Latin does not just survive


and it needs us to help it to thrive.

So three cheers for the Tunbergs, Dr. Seuss, and Bolchazy!

For without them, I think, we could all become lazy. -- Margaret Brucia

(There is a Latin vocabulary in the back of the book for adults who need a little help.)


Zibibbo 2.0, a sprig of the historic venue in Careggi, has opened in the city center and embodies the perfect fusion of tradition and innovation Tuscan and Mediterranean dishes.

Located in a historical building, on a narrow street running south from Borgo degli Abizi, the restaurant has an elegant courtyard where you can eat when it’s warm and which leads to three small dining elegant rooms with plenty of space between the tables for an intimate feel.

The menu is a blend of traditional Tuscan and Mediterranean cuisine in a modern version. Preparations are made with high quality raw materials, but above all with strict attention to their seasonality.

Among the starters, you can enjoy a delicious liver pate with Porto flavored orange sauce and brioche bread or a more traditional creamed salt cod, fried and with salad. The pasta is made in house, try our favorite spaghetti with a cheesy Monte 27 sauce or one the fish based first dishes, like spaghetti alla chitarra with octopus and zucchini, or the Ravioli with eggplant, tomato slices and buffalo mozzarella. Main courses include meat and fish specialties, simple and refined, such the stuffed roasted boneless pigeon and crusted sea bass. Try the cheese cake with bitter oranges and chopped almonds or anything with chocolate for dessert.

Visit the wine cellar where over 200 different wines rest waiting for your selection.

Ask about the “Dining Card” that offers 50% off at lunchtime.

Zibibbo 2.0, Via delle Seggiole 14r, Firenze - 055 2466462 - www.ristorantezibibbo.it


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 at 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.

Another Tuscan chocolate-maker, Catinari has recently moved to Via Sant’ Elisabetta offering two styles of creamy hot chocolate, and finish out your tasting at the new place, Venchi (from Torino), across from the loggia with La Fontana del Porcellino, the wild boar statue.



December 8 in Italy is a national holiday that celebrates the Immaculate Conception. This day of festivity unofficially starts the countdown to Christmas as many Italian families traditionally use this day to set up and decorate their Christmas tree and Nativity scene in their homes.

On December 8 in Florence's historic center the large Christmas tree is set up in Piazza del Duomo. The lighting of the Christmas tree is accompanied by an official public ceremony with the participation of Florence's Mayor. Also in Piazza del Duomo, the impressive Nativity Scene is built in the front and left of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The Nativity has life-sized beautiful statues made in terracotta by an artisan of Impruneta. Both the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene are up until January 6, the day of Epiphany.

In the Cathedral of Florence, the traditional Christmas Eve Mass is celebrated by the Cardinal of Florence at midnight (Vigil prayers start at 11pm). On Christmas morning, the Mass is celebrated at 10:30am, in conjunction with the Pope blessing in Rome.


Extended to January 6, the special exhibit at the Uffizi, entiled The Pure, Simple and Natural, is a chance to walk through an uncrowded part of the museum and see a collection of paintings from famed Renaissance artists (16th and 17th centuries) that have not hung on the museums walls for years.

The write-up of the exhibit by the Uffizi is for scholars, but it can give you an idea of what you will miss if you don’t get to the Uffizi this month:

From the pages of his Lives (1568), Vasari attributed a fundamental role in the ‘rebirth’ of modern art to Florentine artists Andrea del Sarto and Fra’ Bartolomeo, placing them beside the triumvirate formed by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. Their excellent and highly inventive artistic production based on the constant practise of drawing stood out for honesty of invention and perfect imitation of nature, from the flesh to the vividness of the affections.

The exhibition seeks to illustrate this identity of Florentine art by means of a rich and serried cross-referencing of painting and sculpture. It is divided into nine sections for a total of some eighty works of art and thirty-five artists. The show opens with a scenographic dedication to two emblematic protagonists, Andrea del Sarto and Santi di Tito (Section 1), and a tribute to drawing from life as a tool of knowledge (Section 2).

The first part of the exhibition (Sections 3-6) will illustrate the development and persistence of the clarity and calm greatness of this course of Florentine art. Alongside these founding masters, a more adequate role is attributed to the Della Robbias, Sansovino, Franciabigio, Bugiardini and Sogliani who were mediatory artists in the development towards Bronzino, Poggini, Giovanni Bandini and the later generation of Ciampelli, Tarchiani, Vannini and Antonio Novelli.

In a direct comparison centred on three themes (the expression of affections, the evidence of everyday objects, and the noble simplicity of holy events), the second part of the exhibition (Sections 7-9) will enable the visitor to verify the effective consistence of this particular cultural legacy. A connotation of the figurative arts emerges in line with the new forms of spirituality varyingly inspired by the Savonarola tradition of austerity. Finally, there is a clear consonance with the purist developments of the linguistic debate that unfolded in the Accademia Fiorentina and the Accademia della Crusca.

The exhibition thus offers the opportunity to undermine the cliché of a very conservative Florentine civic culture, revealing the semantic changes and the instances of novelty inherent in the artificers’ loyalty to antiquity, thereby inverting a famous critical formula and shedding light on the ‘novelty of tradition’.

Uffizi Gallery until January 6, 2015 (closed Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Mondays).


Villa La Pietra is the outstanding historical villa and home of the New York University Florence program. Bequeathed to NYU in 1994 by Sir Harold Acton, the Florentine study abroad campus consists of 5 historic villas and 57 acres of gardens and olive groves. Villa La Pietra, the Acton Collection, and the Garden are maintained as they were by the Acton family and serve as an inspiration to all who live and study on the campus.

In leaving his family’s property and collection to New York University, Sir Harold Acton expressed his desire that the estate be used as a meeting place for students, faculty, and guests who may there study, teach, write and do research, and as a center for international programs. NYU accepted this exceptional gift with a commitment to this vision for the preservation, study and enjoyment of the collection and garden and the creation of an outstanding education program for its students and the public. Sir Harold Acton died in February 1994 and the first NYU students arrived in the summer of 1995. In this 20th anniversary year NYU honorS this vision with a series of talks, exhibitions and performances.

In 1998, Rudolph Rooms, an American conservation architect, undertook the restoration of the villa. He will make a presentation on December 4 at 6pm about the restoration.

The Restoration of the Villa

La Pietra and NYU Celebrating 20 Years: Sir Harold’s Vision Realized

Arch. Rudolph Rooms

Date: Thursday, 4 December

Location: Villa La Pietra

Time: 6:00 PM

RSVP (mandatory for entry) 055 5007210 or lapietra.reply@nyu.edu


The sound of Christmas carols will be heard around St. Mark’s on two Sunday evenings. On December 14 starting at 6pm there will be caroling around the Oltrarno followed by a sumptuous feast of mince pies and Gluhwein. On December 21, at 6pm there will be the Nine Lessons and Carols followed by more mince pies and Gluhwein.

St. Mark's English Church, Via Maggio, 16; and check out the fabulous new website: www.stmarksitaly.com


The Odeon Cinema is still in the midst of its great festival of film: 50 Days of Cinema. The Festival continues into December with documentaries in the Festival dei Popoli (November 28 to December 5).

Take your pick from 100 documentary films from around the world. Visit www.festivaldeipopoli.org for more info.

After the 5th (and a little rest) the regular schedule will start again with original language films. December 18–26, is Jimmy’s Hall, the film tells the true story of Irish political activist, Jimmy Gralton, who was deported to the United States in 1933. Then, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, screening on December 22 and 23. Finally, in the run up to the New Year, St. Vincent hits the Odeon screens from December 27–31, with a star-studded cast including Bill Murray, Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy. See the website for updates in the programme, www.odeonfirenze.comStop by the box office in Piazza Strozzi for a program.

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. Check the web site at www.britishinstitute.it/en/events/default.asp for times, dates, and detailed information or stop by the library for a brochure.

All about Eve?—A season of films by women directors

Is a film made by a woman different from a film made by a man? Why are there relatively so few women directors? Is there such a thing as a ‘woman's film'? Do men make better ‘women' films' than women? Do women make better ‘men's films' than men? Are films directed by women a class, a genre, a type in themselves? Do any of these questions matter? It is in asking questions like these, rather than answering them that inspiration for this series lies. Necessarily eclectic and seldom objective, with many significant and probably unforgivable omissions, the selection unfolds chronologically, offering a range of sensibilities, eccentricities, novelties, gender and queer issues, from the challenging to the banal, from light entertainment to political commitment, from the arcane to the depressingly familiar, from the comic to the disturbing. A cinematic kaleidoscope just like any other? (Non-English language films are subtitled.)

Weekly Cultural Programme

Talking Pictures

Reading Exchange

Other Events at the British Institute

Events in Florence

The Talking Pictures programme is open to all Harold Acton Library members and British Institute students. Membership of the Harold Acton Library is a requirement to attend the Cultural Programme lectures and the Talking Pictures films. Options include day membership at 5 euro which includes entrance to the talk, an informal drinks reception and the film. Please consult our Library pages at http://www.britishinstitute.it/en/library/membership.asp for more details about membership or ask at the Library. Members should bring their membership cards with them to show at the Library, if you have mislaid your card or it needs renewing please get in touch with us. Thank you.

The British Institute of Florence receives no public funding and welcomes donations to support our Library and Cultural Programme.


All about Eve?

A season of films by women directors

Is a film made by a woman different from a film made by a man? Why are there relatively so few women directors? Is there such a thing as a ‘woman's film'? Do men make better ‘women' films' than women? Do women make better ‘men's films' than men? Are films directed by women a class, a genre, a type in themselves? Do any of these questions matter? It is in asking questions like these, rather than answering them that inspiration for this series lies. Necessarily eclectic and seldom objective, with many significant and probably unforgivable omissions, the selection unfolds chronologically, offering a range of sensibilities, eccentricities, novelties, gender and queer issues, from the challenging to the banal, from light entertainment to political commitment, from the arcane to the depressingly familiar, from the comic to the disturbing. A cinematic kaleidoscope just like any other?

Non-English language films are subtitled.


Wednesday, December 03, 20.00

Film: LOST IN TRANSLATION by Sofia Coppola, 2003

Wednesday, December 10, 20.00

Film: UNRELATED by Joanna Hogg, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 20.00

Film: THE HURT LOCKER by Kathryn Bigelow, 2008


Every Wednesday at 18.00 from September to June there is a lecture, concert or other event in the Sala Ferragamo in the Harold Acton Library followed by an informal drinks reception.

Wednesday, December 03, 18.00

Lecture: David Mayernik

Dr David Mayernik, a practising urban designer, architect and painter, argues for a middle course - ‘emulation' - between imitation and invention.

Wednesday, December 10, 18.00

Lecture: Richard Owen

Richard Owen, former correspondent in Rome for The Times, has made use of previously unexplored letters and diaries of Rina Secker, wife of D.H. Lawrence's publisher, in order to reconstruct the great writer's turbulent Italian sojourn.

Wednesday, December 17, 18.00

Readings and music: British Institute staff and members

Our autumn-winter series ends with a programme of readings and music for Christmas.


The announcement hasn’t been made but we believe after two years of success the Four Seasons Hotel will continue the tradition so do not miss this! We believe that on Sunday 14, from 10:00 am. to 4:00 pm. the Four Seasons Hotel will open its lovely and extensive private garden to the public again, 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 one 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.

IF THIS EVENT IS SET 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: 05526261 or http://www.istitutodeglinnocenti.it

CATS AND CAMERAS – The Purrfect Pairing

Florence’s Fortezza da Basso hosts an intriguing two-day fair combining cats and cameras. The international cat show will have breeds from across the globe, from Persian to Bengal. Cat lovers are sure to find some feline friends here, as well as an area filled with cat objects and toys.

At the same time, the public can explore the section of the fair dedicated to vintage cameras. The vintage and modern camera swap is a new feature this year. See how well cats and cameras mix. We already know the answer from YouTube.

December 6–7, Fortezza da Basso


Wednesday, December 31, put your warmest coat over your fanciest clothes (and perhaps some long undies) 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 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 2015. 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.


At P&F, we believe only the Florentine businesses that offer good service with a welcoming attitude deserve our patronage. We are starting with this issue of the newsletter to let our readers know about small businesses in Florence where they will welcome you in and provide the service you want.

Salone Contrasto for Hair and Nails

Those who love the Aveda natural hair and skin products will be happy to hear that there are three hair salons and one spa center in Florence all under the Salone Contrasto umbrella. Sauro Nardi had a dream in 1997 to bring the fine Aveda products and client-centered services to both men and women in Florence. Now he has two walk-in hair salons and a new huge full service salon on Via dei Neri (53-55r). Rigorous training and a multi-lingual staff make this the go-to place for your holiday. The web site www.salonecontrasto.it/#!/page_Services is easy to navigate and provides a list of services and addresses for all of the stores. A full line of Aveda products are also on sale.

The spa services location Beleza e Natureza, is on Via Romana 30.

It has it’s own web site: www.belezaenatureza.it/servizi/

La Rosa Nera - Pianti E Fiori

For the most wonderful bouquets and holiday flower arrangements and a great assortment of exotic plants and flowers for holiday gifts or for yourself go to La Rosa Nera. Prices reasonable and they offer a delivery service.

Piazza Gaetano Salvemini, 16 tel: 0552638072

(We encourage our readers to write to us with suggestions of shops and service providers they support. Please send an email to info@pitcherflaccomio.com or newsletter@pitcherflaccomio.com .)



Throughout the holiday season, the Amici della Musica of Florence presents various concerts at the Teatro della Pergola.

The December schedule includes music every weekend (probably the Pergola is the best place to fill you holiday music desires.) Works Bach, Beethoven and Schubert are only a small sample of what will be performed.

See the schedule for concerts at http://www.amicimusica.fi.it/.

Teatro della Pergola, Via della Pergola, info: 055/609012 – 055 607440 - 055 2264333, and www.amicimusica.fi.it


The 78th season is coming to an end, but December is one of the busiest months for the Maggio Musicale. Go online to see the details for the Verdi opera Falstaff, the Zubin Mehta /Pinchas Zukerman concert, The Merry Wives of Falstaff also by Verdi (at the wonderful Teatro Goldoni), the Zubin Mehta / Anoushka Shankar concert, and the Christmas Concert (December 23 at the new Opera House).

Ticket Office Teatro Comunale

Corso Italia 16 - Firenze - fax: +39 055 287222

Tues. - Fri. 10:00-16:30 & Sat. 10:00-13:00

Tickets on line




Niccolò Fabi, Daniele Silvestri and Max Gazzè, each famous in their own right, are now joining forces on an international tour, Call Life Is Sweet. The trio have in fact been playing together for years and now, have the desire and shared curiosity that enables them to create music and re-invent themselves as they go. Their new tour comes to Florence on December 3, where new songs will be performed and old songs re-worked. See the website for tickets, www.mandelaforum.it December 3, 9pm, Nelson Mandela Forum, viale Pasquale Paoli.



Pinnochio Live Jazz is back for its 21st season, December 6, 13, and 20, with three jazzy concerts. The jazz quartet poLO (poli .oriented. Language Orbits) performs tracks from its new album, Back Home, on December 6. Their jazz style is an interesting mix of acoustic-electric, with indie rock and pop influences. December 13, welcomes pianist Stefano Maurizi with a jazz tribute to the Swedish pianist Esbjorn Svensson. The final instalment of the year, on December 20, showcases Mirko Guerrini & Friends. One of Tuscany’s most beloved saxophonists is back after an absence of two years. He takes to the stage with some surprise guests and new compositions. All concerts begin at 9.45pm. See www.pinocchiojazz.it for more information. Circolo Vie Nuove, viale Donato Giannotti 13


With electro beats late into the night, the Nextech Special on December 7 at Fortezza da Basso, is sure to keep your body thrumming. With music from some of the top international electronic artists, such as Sam Peganini, the only Italian techno DJ to have had record deals with three big labels, Nicole Moudaber, the Nigerian born DJ who took a stand against the police in Beruit and was arrested for organising an anti-conformist party, and German DJ Recondite, to name but a few. Lovers of techno won’t want to miss out! Visit www.nextechfestival.com for tickets and details.


No sounds of Christmas, except for possibly “I Saw Santa Kissing Mommy”, but he best 50s and 60s party will definitely put you in the party mood! Due to popular demand, the foot-tapping, vintage event is back in town. Twist and shout to the irresistible beats of rock ‘n’ roll, doo wop and blues, with some internationally renowned special guest musicians! If you’re finding it difficult to tease your hair into a super 60s style, there will be help on hand from Ketty-Vintage Style-Cinieri, who can pin it up in true vintage fashion. See the website for more information, www.viperclub.eu Viper Theatre, via Pistoiese at Via Lombardia, December 20, 9pm


December 8 and January 2, 2015 at the Teatro Verdi, via Ghibellina 99, festive seasons gets its start and its end with what is the most magical evening of ballet. Coming from the Staatsballett in Berlin, the Teatro Verdi in Florence is transformed into the winter setting of Swan Lake on December 8, for two shows at 4.45pm and again at 8.45pm. To celebrate the New Year, head back to the Teatro Verdi on January 2 for a rendition of The Nutcracker, performed by the Royal Moscow Ballet Company. For tickets, see the website www.teatroverdionline.it

Not to worry! … here are a bunch of events or exhibits that will still be happening in late December and January:


November 28–March 1, 2014

Go skiing, ice skating and tobogganing on the banks of the Arno at Obihall. After heading down the 80-metre piste on skis or a snowboard or trying your luck on the ice rink, indulge in some après-ski at the bars, enjoy a hearty meal at the restaurant or join in the many children’s activities. The park will remain open over the Christmas period (and on Christmas Day from 2:30pm); see www.firenzewinterpark.it for details.


Palazzo Strozzi in Florence is focusing on modern art once again with a major new event devoted to one of the greatest masters of 20th century painting, Pablo Picasso.

The exhibition presents a broad selection of works by this great master of modern art in an effort to stimulate a reflection on his influence and interaction with such leading Spanish artists as Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Juan Gris, Maria Blanchard and Julio González: art reflecting on art and on the relationship between the real and the surreal, the artist's heartfelt involvement in the tragedy of unfolding history, the emergence of the monster with a human face, and the metaphor of erotic desire as a primary source of inspiration for the artist's creativity and world vision.

Picasso and Spanish Modernity is showing some ninety works by Picasso and other artists, ranging from painting to sculpture, drawing, engraving and even film, thanks to the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi's synergistic cooperation with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. The works of art on display include such celebrated masterpieces as Woman's Head (1910), Portrait of Dora Maar (1939) and The Painter and the Model (1963) by Picasso, Siurana, the Path (1917) and Figure and Bird in the Night (1945) by Miró and Dalí's Arlequin (1927), along with Picasso's drawings, engravings and preparatory paintings for his huge masterpiece Guernica (1937), none of which have been displayed outside Spain in such vast numbers before now.


Tel. + 39 055 2645155

Opening times: Daily 9.00-20.00, Thursdays 9.00-23.00

Tickets sold until one hour before closing time.

Tickets: Full price € 10.00, Concessions € 8.50, 8.00, 7.50, Schools € 4.00



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 amassed in 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)".


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 14 and Sunday, December 15. Famed as Il Mercato nel Campo, this holiday market is one of the picturesque in Tuscany.


TuscanTraveler’s Italian Food Rules written by Ann Reavis has been published! Find a copy at The Paperback Exchange at Via delle Oche, 4r, or at Amazon.com.

ITALIAN FOOD RULE: Tripe Is Tasty To Tuscans

Tripe (trippa) is what Americans coyly refer to as "variety meats" and what some Italian aficionados (especially Florentines) sometimes call the quinto quarto (fifth quarter) of the animal. Usually it refers the lining of one of the four chambers of a ruminant’s stomach, usually a young ox. But a trippaio (tripe butcher and purveyor of prepared tripe) will sell the bits and pieces of the qinto quarto of veal beef, and pork. Italians, especially Florentines, swear that trippa is one of the Italian delicacies that doesn’t get enough attention.

When properly cooked, Italians claim these meats are delicious – tender, mild yet flavorful, without being overtly fatty. Trippa alla fiorentina is the white honey comb muscle of the cow’s second stomach cooked in a rich tomato sauce, but the classic is the pannino di lampredotto – long-simmered, light purpley brown from the cow's fourth stomach served at lunchtime with either a salsa picante (hot chili flakes and olive oil) or a salsa verde (parsley, capers, garlic and anchovies, among other ingredients) at one of the specialist tripaio carts parked on sidewalks and in piazzas, especially in Florence. The true skill, learned young, is how to eat this dunked-bread sandwich with saucy meat without getting it on your shirt or tie. The “lapredotto lean” creates the right angle with plenty of napkins to wipe your chin.

For a change, an Italian might ask for poppa (udder -- cooked for nearly eight hours to melting tenderness) on toasted bread or nervetti (tendons – more texture than flavor) cooked in tomato sauce.

The home cook will stop by a favorite trippiao and find creamy white or russet mats of tripe from all four chambers of the beef’s stomach, dominating the glassed-in counter, accompanied by ears, hoofs, cheeks, muzzles, testicles, udders, kidneys and other internal and external body parts of pork, veal and beef. Although you will probably not be served tripe as a dinner guest in an Italian home, the number of trippai doing good business in the Italian food markets show that tripe is being dished out at many an Italian family lunch table.

Try a mezza porzione (half portion) at your favorite trattoria next time you want to be Italian for a day.


Invitation to Newsletter Readers & Friends:

The Pitcher & Flaccomio Newsletter would like to invite readers and friends of readers to submit announcements of upcoming events that may be of interest to visitors and residents of Florence and Tuscany, provide shopping tips, and/or comments on what’s “right” or “wrong” in Florence (or the Newsletter). We can’t promise to put every announcement in the newsletter, but we appreciate your support, interest and messages.

Please send an email to info@pitcherflaccomio.com or newsletter@pitcherflaccomio.com .


We hope that you spend December in the warm circle of family and friends.

All the best,

Pitcher and Flaccomio