TRAFFIC CODE RED
In a hopeful attempt to save our lungs, Florence has slowly
but surely been outlawing the circulation of older, non-smog-efficient
vehicles. If you have been out on Florences viali
(the boulevards circling Florence) recently, you may have
noticed traffic boards telling us of new traffic restrictions
for 2008, mainly that Euro 0 and diesel Euro 1 trucks, cars
and scooters will have new limitations starting January 1.
If you, like me, have no idea whether your car is euro 1,
2 or 20
it turns out that euro-ness is printed on your
carta di circolazione (vehicle registration document)
To decipher the code on your carta, first find the words RISPETTA
LE DIRETTIVE (most likely) or CONFORME, or NON SUPERA IL
by a series of numbers. Then check the following website for
a translation of the numbers (there are five pages of options
dont lose hope). This code will then translate into
Euro 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. If you dont find the above
you are most likely driving a Euro 0 (old) car
or you need glasses. My carta reads rispetta le direttive
96/20 CE 96/69 CE, which turns out to be Euro 2 on
the antinquinamento scale.
The new Florence traffic rules state that older diesel vehicles
(euro 1) and euro 1 motorini (due tempi) are no longer allowed
to circulate at any time. Note that Euro 0 motorbikes and
scooters CAN be used. To decipher your code go to: http://put.edidomus.it/auto/mondoauto/attualita/pdf/dicheeurosei.pdf.
Ever in search of ways to reduce traffic, Florence has a new
taxi sharing plan with a fixed rate of 5 or 6 euro per passenger.
The new service, called Taxi Multiplo, is an organised, taxi-sharing,
car-pool, kind of thing. Look for cars with a yellow stripe
and a red-and-black logo, find at least two other people going
in your same, basic direction and hop in a taxi. The driver
will determine who gets dropped first.
The Multiplos (which also work as regular taxis) will be available
from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm. Though from 9:00 am to 12:00, and
6:00 and 9:00 pm their priority will be car-pools. Actually,
any taxi that is asked to take 3 or more passengers (to the
same area) can be asked to provide the 5 euro per person service.
To get the plan off the ground, there will be three centre-city
designated pick-up points (with stewards to explain how it
works): at the Fortezza da Basso, Santa Maria Novella Station
and in Piazza della Repubblica. These points will have information
showing the eight colour-coded areas that Florence has been
divided into: Legnaia-Soffiano-Isolotto (n. 1, dark blue),
San Jacopino-Piazza Puccini-via Baracca (n. 2, light green),
Novoli- Firenze Nova (n. 3, dark green), Rifredi-Careggi (n.
4, purple), Cure-Stadio (n. 5, pink), Piazza Alberti-Bellariva-Campo
di Marte (n. 6, yellow), Piazza Ferruci-Gavinana-Viale Europa
(n. 7, light blue), San Frediano-Santo Spirito-Porta Romana
(n. 8, red). Designated taxi stands (for rides toward the
centre) will also be located in the above areas (for ex. Piazzale
Michelangelo, Careggi hospital and the Campo di Marte train
station) for group rides back to the historical centre.
Consider it a good opportunity for some social interaction!
LA GENTILEZZA 2
One of our favourite return clients sent a story she thought
I would enjoy. I immediately asked if I could include it in
our newsletter, perhaps in a few installments. She replied
Good gracious me and consented.
La Gentilezza - By Elaine Fellows
Although Italy was politically united in 1861, the regional
differences are still striking. During my twenty winters spent
in that lovely land I encountered many of those cultural differences
and recounting them would make an interesting story. Instead
I have chosen to write about something that the Italians have
in common. From Sicily to Milan everyone is caring of, and
kind to, old ladies, and so in this story I will recall some
endearing examples of Italian gentilezza encountered by me
during the happy years from 1982 to 2002.
Ill in Orvieto
In 1995 I spent the winter in Rome and from there went up
to Orvieto for a week. The day I was to return to Rome I woke
up with a very sore throat. It didnt respond to the
farmacistas pastilles, I had to check out of my hotel
by noon, it had begun to rain heavily and I felt miserable.
So it seemed prudent to take a book and spend the afternoon
waiting in the warm train station for my four oclock
Also in the waiting room with a book was a handsome gentleman
of about forty. He was reading George Eliots Romola
so I assumed he was English and we struck up a conversation.
Turned out he was Italian and taught high school English.
He was on sabbatical and had rented an old farm- house north
of Orvieto where he was trying to write a novel. The place
was damp and cold so hed come down to Orvieto for a
few days to warm up; his train north would leave at 4:30.
So we had an afternoon to talk about art in Orvieto, about
books and writing, and about the wisdom of introducing Italian
teenagers to Romola. My throat was very sore, the pastilles
offered no relief, and my head ached dreadfully.
The end of that afternoon will always be a haze. I remembered
my new friend taking my little bag down to my train. Next
I remembered sitting in a train, and two men standing above
me, one of them digging around in my purse. In the next memory
I am sitting in the back of an automobile and a man is standing
outside it, talking to the driver, behind him is a large building,
glowing with lights. Next scene: I am conscious, briefly,
in my bed in my Rome hotel, and the little maid is covering
me with a blanket. She has tucked under it- on my chest- a
bundle of letters. (I was to learn Dans love letters
had accumulated while I was in Orvieto. (The maid had assumed,
romantically, that theyd comfort me, so she laid them
on my bosom. Oh those kind Italians !)
That night I dont remember seeing the doctor the hotel
had summoned, but I learned from him the next day that I had
had a 105 degree fever and hed given me an antibiotic.
Ive never before or since experienced such a mystifying
malady. I must have been ambulatory, but semi-conscious. When
I considered the scenario I realised my friend, whose name
I never knew, had found my rail ticket and the name of my
hotel in my purse, accompanied me to Rome and paid a taxi
driver to deliver me to my hotel before catching what was
surely the last north-bound train that night! Theres
no doubt that of all the many example of gentilezza I encountered
in Italy, his was the most gallant.
READERS REVIEW RESTAURANTS
We invite your comments for our Readers Review Restaurants
section. Use this forum to spread the word about restaurants
that merit recognition for their great food and good service.
The contents will reflect our readers points of view (though
we reserve the right to agree or disagree). Send your input
Dear P & F,
I recently had the privilege of a private visit to the underground
chocolate factory at Bar Rivoire. Even though Ive gone
there over two decades for an occasional cup of their wonderful
hot chocolate, little did I know that all the chocolate bon-bons
and chocolate creams one sees in the display windows, are
hand-made in-shop (and have been for nearly 100 years). I
saw their nutella cream created in what appeared to be a reduced-scale,
stone-wheel olive mill, by grinding whole, fresh hazelnuts
and chocolate into pure chocolate delight. I saw individual
chocolates being wrapped by hand, and most of all, I remained
impressed by the personal warmth of Laura, owner and director
of the chocolate production.
Keep up the good work with your newsletter.
THUMBS UP THUMBS DOWN Our Readers Right
Our Thumbs up, Thumbs down column is your chance
to write us and share your own ideas and information, or to
toot the horn of businesses, events and those Florentine situations
that strike you as either wonderful or terrible. Please note:
all opinions are strictly those of our readers. Lend us your
Suzanne reports that she wowed out-of-town guests with a visit
to the Cantine di Greve in Chianti where with
the purchase of a wine card one can automatically
dispense wines from a high-tech system of organised wine bottles.
Purchase cards for values from 10 to 20 euro. Insert the card,
push a button next to your chosen wines, and a shot of wine
will appear in your glass. Taste Chianti Classico, Brunello,
Super Tuscans and a more limited number of whites. You will
find wines from Antinori, Sirio Pacenti, Isole e Olena, Le
Pupille and more. Dont expect a personal touch. No one
is available to explain the wines. On the other hand, this
single tasting room allows one to taste from over 140 wines,
some you might never get close to unless you are a big Big
Spender. Open from 10 am to 7:00 pm. Piazza delle Cantine,
Greve in Chianti. Tel. 055 8546404.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Here is a delicious salsa verde recipe. This bright green
compote is served with boiled beef or capon (castrated chicken)
during the winter months, and is a staple on the holiday table
for many Italian families. Its also great on a turkey or roast
3 slices country style bread
¼ cup wine vinegar
1 cup chopped parsley
3 anchovy filets, mashed
¼ cup chopped capers
1 clove grated garlic
1 hard-boiled egg, grated
freshly ground pepper
1 cup or more extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
In a small mixing bowl soak bread in vinegar, then crumble.
Add all other ingredients. Stir together and let sit at least
few hours. Will keep in fridge for two weeks.