THE FIORINO EFFECT
Okay, the dollar is in the toilet. But in an effort
to keep Americans coming to the area, a promotional campaign
sponsored by the Province of Florence and the Florence Tourist
Board The Fiorino Effect, provides American tourists
visiting from May 15 to December 31 with 10% discounts at
participating hotels and restaurants, plus other special rates
at theatres, museums and exhibitions. The promotion obviously
aims at softening the impact that the current dollar-euro
exchange rate has on American purchase power when visiting
Italy and Florence.
For over two centuries the most used coin in Europe was the
Florentine fiorino. The campaign is calling the
effort, a new and fun way to remember that Florence
was the capital of the world, not just in art and culture,
but also in economy and finance.
How does the initiative work? The participating hotels and
restaurants apply a 10% discount on the entire cost of your
stay in the hotel and on your meals. When you reserve your
hotel room/s, do not forget to communicate to the hotel staff
that you are American and that you wish to use the promotion
The Fiorino Effect. Download the voucher (www.firenzeturismo.it),
with the image of the Florin on it, and bring it with you
during your stay in Florence. The hotel will validate the
voucher enabling you to access to a 10% discount on the cost
of your meal in restaurants.
...That's not all... by presenting the Fiorino Effect voucher
validated by the hotel at the ticket office of Palazzo Strozzi,
you will be entitled to a 20% discount on the exhibits scheduled
for the 2008 season in the Palazzo Strozzi: until June 8 you
can visit the exhibition China - At the court of the
emperors with over 200 masterpieces of the imperial
courts from the Han era (23-220) to the Tang Empire (618-907),
the Chinese Golden Age. You will have free entrance to the
Palazzo Medici, the first Renaissance building to be erected
in Florence. The most important section of the palace is still
the small Chapel frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli with the Adoration
of the Magi. You will also be entitled to a 15% discount on
the performances held in the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
and for lyric performances scheduled for October 2008.
MILLE MIGLIA: VINTAGE CAR RALLY. Sat. 17. Pienza, Montalcino,
Castellina, Panzano, Greve, Impruneta, Florence, Vaglia, Barberino.
Eighty years after its inception, the Mille Miglia
is today a world-renowned event, epitomising the passion people
hold for cars in the pursuit of adventure, excitement and
discovery. It is also the easiest and most fun vintage car
show ever attended. You can just sit in one spot and enjoy
the noisy, colourful show going by. This year more than 350
automobiles are registered including a 1928 ALFA ROMEO 6C
1500 Super Sport, a 1938 BMW 328, a 1933 ASTON MARTIN Le Mans,
a 1948 MASERATI A6GCS and more (Jaguars, Ferraris, Lancias,
On Saturday, watch for the classic Freccia Rossa sign (a red
arrow with 1000 Miglia written on it) marking the route, and
get a good observation spot. The rally should hit Pienza at
10:30, Montalcino at 11:00, the first cars are expected in
Piazza del Duomo of Siena at 11:20, 12:00 in Castellina-in-Chianti,
Greve 12:20, and 1:00 in Firenze, with the principle checkpoint
found in Piazzale Galileo, then on to Vaglia at 1:30 and Barberino
di Mugello at 2:00.
The first cars are expected to be entering Florence will travel
along Via San Felice a Ema, Viale del Poggio Imperiale, Viale
Torricelli, Piazzale Galileo, Viale Macchiavelli, Piazza della
Calza, Via Romana, Piazza San Felice, Via Maggio, Piazza Frescobaldi,
Ponte a Santa Trinità, Lungarno degli Acciaioli, Via
Por Santa Maria, Via Vacchereccia, Piazza della Signoria,
Via dei Calzaioli, Piazza San Giovanni, Via de Martelli,
Via Cavour, Piazza San Marco, Via La Pira, Via Giacomo Matteotti,
Piazza Libertà, Via Don Minzoni, Via G. Pascoli, Largo
Zoli, Via Mafalda di Savoia, Ponte Rosso, and out along the
SS 65 Via Bolognese.
It was Enzo Ferrari who defined it "the world's greatest
road race". From the starting line in Brescia, to the
much-awaited appointment with Rome, and finishing with arrival
back in Brescia, the Mille Miglia rally meets the enthusiasm
of the cities it passes through and the fervour of the crowds
lining the streets.
The origins of the Mille Miglia race are closely linked to
those of the Brescia Automobile Club. In 1927, with influential
political connections and the considerable financial backing
of its motor sport enthusiasts, the Club put together a long
distance race for production cars that would differ from the
French Bol d'or [dating from 1922], the 'Coupe Rudge Whitworth'
[later known as the Le Mans 24 Hours] and other similar events.
The race would cover a large part of Italy, virtually taking
the cars to the front doors of potential buyers. This was
the equivalent of an advertising brainwave, and attracted
strong interest from the car manufacturers, who were struggling
to sell their products at the time. It gave them an ideal
opportunity to overcome the poor reputation their products
had for reliability. It was also popular with the Government.
It would present the modern face of Italy to the world as
well as stimulating the popularity of motor vehicle use and
thereby growing the industry, providing jobs and increasing
revenue from taxes. The Italian people would also derive a
marginal benefit from improvements to the roads used in the
race. They soon put together the details of the Mille Miglia
Cup race. It would be run from Brescia to Rome [to flatter
the Fascist regime] and back to Brescia, a distance of around
To complete the organising team, later known as the 'Musketeers',
they needed a top-class journalist. As the story goes, they
turned to Giovanni Canestrini of the influential 'Gazzetta
della Sport', a pioneering sports newspaper backed by motor
industry leaders Giovanni Agnelli and Edoardo Bianchi. It
was at this time that the legend surrounding the origin of
the name Mille Miglia was born.
Canestrini reported: I was not expecting visitors on
that Christmas Eve in 1926; I was daydreaming, slumped in
an armchair, when I heard someone calling me from the courtyard.
It was Aymo Maggi with Franco Mazzotti, Renzo Castagneto and
Baron Monti. What do they want, I thought, on
Christmas Eve? My study was invaded by my friends and
Maggi, their spokesman, explained the reasons for this unexpected
visit. "Our factories dont race any more,
he said. There are no racing cars and if we want to
do some racing, all we can do now is purchase foreign cars,
or Bugattis, which is virtually the only one being manufactured
and sold to customers. If we dont do something new,
we feel that nobody will be interested in motor racing any
more and our whole tradition will be forgotten. We have to
do something, he repeated. The idea of organising a
Brescia-Rome race was mooted. It was fashionable to have everything
end up in the capital (then as now); but this idea was not
well received since, in the end, the benefit to Brescia would
be relatively small. Why dont we have a Brescia-Rome-Brescia
] And what shall we call it?
Brescia-Rome-Brescia was too long and reminded
one of a train timetable, rather than a car race. At a certain
point Mazzotti asked me and Castagneto, as we were calculating
the distances on the map: How long is it? Over
a thousand kilometres - around 1,600 kilometres. Or
a thousand miles, remarked Mazzotti, who had just returned
from a trip to America and had become accustomed to thinking
of distances and averages in miles rather than in kilometres.
Then, acting on an inspiration, he added: Why dont
we call it the Mille Miglia Cup? Dont you
think the name seems too American? someone objected.
Not at all! he replied, after all, the Romans
measured their distances in miles, and were following
Roman tradition. In those times, this meant something.
Thanks to the Mille Miglia official website for much of the
FLORENCE BOOKED AGAIN
Apparently, over the past year author Salman Rushdie
made a series of secret visits to Florence while preparing
his latest novel set in the time of the Medici court. The
Enchantress of Florence, which hit shelves in England and
the US on April 3, has received mixed reviews, to say the
least. About the book, S. Clarke states Renaissance
Florence and Mogul India are brought noisily, nastily and
splendidly back to life. Rushdie has irreverent fun with figures
such as Botticelli, his muse for the Primavera, and Machiavelli,
who feature in the back story. The two cultures create an
opportunity for multiple switches of perspective. Overexcited,
perhaps, by the Kama Sutra, which he cites as a source, Rushdie
goes to town with scenes of harem life and brothels. This
novel is as much a celebration of sex, of every kind and degree
of expertise, as it is of the potency of tale-telling."
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 (usually) strictly those of our readers.
Lend us your thoughts!
Yesterday I went to Panzano to buy some meat for
a party I'm having on the 25th and left my regards for you
with Dario. I really enjoyed my little jaunt to Panzano and
gorged myself on the tit bits he was offering with an excellent
glass of wine.
I'm sending you a short review on a restaurant I went to last
night which, to my opinion, deserves to be on your newsletter
for May. The atmosphere is absolutely divine and the view
you have of the river, breathtaking. Of course, the food is
1st class; TARGA Bistrot Fiorentino on Lungarno Colombo.
Gabriele Tarchiani, Patron of Restaurant Targa
Bistrot, two years ago has made the choice to terminate a
15 years period of Caffé Concerto and start a new adventure
of Targa Bistrot in the same premises. Very few variations
in the cuisine and, maybe, a more dynamic service. The ambience
has not changed: great atmosphera, elegant and intimate, with
prestigious wooden tables, a little brighter than before,
due to the spectacular light given by the sun reflecting on
the Arno. Actually you have the feeling of being on a barge
anchored on the river.
The menu with 5 to 6 choices per course, presents
some of the dishes which made the history of this restaurant,
such as tartara and baccala are still on the list. Some other
meat or fish dishes are cooked in a very creative way, never
banal. As an appetiser you are served with a schiacciata (flat
loaf) with red radicchio which allows you to sample the excellent
Cabernet Istrice of Elena Walch. Famous is the Riso rosso
with Broccoletti e Gamberi and the Tartare di Chianina con
Battuta di Carciofi. Or Dadolata di Manzo con Carciofi very
tasty and genuine. In the menu you also find a wide choice
of Italian and French cheeses plus the Stilton offered in
several different seasonings. The wine list is ample and refined.
You finish with their hot chocolate soufflé which has
always been the piece de resistance amongst the house desserts.
TARGA Bistrot Fiorentino. Lungarno Colombo, 7 Firenze.
Tel: 055.677377. Closed: Sunday.
We at Pitcher & Flaccomio are giving our own heartfelt
Thumbs Up to two special people this month, one
is the very friendly Marco Vignoli of I Bike Italy, and the
other is Sahna Wicks (also know as Kims sister), who
for many years, has offered various ways to access Tuscan
food. As one of her most frequent clients, Suzanne recommended
it was high time we mention Sahnas work in our newsletter.
I BIKE TUSCANY is a Florence-based company specialising in
1-day private bike rides and longer bike tours for small groups
(singles, families, friends from 1 to 6 people) around Florence,
Siena and Chianti. The service is different, very special,
flexible and personalised. Their tours are all private, with
pick up/drop off at hotels, railway stations and airports
provided. Wine tastings and winery tours, and local events
play a special part in their schedules. Marco provides the
opportunity to experience some really different and off-the-beaten
track itineraries that only a local knows, cycling at your
own pace on quiet country roads, past vineyards, olive groves
and through quaint villages. Yes there are hills (this is
Tuscany after all) but rest stops are frequent and you'll
have all the time in the world to enjoy the view from a hilltop
and take pictures. If you visit Florence and you want to get
away from the traffic, the crowds and the routine of the museums
for just one day, or if you prefer to experience the adventure
of a 6-day active vacation
get in touch with Marco.
New tours to the Cinque Terre, Lago Maggiore, Monte Rosa,
Sicily and Dolomites have recently been added. Contact Information:
I Bike Tuscany. Marco Vignoli. Phone: +39 335 8120769. www.ibiketuscany.com
A TUSCAN WELCOME
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Sahna Wicks has
been a resident in Tuscany for over 20 years. Shes a
cook, caterer and cooking teacher with years of experience
working side-by-side with Florentine food experts in various
settings. She decided to concentrate on sharing Tuscanys
no-nonsense cooking and baking techniques through meals and
classes designed for hands-on participation. The pivotal
factor about what makes for great Tuscan food is the simple
preparation of quality ingredients, says Sahna.
Sahna offers Welcome Meals and pre-arrival grocery shopping
for those who like an easy landing to their vacation residence.
Or join Sahna for private hands-on cooking lessons held in
your home or hers, just beyond Fiesole. And (much to Suzannes
pleasure) Sahna caters small and medium-size events to both
Florentine and International clients.
Sahnas private cooking classes can accommodate one or
more people. They may be held at her home in the country 20
minutes north of Florence, or in your apartment or villa.
Originally from California and having grown up with a French-cooking
teaching mother, Sahna has an easy knack for taking the mystery
out of food preparation. Both traditional and innovative recipes
are offered to give students a general understanding for Tuscan
cuisine but also offering a modern twist for those who like
to play in the kitchen. Sahna enjoys teaching people of all
ages and with any level of cooking ability. Having two boys
of her own, Sahna knows how much fun kids have cooking, and
encourages family classes where kids learn safe knife and
stove skills and to clean-up as they create! Lessons are custom-designed.
Sahna says We will make what best works for you and
your family. If there are dietary restrictions, just let me
know, and Ill work with your needs. Take home
a book of Sahnas recipes after your day of cooking.
PERSONAL CHEF / MEAL DELIVERY - Aside from preparing and stocking
a vacation rental home with a Welcome Meal on arrival, Sahna
also offers on-going, in-home cook services with menus to
accommodate anyones needs, managing all the shopping,
preparation and clean-up, and leaving you time to enjoy your
Florentine stay. If you prefer, Sahna will cook one or more
meals in her home and make a quick delivery at a time convenient
CATERING Sahnas expertise is in creating menus
for small to medium-sized events. Simple buffet-style or multi-course
meals are available, to cater to the personalised atmosphere
you desire. Italian meals usually consist of an antipasto,
a primo course of soup, risotto or pasta, followed
by the main course with a couple of vegetable dishes. Dessert
is optional (though why opt out?).
Sahnas repertoire features appetisers like Crostini
di Fegatini or the deceptively simple Pecorino con Miele e
Timo, primi include traditional favorites Pappa al Pomodoro
(Tuscan bread stew with basil, garlic and tomatoes) and Ribollita
(Tuscan vegetable and bread stew). She makes a great Roast
Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon, and Etruscan-style Rabbit
or Chicken, stewed with olives and red wine which can be served
with sides of sauteed Spinach or other seasonal greens or
Piselli alla Fiorentina (peas with garlic, parsley, and pancetta).
Finish off with Panna Cotta served with fresh Berries or Chocolate
Sauce, Classic Tiramisu or Sahnas unusual Seasonal Fruit
Tiramisù with fresh strawberries, nectarines or blueberries.
Sahna has given us another of her recipes this month, one
of our very favorites: Naked Ravioli (Gnudi)
SAHNA WICKS A Tuscan Welcome, Via Mulinaccio 5, 50030
Polcanto (Firenze). Tel. 055 840 9751. email@example.com
TEATRO DEL SALE
Not that Fabio Picchi needs any further publicity, but credit
must be given where due and so a big Thumbs Up
to Fabio, as he was exceptionally nice in welcoming Jeffrey
Tate to his theatre recently, really putting himself out in
an extra special way.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
500g cooked well-squeezed spinach, finely chopped.
500g fresh ricotta made from sheeps milk if possible
1 cup grated parmigiano
Freshly grated nutmeg or lemon zest
Mix together all ingredients except the flour. Bring a large
pot of generously salted water to a gentle boil. Make small
walnut-sized balls of the spinach/ricotta mixture and roll
them in flour on a baking sheet or parchment to coat. Do a
test cook of one or two gnudi to see if the mixture is working
before you make more than a couple balls. Drop the test gnudi
into the simmering water and wait until they rise to the surface
at which point let them simmer 30 seconds to a minute. Remove
them with a slotted spoon or sieve. If they fall apart in
the cooking the spinach and ricotta were too wet, so youll
need to add some flour to the mixture. Try a few tablespoons.
Re-test. Cook the gnudi 8-10 at a time until all the mixture
is cooked. Serve with butter and sage sauce (melt a few generous
pats of butter in a pan, add 4 or 5 fresh sage leaves and
fry gently until the leaves are crisp) or a fresh tomato sauce.
Serve with grated parmigiano. Enjoy!