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Palazzo Pitti

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Rent, Sell and Manage Properties in Florence and Tuscany
NEWSLETTER November 2008

  November… with a mixed sigh (of anticipation, satisfaction and regret) Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside begin to settle into the calm that winter brings. With no particular warning, the city goes back to itself. This is one of our favorite months. We anticipate the wonderful bounty that is coming with peppery fresh olio nuovo (just- pressed olive oil) soon to hit our tables, the wine producers are satisfied with the harvest that went off without a hitch, and we all regret to see the warm days of summer slipping out of reach for another six months. Sure, there are art shows, new exhibits, movies and such, but as a chill permeates the air, and skin-revealing sunny beaches seem ever so far off, frankly…. we concentrate on the pleasures of the table.

   Anyone thinking that 90210 represents the only zip code where you can get excellent improvement work done, has got something to learn about Firenze 50125. This issue includes a number of beauty secrets revealed, including a world-class Florentine aesthetic medical clinic.

SUZANNE, CORSO, SANDRA, LORI, ANNA PIA and KIMBERLY send our best from Florence.


CORRI LA VITA thanks Ted and Anjela Guariello who won the “Premio Speciale alla Coppia Più Generosa” (Most Generous Couple prize).


In the name of research, Pitcher and Flaccomio will be dedicating a two-part series of notes to the beauty options available in Florence listing people and places we use, ones we have heard good things about, and hopefully, in the second set of notes, we will also list suggestions that our readers send in.
Aesthetic salon: For ages I have been hearing only the best about Dr. Georgios Foukis, owner of the Clinica Medica Estetica “SKIN” on Borgo San Jacopo. Friends and clients have been quietly raving about his work, his gentle personality and of the myriad of services offered at his clinic. I visited Dr. Foukis and found a wonderful resource in his straightforward style and holistic philosophy. Basically, he has created a lovely space (the view of the Arno from his office sweeps from the Ponte Vecchio to the Ponte Santa Trinità), and a top-class team of professionals so that a multitude of services can be offered through a single contact. The 250-square-metre location is permeated with an overall feeling of lightness and illumination and includes state-of-the-art operating theaters, meeting rooms, massage rooms, offices and a welcoming reception area.
At SKIN you can arrange consultations and appointments regarding dermatology, vascular surgery, breast and aesthetic surgery, homeopathy and pain therapy, cosmetic dentistry and nutrition. Treatments include microdermabrasion, photo-rejuvenation for wrinkles, age spot and broken vessel removal through phototherapy, non-surgical face, neck and body lifts through radiofrequency, fillers (lips, cheeks), botox, permanent hair removal and cellulite treatments. SKIN also offers more traditional salon treatments (manicures, pedicures, massages and facials). Prices are surprisingly reasonable (for example: mircrodermabrasion – 90 euro, photo-rejuvenation – 80 euro, botox – from 150 to 350 euro, chemical peel – 100 euro. An initial consultation is always free. I can guarantee there will definitely be more details about SKIN and Dr. Foukis in part two of this series! Skin Spa. Borgo San Jacopo 64/r . Tel. 055.2741503. www.skinaestheticlinic.com. Email: info@skinaestheticlinic.
Salons: These run the gamut from super traditional to super modern, and generally offer an array of solutions and treatments including massage, hair styling, manicures, pedicures, nail reconstruction, plus tanning etc. Mario di Via della Vigna Nuova: (ask for Stefano who speaks lovely English) on Via della Vigna Nuova 22/red, tel. 055 294813. Carlo Bay (ask for Patrick who speaks English, or Nicla who is a fantastic colorist), Via Marsuppini, 055-6811876. Simonetta Pini, Viale Gramsci 27red, tel. 055 247713. Simonetta, who had quite a local following, does most of the cutting, leaving the rest to her valid assistants. Contrasto – Via Mosca 10r, tel. 055 2398553. This shop (with a new, walk-in only location around the corner on Via dei Neri) specializes in Aveda products. Gabrio Staff Olimpo: - Via dé Tornabuoni 5. Tel. 055 214668.
Gyms: Outside of the chaotic center, and one of our favorites (run by Laura Gilbert, an American woman) is Bodyworks, Via Frà Jacopo Passavanti, 35. Tel. 055 587 399. Or try in the center: Palestra Ricciardi Borgo Pinti, 75 055-2478444. For a gym complete with indoor pool try: Tropos Via Orcagna, 20/a, 055661581. Klab Wellness Centre has three locations in and around Florence, the most central in Via dei Conti 7. Virgin Active Italia, (The biggest, newest and as one client said “better than in America”), Via Dalla Chiesa 11, tel: 055 6594737, 055 691663, 055 6594836. Most gyms will offer temporary memberships. You may need a doctor’s certificate of “good health” in order to use the facilities.
Massage: In Florence contact Laura Gilbert at Bodyworks Gym: 055 587399, Natacha Bompar at Think Wellness, tel. 3381176728, or Alessandra Graps who practices Dorn and Reiki techniques on preferably female clients. tel. 339 8472709. Domenico Neri: cell phone 333 5889513, email: domeneri@libero.it.
Spas: Fonbliù, Piazza Porta Romana 10/r, Tel: 055 2335385. info@fonbliu.com, www.fonbliu.com.
Nails: Bello delle Mani – specialised in nail reconstruction. Via Caponsacchi 10/r, Gavinana area. Nail 42 - Via Santo Spirito 4, tel. 348 7762879. This shop does only nails, mani and pedi in a number of styles

Finding a bathroom in Florence isn’t the drama it used to be. There are good and even great toilets available throughout the city. Bathrooms with a view, free bathrooms, bathrooms you pay for, marble bathrooms, spacious public ones, even “exotic” Turkish toilets. Let me point out a few so that the next time you are downtown and you “gotta go”, you won’t have to walk more than a short block from anywhere to find relief.
And let’s start there…. Relief. What is relief worth? For me it is worth the 60 cents it costs to use one of the 12 well-kept, anything-but-stinky, and often rather lovely public bathrooms dotted around the city center. In recent years, the city has gone to some lengths to provide visitors and locals with efficient, well-kept bathrooms. Don’t hesitate to check one out if you run across it. You might even find tourist information and a drink machine offering bottles of water and sodas in the bathroom lobby. They are generally open from 10:00 am, to 8:00 pm, and staffed with a courteous attendant.
Watch for the Public Toilette signs in the following places: the underground walkway of the Santa Maria Novella train station, in Via della Stufa no. 25 (corner of Via Taddea, behind the San Lorenzo market), on tiny via Filippina (corner of Via Borgognona, between Santa Croce and Palazzo Vecchio), also near Santa Croce church on Borgo Santa Croce no. 29red (next to the handy, information-filled tourist office), inside the Sant’Ambrogio market (downstairs, from next to world-famous trattoria Rocco), Via dell’Ariento no. 14 (near the San Lorenzo Market), on Via dello Sprone in the Oltrarno (near Piazza della Passera), in Piazza Madonna della Neve (a hidden “new” piazza between Via Ghiberti and Via dell’Agnolo), in Piazza dei Ciompi (inside the garden), in Piazza del Grano (inside the new Uffizi Centre) plus up near Piazzale Michelangelo on Viale Galilei and in the Cascine Park at Piazzale Kennedy. For two bucks you can even take a shower at the one in Via Sant’Agostino.
Even with all these locations, there aren’t very many in the “centro-centro”, so here are a few other personal selections. And remember, it is customary, though not necessarily “required” to make at least a small purchase (a cappuccino for example) at a bar/café before asking to use their “toilette”.
Free and easy (though it usually costs me at least a blouse): 1) Zara clothing store (Via Calimala, the Zara on the right as you walk toward the Ponte Vecchio), top floor, straight ahead off the escalator, unmarked door . Ask if you are unsure. The plus: never a line… no one knows it is there. 2) Department store Rinascente on Piazza della Repubblica: fourth floor, immediately right, out of the elevator. The plus: a nice view of Orsanmichele church. 3) Vip’s Bar located on the lower level terrace of Piazzale Michelangelo. The plus: in the top 2 of best view bathrooms, you will see what I mean when you step back out.
Costing a courtesy purchase: O Café on Via dei Bardi (handily open from 7:00 am straight through to 2:00 am every day). The plus: also in the top 2 of Best View Bathrooms.
A couple of hotels that seem pretty kind to a stranger in need (plus the bathrooms are sooooo nice): The Savoy on Piazza della Reppublica, the Lungarno on Borgo San Jacopo, the Grand on Piazza Ognissanti (all through the lobby entry and then down stairs to a lower level.) The Westin Excelsior on Piazza Ognissanti wins for most extravagant use of multi-colored marble (through lobby, on left).

Luckily for us, the president of SACI, (Studio Art Centers International) a school of art located in Florence, has given her permission for us to print insightful bits of advice left by departing students for newbies in arrival. I think the kids have great advice for anyone planning a trip to Florence. We thank SACI. Via Sant'Antonino 11, Tel. 055.289948. http://www.saci-florence.org

Advice from Departing Fall Term Students:
“Don’t think you will be buying a whole new wardrobe here. Clothes are very expensive. Also, don’t worry about “fitting in” and “looking European.” As hard as you try, they still know you’re American and there are so many here that you fit in anyway.” n.n.
"Check out the Gelateria in Via dei Neri for the best gelato (ice cream) in Florence. The Oil Shoppe has some amazing panini (sandwiches) and it’s right near the Duomo.” C.W
“Go and draw the statues (especially in Piazza della Signoria) at the beginning of the semester, when you have more time and before it gets cold.” L.R.
Advice from Departing Spring Term Students:
"Bring DVDs from home because you can only change format on your computer 2 or 3 times." N.F.
"Go see the sights in Florence as soon as you can, otherwise time will run out and you won't go." n.n.
"Don’t eat out a lot in the beginning, your wallet will regret it." n.n.
"The Specola Natural History museum is awesome." n.n.
“Buy your produce and olive oil from the Mercato Centrale." T.C.
"It’s not necessary to bring a suit. I brought one and never wore it." M.P.
"Get a Friends of the Uffizi pass as soon as possible." R.S.
Advice from Departing Late Spring Term Students
"Bring peanut butter, shampoo, and conditioner. It’s really expensive here. Pugi bakery and Gelateria Carabé are amazing. Palazzo Pitti has great art and very few tourists. Buy a map and get yourself lost, you’ll see so many exciting things that you weren’t expecting." T.G.
"Ladies do not wear short skirts or low cut tops, you will get negative attention from the men. Watch how the Italian women deal with the men – it helps." M.C.
"Take a map with you if you explore. The one day I decided I wouldn’t need it in my bag, it took me an hour or two to make my way back home. A.B.
Advice from Departing Summer Term Students
"Volterra is my favorite city. I would move there in a heartbeat. Find out the history of the building where you live. Mine turned out to be a building from the early 17th century, which at one time housed a chocolate factory." E.W.
"Pack as little as possible. You are not going to want to haul two suitcases on and off trains!" M.K.
“Eat sandwiches (panini) with lampredotto in Via de’ Macci (3 euros for the best sandwich in town). See as many museums as possible, including the fascinating Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure.” n.n.
“Just remember that you are in their country. You must adapt to the place and people, not the other way around. On quite a few occasions, I was embarrassed by the way foreigners were acting. Things are done differently here.” B.J
“Don’t over-order, most restaurants don’t provide boxes for left-overs.” P.W.
“Don’t stop taking pictures.” O.A.
“I loved Palle d’Oro trattoria in Via Sant’Antonino.” C.R.

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 reader’s points of view (though we reserve the right to agree or disagree). Send your input to newsletter@pitcherflaccomio.com.

Dear P & F,
We all know there are lots of perfectly good pastry shop/coffee bars in Florence, but few really compete for “Best of Show”. Pasticceria Stefania on Via Marconi (Campo di Marte area) is one of those few. Two sides of the large shop are lined with display cases filled with the freshest array of pasticini, beignet, cookies, sandwiches and the most amazing cakes to be found. The fresh fruit tarts are works of art, as are the berry millefoglie. Amazing! The breakfast brioche (plain or jam filled) are positively, lusciously, rich and buttery. Don’t go if you need to avoid temptation, because here you will lose that battle in a nano-second. Via Marconi 26/red. And thanks for keeping me informed on the hidden corners of Florence. Your work is much appreciated.
Erin Solani

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!

Dear P & F,
I hope you can help me. A few weekends ago, I finally discovered a partial solution to one of my new resident’s dilemmas: a consignment-type store where I can find the last few extra items to make my apartment feel more like home, without spending a fortune or having to resort to the nice but been-there-done-that look of IKEA. From their array of desks, armchairs, tables big and small, I picked up a couple of extra chairs for my dining room, but am still looking for a few other items to complete my living room. So first, I would like to give a big Thumb’s Up to the used furniture shop DITUTTO DIPIU’. They seem to work on a consignment plan, where I will also be able to re-sell my own things when (unfortunately) I need to leave next year. They are located at the “edge” of Florence, toward San Donnino just off the Via Pistoiese (via dei Manderi 62, Tel.055/8961801, open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.30 to 13.00 and from 15.30 to 19.30.) What I am hoping, is that you can tell me about other similar places, maybe a little closer to the center, that I can visit to finish furnishing my apartment? Thanks a million.
Alex Boltin

Dear Alex,
We will be happy to look into it and get back to you next month. Thanks for your Thumb’s Up message.


Luscious, sexy persimmons…Tuscany is loaded with them. As is tradition here, many rural homes have a persimmon tree to supply the family with its juicy fruit. The trees lose their leaves with Autumn’s wind and rain, leaving the orange, apple-sized fruits hanging on otherwise naked trees. As October and November pass, the fruit begins to ripen, and if left un-harvested, will drop the orange bombs on the ground as the fruit gets so soft it falls off its stem. The most common species of persimmon in Tuscany is the Diospyros kaki. In fact, Tuscan locals refer to them as kaki (cachi), not the Italian word diospero. Persimmons are loaded with tannins, making them incredibly astringent if eaten before they are fully ripe, so soft that they are bursting out of their skin.
I love to eat the fruit as is, slurping it out of its skin. However, the flavor really pops with a little lime or lemon juice squeezed on top. A Fall fruit salad is beautiful when ‘dressed’ with the pureed fruit. Tuscans don’t bake with kaki, as far as I know, but recipes abound in American cookbooks for sweet breads and cakes. The flavor is subtle, but persimmon’s juiciness assures a moist dessert.

Macedonia Autunnale - Fall Fruit Salad

Pine nuts

Cut the pears and apples into small pieces. Peel and break the mandarins into sections. Open the pomegranate and separate the seeds from the yellow membrane. Halve the persimmons and scoop the fruit out of its skin, cradling the halved fruit in your hand as you do so. It’s a little messy, but finger licking is permitted, even encouraged! Smash the persimmon in a bowl with a fork or whirl it little in a food processor. Add some toasted pine nuts, the raisins and halved dates. That’s it, enjoy!

Recipe provided by Sahna Wicks of A Tuscan Welcome Catering (wicks@katamail.com).

All our best,

The Staff of Pitcher and Flaccomio

Newsletter compiled by Kim Wicks

Pitcher & Flaccomio Newsletter Copyright 2008

Direttore responsabile Mario Spezi -  Pubblicazione con iscrizione n. 5697 del 23\01\09 presso il Tribunale di Firenze