Florence is for Lovers

Florence is for Lovers

Florence, Italy
Valentines Day, 2014
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  We’re looking ahead to Spring – May in Venice, Barcelona, or Prague, and our newest  – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

Our choice for Valentine’s Day? One of our favorite, if not THE favorite, cities in the world, Florence. A relaxing train ride from Padova, and we walk to the Hotel Tornabuoni Beaci, where we drop our bags and quickly head out to enjoy the city on this glorious spring-like day. We cross the river to the Oltrarno to wander familiar lanes, and since it’s so lovely, decide we don’t want to waste a minute inside, but will find a market lunch to enjoy with this great view – elegant Santo Spirito. 

 A porchetta vendor slices a few hearty pieces of herbed and roasted pork and layers it on a fresh-baked bun – a perfect Valentines lunch-with-a-view!

And what Valentine’s Day could pass without chocolate? On the long piazza fronting Santa Maria Novella, chocolate vendors have come from all over Italy, filling long white tents with their wares for a Festival di Cioccolato, and offer decadent samplings of white, dark and milk chocolate in every imagineable form. We nibble as we stroll the sun- splashed streets from one piazza to another (Santa Croce, below).

While yet another snow-storm approaches our Virginia home, we revel in the balmy day, and enjoy every minute outside, relaxing on the Tornabuoni Beaci’s inviting rooftop terrace.

The views from our windows are wonderful as well, but, knowing we’ll soon be trapped inside by the fire,watching that snow fall after our return home Sunday, we bring our books and laptops outside and grab as much of the unexpected warmth as we can.

Up at the top of the terrace, we await the sunset,

and sipping a Spritz, stay outside til the last streaks fade from the sky.

Our lover’s holiday in Florence finishes with a candlelight dinner,

beginning with a flute of sparkling Prosecco under the twinkly lights of La Giostra. What a treat to celebrate this February holiday with welcome warmth and sunshine!

Off to Jazzy Orvieto

Off to Jazzy Orvieto

December 29, 2012
Florence & Orvieto, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Next on the itinerary: Our spring tours in Barcelona, Venice or Prague

Leonardo’s Last Supper in Milan may be the most famous, but scattered around Florence are several stunning renditions of that final meal, and one  of our favorites is this jewel by Ghirlandaio, in the refectory of Ognissanti church. The garden setting is so inviting, and the colors so beautiful.
Why are there so many depictions of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples? Because they were the traditional decoration for the refectory, where the monks ate, and there are dozens of ancient monasteries around the city.
As the monks quietly ate a simple meal, one of the brothers would read scripture from the pulpit built into the side wall.
And now we’re off to Orvieto, where the jazz begins! We arrive around two, drop off our luggage and look for a place for a quick lunch before our first concert.

How about some porchetta, stuffed and roasted pork that’s a traditional central Italian savory delight? Handwritten signs ” Oggi Porchetta”   (porchetta today) are tacked onto the stone walls of several shops, but the advertisement here is more eye- catching, wouldn’t you say?
Inside, a butcher has set up a table and slices the moist meat – the pig has been deboned, arranged carefully with layers of garlic, herb (LOTS of rosemary) stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and roasted, traditionally over wood. Oh is it delicious layered in a crusty roll for lunch!

And now to begin the JAZZ – with grammy- nominated New Yorker Gregory Parker and his band in the ancient frescoed hall of Palazzo del Popolo. A great start to our jazzy New Year celebration.

The sky’s tinged with a rosy sunset as we exit,

and below, even the parking lot is decorated!

A special dinner awaits us at elegant Sette Consoli, beginning with a warming potato and cod first course, followed by tagliolini with trout, artichokes, and roasted tomatoes.

Then a flavorful bean soup, a main of roasted partridge and prunes, a cheese course of pecorino and honey, and a finale of trifle. All in tasting portions so we can enjoy each one – superb!

Are we happy? Oh yeah!

A stroll past Orvieto’s glorious mosaic fronted cathedral, shimmering in the moonlight, and we say goodnight.