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Artisan Workshops of Tuscany {Florence + Pistoia + Foiana della Chiana + Cortona}

On my recent trip to Tuscany for the Play Your Tuscany project we visited dozens of artisans workshops. Some are easily accessible and welcome visitors (and shoppers) and some are are hidden away behind locked doors.

I was fascinated by the hands that create intricate jewelry, sturdy tables, finely crafted leather shoes and musical instruments. I was also taken by the tools used to create these objects. 


Hamburgers and Martinis in Rome {Rosso}

This week there will be a lot of Thanksgiving feasting.  Next week there will be a lot of leftovers and then there will be at least a few days of meals consisting mostly of roasted vegetables.  After that, I am sure I will be craving a rare juicy burger and an ice cold gin martini.


Best Hamburger in Florence {Lungarno 23)

Best Hamburger in Florence

Best Hamburger in Florence

As regular visitors to my blog no doubt know, I eat a lot of hamburgers in Rome. I am always on the lookout for a new delicious one to try.

I was recently invited to Tuscany as a participant in the Play Your Tuscany initiative (you can read all about the fun we had via the above link and very soon here) We saw beautiful and interesting things, stayed in hip and comfortable places and ate (a lot) of really good food. Now most of what we ate was pretty traditional Tuscan fare, pici pasta and rich hearty ragus made from beef or duck, lots of potato flan and roast pork stuffed with herbs. On the last night in Florence our hosts treated us to a burger and fries at the buzzy Lungarno 23 on the Oltrarno side of the river. 


Breakfast in Venice

Breakfast in Venice

Breakfast in Venice

Venice can be exasperating. It's crowded, it's confusing, you get lost, did I say crowded? Would you like to see the quiet side of Venice? I have a secret to share with you.


Best Wine Bars in Venice

Best Wine Bars in Venice

Best Wine Bars in Venice

On a recent trip to Venice there was a slight chill in the air, so I skipped extravagant cocktails outside in Piazza San Marco and with the help of some very knowledgeable friends, I explored the Venetian custom of ombre e cichetti in some of the best wine bars in Venice.  The story, that dates back to Casanova's time, goes that wine merchants once sold their wine in the Piazza San Marco and kept the barrels in the shade - ombre of the bell tower. 

Let's go on a Venetian Giro d'ombra to the best bàcari, informal bars/cafes, for a few glasses of wine and plates of small snacks.


Roman Holiday in the Off Season {Contests and Giveaways}

Four of my favorite groups of people in Rome have teamed up and have two separate and really fabulous giveaways. 


Thanksgiving in Rome - UPDATED 2017

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in Rome

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in Rome

Life as an expat can be like a traveling circus trying to maintain and create traditions in countries that are not your own. I have lived overseas for almost 20 years now and Thanksgiving is my family's most beloved celebration. I could take or leave Christmas, Easter is nice, but usually comes with volatile weather, Halloween is way less fun with a teenager than it was with a toddler. In Niamey Niger, on the edge of the Sahara desert, I cooked turkeys that were imported from Paris for bewildered French friends. In Harare Zimbabwe I taught Belgians how to make a killer pumpkin pie. Now here in Rome, my butcher knows the measurements of my oven and we host the feast on the Saturday after the traditional Thursday so that my international gypsy mix of American, Italian, South African, Bruneian and UK friends can all attend.

Thanksgiving in Rome requires some advance planning. First of all is Thanksgiving Day. It is almost always a work/school day, making the traditional bacchanalian mid-day feast hard to pull off. Our solution to this is to hold the celebration on Saturday instead. There are several restaurants that are serving traditional buffets for dinner on Thursday, November 24 23.


Mysterious Rome

Halloween in Rome

This past summer during a long and lazy beachside lunch in Positano with friends we had a conversation about what is/was on our list of a perfect partner. 

Humor, intelligence, kindness, blah blah blah. Then the important stuff started to come up at the table full of teenagers. There was talk of specific kinds of shoes and the necessity of liking heavy metal music. My favorite requirement was an appreciation for Rome's slightly ghoulish treasures.