This recipe is from my fellow traveler lovers and authors of Little Roads Europe travel guides, Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker. They live in Nashville, TN. Although that is my hometown, I’ve never met them, but look forward to some time in the future.

This recipe is for a digestive, which is very popular in Italy after a meal. It is called Amaro which translates to bitter. It is said to help with digestion, and I say, it can’t hurt, might help, and they are usually delicious.

I have to admit, I haven’t tasted mine yet, but I’ve rarely met a liquore that I didn’t love and I have faith in Zeneba and Matt! It’s easy enough, so try it. We can compare notes later. My batch should be ready mid-January. Just in time for the coldest winter months!
Lots of fresh herbs (I used basil, rosemary, sage, and mint) It is difficult to say the quantity here, but roughly I used 1 large bunch of each.
Whole cloves and cinnamon sticks I used about 20 cloves and 4 cinnamon sticks, I threw in some cardamom pods as well.

One liter of grain alcohol. This is easy to find in Italy, but I don’t know about other places. It must be pure grain with a high alcohol content, not vodka or gin.

Put the herbs and spices in a jar and pour the alcohol over the top. Make sure they are submerged. I had to place something inside the jar over the herbs to hold them down. I filled a jar with water and inserted it on top.

Let that sit in a cool, dark place for 30 days.
Make a simple syrup of sugar and water. Use 1 liter of water and a little less sugar, about ¾ of a liter. Heat the sugar in the water until it is dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool and then add to the herbal mixture.

Let this sit another two weeks. Then bottle! It will make about 2 liters of liquid.

You can read Zeneba and Matt’s version of this recipe, which is the original, and a lot more detailed at

I don’t think there is anything more beautiful, romantic, or that will put you more in the Christmas spirit than Florence in December. The streets are lit with beautiful lanterns and lights. The store windows are festive with all that your heart desires. There are musicians and concerts, festivals, and markets to enjoy. Chestnuts roast on every corner and the hot chocolate with whipped cream appears on the menus.


On December 8th, there is the religious holiday, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary the Virgin. The Christmas tree in front of the Duomo is lit and the holiday season is official.


Christmas time in Florence is a fabulous time to visit. There are some tourists, but mostly Italians from the surrounding villages come in to shop and enjoy the festivities. The museums are less crowded and the city is decked out in lights and finery.



The subject matter for the Renaissance paintings in Florence is relatively limited. It is of course almost entirely religious, with a few scenes being predominant. My favorite of those that you see relatively frequently in Florence are the Annunciations and The Last Suppers. There are many of both of these in Florence, and it is always fun to find an unexpected one.


To get to San Salvi, which is just outside the city walls, and most tourists would never venture here, you must take bus number 6. You can get on it in a variety of locations including the station, Piazza San Marco, and many others. Get off at the stop of Lungo l’Africa. If you are facing the street turn to your left, go to the first street on the left, and turn there. You will see the church of San Salvi at the end of the street. Before you get to the church, cross the street and take the road that is perpendicular to the right. About one block down, you will find the gate and Museum of San Salvi. The sign will indicate Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto, but there is so much more.


As you enter the doors, someone will come out and ask you to sign the guest book. Entry is free and don’t be surprised if you are the only one here. It is one of the beauties of this museum. It is opened Tuesday through Sunday from 8:15-13:50.


In any other city in the world, this would be considered a major museum. There are about five rooms full of paintings, and of course, the Andrea del Sarto Last Supper. The paintings in the other rooms include Suor Plautilla Nelli, the first woman artist in Florence, Pontormo, Franciabigio, and more. They are lovely and the setting is serene, calm, and just perfect on a cold winters day, or a hot crowded one in Florence.