• Boboli Gardens - Tuscan Countryside - Florence, Italy

  • Piazzele Michelangelo - Sunset Through the Storm - Florence, Italy-2

  • cropped-Ponte-Vecchio-at-Night-Florence-Italy.jpg

Every time I go to the USA, I find things that are “startling”. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes not so much. Recently I traveled to Nashville to be with my parents when my Father was having surgery. Here are some of my observations:

1. The European airlines that I have flown on recently (Air France, Iberia) are better than their American partners (Delta, American). The food is better, they maintained their schedules, the personnel was nicer, and the food and drink superb. They also didn’t make me miss my flight in Miami, nor lose my luggage. Anybody that gives me free alcohol in coach is a friend to me! (you need it on those transatlantic flights)

2. I am always surprised when I have to pay sales tax on items! Strange that I did it for so many years and quickly adjusted to paying exactly what the price says at the cash register. In Nashville, the sales tax is 10% and that makes me gasp!

3. The prices of wine, and mixed drinks in the States far exceeds that of Italy. I can buy a nice bottle of wine for 5-6 euro, and in the USA it is a minimum of 15. Mixed drinks at a bar in the USA seem to cost $10-$17, depending what city you are in.
4. The produce section of the grocery stores are laughable and so is the produce itself. I did find a wonderful fruit and vegetable stand nearby and I WAY overreacted with excitement!

5. They are still publishing my favorite magazines, O and More. Unfortunately, I can’t really relate to them now…even over a Bloody Mary!
6. The hospitals seem like hotels! Capitalism at its best or worst? How much does THAT cost?

7. The doctors and nurses seem to have to explain to the poor, sick, drugged patient, everything that could possibly go wrong with any and all procedures, medications, or processes that they perform. It doesn’t seem healthy for the patient. I thought I was going to have a heart attack and I was only visiting.

8. I still love a good Vodka Martini, which is scarce in Italy. They have vodka, but they don’t always have martini glasses, and they would NEVER have these fabulous Blue Cheese Stuffed olives.
9. I was there when they did the second Republiccan debate. No words!

Back home, just in the nick of time!

In connection with the Milano Expo, a series of Dinner’s were held in the Cloister’s of some of the best and most famous Churches with Cenacolo’s in Florence. The cost of these events was 80 euro per person, and it was worth every cent. Chefs from around Italy participated in cooking an aperitivo, and 4 course meal with 4 different wines.


The dinners were scheduled at San Marco, Santo Spirito, and Ognissanti. I signed up for the Ognissanti one, even though I visit the Cenacolo often. It’s in my neighborhood and simply beautiful. Unfortunately due to ongoing work in the Cloister the location had to be changed to Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, which is on the other side of town. The church is beautiful and the Cloister and table were lovely that night lit by candlelight. Most of the art work from this church, which was done by the master’s Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino have been removed and replaced by lesser known artists. One Perugino still remains.



The aperitivo consisted of prosecco and some bits of gelato that were infused with a variety of flavors like olive, onion, baccala, and other Tuscan tastes.
The first course was a surf and turf with a variety of vegetables.
The primo piatto consisted of gnudi with a sauce of chicken livers that was hearty and to die for.
This was by far my favorite dih of the night!
The second course was a pork medallion roasted with baby vegetables.
Each of these courses was accompanied by a wonderful wine, and the dessert course, gelato was accompanied by an incredible moscato!
The Chef for the event that we attended was Luca Landi of the Green Park Resort in Tirrenia.

It was a fantastic evening, and even though the Expo in Milano will end soon, it seems that almost every year there are special events and happenings that you should investigate when you visit! These types of things are a once in a lifetime memory.


For the first time that I have known of, there was a French market in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. This piazza seems underutilized to me and this was a perfect size market for the piazza.



There were a few booths of pastries, cheeses, champagnes, wines, mustards, and spreads. There were also wonderful spices, lavender, beautiful table cloths and scarves and lots of great looking food.



This time of year, there are so many wonderful sagras and festivals going on, it is sometimes hard to get around to them all. If you are traveling to Italy in the Fall, be sure and look for these in the cities where you are traveling and in small surrounding communities. This is where you can really get a feel for the Italian culture….even if it is a French market!