Fear not November’s challenge bold—
We’ve books and friends,
And hearths that never can grow cold:
These make amends!
~Alexander L. Fraser (1870–1954), “November,” c.1918
What would a year be without a November? Typically reviled and scorned as a depressing month with short, dark days and plenty of rain, I see it a little different. It’s a month where I typically dive into cooking warm, comforting meals and rearrange my wardrobe (boring but necessary).
It’s the month of our wedding anniversary, this year marks two years and it feels like this year has flown by. He got a promotion, we still haven’t found a house to buy, and the world seems to be freaking out with every “breaking news” update that pops on my iPhone’s screen. November also marks the month of Thanksgiving, one American holiday I will always embrace as it involves two elements worth cherishing: good food laden across a large table and good company. We also planning a trip to Los Angeles and San Diego (send your tips!) in December, followed by a return to Texas to visit my family for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
If you plan on visiting Florence, Italy this November my recommendation is to be prepared for grey, overcast days and the occasional rainstorm. Pack layers as per usual, umbrella, a warm scarf, waterproof shoes and plan on trying Tuscany’s wonderful autumnal cuisine: cavolo nero and chickpea soup, drizzled new extra-virgin olive oil with its spicy kick, succulent slow-cooked wild boar, and of course anything with porcini or truffles.
Link Love For The Month of November
- Obviously I am not the only one with a passion for having fun in Florence. Check out The Florentine and Visit Florence’s great post on cool events happening around the region.
- You guys know how much I love my carbs so thank you food writer Elizabeth Minchilli for providing these rules on eating bread in Italy.
- On the news about Catalonia’s current battle with Spain, I realize I don’t really know much about why this is happening, or what it is like to be there right now when all of this is happening. Matt Goulding of Roads and Kingdoms writes this thoughtful piece on attending an independence parade.
- After the news of Harvey Weinstein has taken over the inter webs, I really enjoyed this interview with celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain on thoughts he has on his very male-dominated industry and his personal regrets on Slate.
- Thanks to Coral Sisk of Curious Appetite, we have a great roundup of new Farm-to-Table options going on in the Sant’ambrogio area of Florence. I’m a fan.
- I love minestrone, a hearty vegetable soup from Italy, and here’s where to find some of the best takes on this beloved winter wish in the city of Milan.
- It warms my heart when someone who previously didn’t give Florence a chance has a revelation and my friend and established writer Erica Firpo’s post on her blog Ciao Bella is a forever reminder of an awesome day we had out in the city.
- I loved this article on the Atlas Obscura on the forgotten Italian tradition of building monumental food palaces.
- For those heading to Bologna anytime soon, you might want to check out the Guardian’s latest feature on one of my (now) favorite Italian cities. Also check out my feature on this city from earlier this year.
What else am I excited about for this month? Have a look at the list below. Keep in mind that this is not at all an “official” list but the city but instead my own personal favorites on what to do and where to go around town. This is a personal blog after all 🙂
The Underground: a Response to Dostoevsky will be showing at Teatro della Pergola on November 2nd and 3rd at 8:45 pm and this sounds like a real treat! Thomas Richards directs this new creation of the Focused Research Team in Art as Vehicle, in which different approaches to theater, never before explored in Richards’ work, come together with a line of performative research conducted by him over 30 years at the Workcenter. More info here.
Florence Tattoo Festival: Nov 3rd-5th. This is always a lot of fun if you are into the “ink,” and even if you’re not. This annual festival is back for this three-day important event in the tattoo world. Spectators are more than welcome and if you were thinking of getting a tattoo, this would be a good time. You might find me having a wander on Saturday. More info via the official website here.
Creatives looking to improve their photography skills should join the fun with professional photographer Olga Makarova this Saturday, Nov 4th, in Cascine park for a lesson in capturing Autumn colors.
Fierucola delle lane di S.Martino (fair dedicated to the wool of San Martino) is another fun market you should check out in Piazza SS. Annunziata this Saturday, November 4th and Sunday the 5th. In addition to wool-based items, you will find a variety of organic goods. You can read more here and I am guessing it is yet another excuse for a lovely market in one of the city’s best squares.
Yoga lovers will love this pop-up studio by Shari of Sole Yoga Holidays offering vinyasa flow classes, 3 times per week until December 20th.
First free Sundays is something I have been including in every monthly lineup because how amazing is it that in a city with so many museums, they offer at least one day where you can visit some of the most important places in town, for free. This month’s free museum Sunday falls on November 5th. I recommend visiting lesser-known but incredible places like the Bargello Museum, Palazzo Vecchio and the Brancacci Chapel near piazza della carmine. FYI the Palazzo Vecchio is open today from 9am-11pm, Santa Maria Novella: 1pm-5:30pm, Archealogical area at Palazzo Vecchio: 9am-11pm, Museo Novecento 1pm – 5pm, Cappella Brancacci in Santa Maria del Carmine: 1pm to 17. More info can be found here on which museums are free and open.
Almost 300 years later, the last two heirs of the Medici Dynasty are brought back to life in a multimedia masterpiece of “infotainment,” that combines digital reproductions of the family’s extraordinary and invaluable artistic patrimony with live theatrical performances. There are five shows every day except Monday , all lasting a duration 1 hour. All shows will be held in English at the former Convent of Sant’Onofrio delle Monache di Foligno (via faenza 48). More info: email email@example.com. full 30 €, students (to age 25) 20 €, children under 12 free, family options are also available. official event website.
Check out the premiere screening of the television special with the Advancing Women Artists Foundation ‘Monuments women’ at the inauguration of the 39th ‘Festival Internazionale di Cinema e Donne’, at 6.30pm on November 8 at the Cinema la Campagnia con Via Cavour. It’s a traipse lesser-known museum-gems like Cerreto Guidi, La Petraia and San Salvi in search of art by women.
The Firenze Winter Park is back in action along the Lungarno (you can take the number 14 bus) and offers a chance to ice-skate and “snow tube” down a man-made ramp. Great for kids and masochistic adults.
Looking to relax during the gloomy short days of November? Luckily there is a studio in Florence dedicated to 360 degrees of wellness and offers a variety of spa treatments, relaxations techniques, yoga and more. I love these people and absolutely recommend a pampering session or mind-body experience at Relax Firenze.
I am so so excited that my good friend and expert guide Alexandra Lawrence has resumed her “Fall walks and talks,” a joy for any local (or visitors) in Florence who is looking to expand their knowledge with fun visits to interesting museums and exhibitions around the city. This season Alex’s focus is on the Cinquecento era of great art with plenty of literary references. Below are the two options (in her words) for this November, on the 4th and the 25th. Send her an email to reserve your spot -> firstname.lastname@example.org
- Saturday, November 4th at 10am Cinquecento sculpture and architecture in Florence, 20 euro . This walk will focus on some of the most important statuary created in Cinquecento Florence and still on public view today. We will see how works by Giambologna, Cellini and Bandini tell the story of the changing society headed up by the first Medici grand duke, Cosimo I. Similarly, we will understand how architectural masterpieces by Bartolommeo Ammannati, Giorgio Vasari and Baccio d’Agnolo transformed the city center and were essential in creating a new message of political power and prestige under the Medici now in official control of the Tuscan state.
- Saturday, November 25th at 10am, Meeting Pontormo, Rosso + Giambologna, 20 euro, This visit we will get to know more about Jacopo Carucci (Pontormo), Giovan Battista di Jacopo (Rosso Fiorentino), and Jean Boulogne (Giambologna) by visiting some of their Florentine works still in situ. We will begin at Santissima Annunziata with the façade and the Chiostrino dei Voti before entering the Cappella di San Luca, also known as the Cappella dei Pittori, where Pontormo is buried. We will also see Giambologna’s burial chapel and a beautiful bronze crucifix he designed for the high altar. After the church, we will visit a few neighborhood spots, including stops outside the house-workshops of Pontormo and Giambologna.
Art lovers will be seriously excited about the new exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi this month which will be on until 21 January 2018. It is titled The Cinquecento in Florence. From Michelangelo and Pontormo to Giambologna and it is a spectacular exhibition devoted to the art of the 16th century in Florence showcasing over seventy works of art by such artists as Michelangelo, Bronzino, Giorgio Vasari, Rosso Fiorentino, Pontormo, Santi di Tito, Giambologna and Bartolomeo Ammannati.”
The above also pairs well with the CCC Strozzina exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi, Radical Utopias, covering exciting movement in Florence in the 60’s and 70’s. The exhibition will be bringing together for the very first time in a single venue the visionary work of such groups and figures as 9999, Archizoom, Remo Buti, Gianni Pettena, Superstudio, Ufo and Zzigurat, in a kaleidoscopic dialogue between objects of design, videos, installations, performances and narratives.
I adore contemporary art and if you do too, Lo schermo dell’arte Film Festival, a contemporary art film festival is this month in Florence from November 15-19th at various venues around town.
Check out artwork by SACI’s graduate students at an open studios event on Thursday, November 16th in the Jules Maidoff Palazzo. Meet with the artists and see the work they’ve developed after one and two years of working in Florence. Refreshments will be served.
If you are as obsessed with wine as I am, Signorvino by the Ponte Vecchio is offering 4 evenings of an informative yet informal introduction to wine which will combine 4 glasses paired with finger foods for the cost of 35€ otherwise you can do all four classes for €109,90. Below are the options for this November. Please note that the tastings will be in English and Italian!
- Thursday, November 16 from 20:00: Bollicine (Bubbles) Wines
- Thursday 14th December from 20:00: White Wines
- Thursday 18 January from 20:00: Red Wines
- Thursday, February 15, from 20:00: Food & Wine pairing
Stop by the store to reserve: address: Via Dei Bardi, 46 / r – Tel: 055 286258
Or email: email@example.com.
Guide Molly McIlwrath is offering a museum visit on November 18th for adults and kids together at Museo Horne ( all ages welcome ) + hands-on bookbinding workshop after for families ( age 7 + ) at Il Torchio, a place I really cherish in Florence. More info here.
The Florence wine event is back (YES) from November 18th-19th on my side of the river at the Vecchio Conventino on via Giano Della Bella 20. A time for tasting wine with some of the region’s best producers.
This month’s organic market in piazza di santo spirito is on Sunday, November 19th and will feature new olive oil as their prized star fresh from this seasons harvest which always takes place this season. For those who don’t have a car to buy great oil direct, this is the time to pick up some truly quality extra-virgin oil, plus other foodstuffs from trusted local producers.
Since the expat community is so large here, you better believe they also celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in Florence at many restaurants around town on November 23rd. Also you can do your own thing at home too and order treats such as pumpkin pie or turkey from places like Mama’s Bakery, your turkey from Sant’Ambrogio market or a local rosticceria. I will add to this list as I find out about more Thanksgiving-related events and feel free to let me know some too!
The Florence marathon is happening this year on November 26th and participants will “enjoy” a 42 kilometer run through the center of Renaissance’s Italy art and history capital. More info on the 36th edition of the race can be found here.
Weihnachtsmarkt the annual Christmas Market is back in Piazza Santa Croce on November 29th – December 17th. As per usual you can expect to find wooden stands selling a variety of Christmas-themed gifts along with overpriced sausage, huge pretzels and spiced red wine. My advice is to avoid going on a Sunday :).
The perfect November activity is a trip to the trusty cinema, in my case our beloved original-language theater Odeon which is back on track with a superb list of options. And there is plenty to see this month including the much anticipated Viceroy’s House, Il Mio Godard, The Big Sick, Loving Vincent. check out the program here Price: 8 euros for a normal ticket.
Outside of Florence
- Tuscan wine resort Dievole is hosting a special “olio day” on November 5th outside of Siena with a special menu curated by Simone Cipriani (Ristorante Essenziale in Florence) and Alberto Sparacino (Ristorante Cum Quibus of San Gimignano), and two of the resident cafes at Dievole, Massimiliano Volonterio and Monika Filipinska. I’ll be there and I am SO excited. More info on this event and how to book here.
- The San Miniato Truffle Fair is BACK in action this month from November 11-26th in this picturesque hill-top Tuscan town an easy train or car ride away from Florence. This is a great chance to get acquainted with the famous tuber among the market stalls and my recommendation is to book a spot at Terrazza Miravalle (in Piazza Duomo) for a sumptuous lunch where you can also buy a white truffle to eat with your email or take home.
- Pizza and Champagne is the theme at this November 9th dinner at Lo Spela in Greve di Chianti. You can enjoy a a gourmet pie by Lo Spela and champagne curated by sommelier Andrea Formigli of Vinoteca al Chianti for a cool 35€. More info can be found here.
There are so many things on this list that I’d LOVE to do in Florence and a few that I Have done when I was a student there (Odeon… and Thanksgiving but back then it was a lot tougher to get all the ingredients…! :). My mom loves pop up yoga and I’m all about the wine events so I feel this month would be perfect for us there. Add to that my love for traveling off season and eating Fall fare and I think November is the perfect month in a lot of European cities actually!
Basically what I’m trying to do is to get you to come back and visit girl! Are you planning on spending Thanksgiving in Spain and are you celebrating? It’s gotten a heck of a lot easier to in Florence, my local rosticceria actually gets excited when I order a turkey. Pretty the last Americana holiday I celebrate here. Fall is truly one of the best months to be here and honestly October was super crowded so we are all hoping for a bit of a break here in Firenze.
In San Diego, Craft and Commerce has fantastic cocktails and a really fun prohibition-era vibe. If you’re into cheesy stuff you can check out Kansas City Barbecue where Goose sings “Great Balls of FIre” in Top Gun. And you really should go to the Hyatt hotel (right near KC Barbecue if I remember right), get in the correct elevator to go to the top, and there’s a bar up there called — get this — the Top of the Hyatt. You don’t have to eat/drink at the bar though — just go to check out the most incredible views of the city. Also take a ferry to Coronado if you have time. The “island” is super quaint with little shops and wine bars and the most adorable multi-million dollar cottages. (Lots of pics on my blog.) There’s also the famous “Hotel Del” which is cool to walk through. I love San Diego. 🙂
L.A. is fabulous as well. There’s just so much to do. The one thing I can’t stop thinking about though is the “Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake” at Valerie Confections in Grand Central Market. I know… you’ve seen a million spectacular markets in Italy, so this will be nothing special to you. And, if you go, everyone will tell you to eat at Eggslut, which I’ll admit I didn’t try because the line was insane. But just a little further into the market is Valerie’s where you can get a slice of this incredible sponge cake with a light coffee cream frosting and honeycomb crunch on top. It’s just… I dream about it. (And I don’t even really have much of a sweet tooth!)
Thank you so so much Katie. I so appreciate you taking the time to write your tips. I used to live in Los Angeles but that was 10 year’s ago so I need any advice that I could get. Coronado is a nice idea. We only have two days so I’m not sure how much time we’ll have but if the weather is nice I might try and make that a priority. Nico has a sweet tooth so I will have to try that coffee cake!
Oh hah! I do remember reading you’re from LA. Glad I didn’t send many tips then – I would’ve felt like an idiot. 😉
I’m actually from Texas but I lived in L.A. for a few years so honestly your tips are so welcome!
I love November when the sun shines and the air is crisp and clean like it is today. And I bet it’s a great time to visit Florence without the crowds of the summer.
Surprisingly there are still plenty of visitors but there are less people, sure. I adore November because it’s quite fun to embrace the cold and get into seasonal treats like chestnuts and Porcini mushrooms.