2019, here you are again, you sly dog.
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This post is predictably late after an 11 hour road trip from Nico’s hometown in the southwest of France to our tiny, yet very busy corner of Florence, Italy. My house is freezing, I have nothing in the fridge except some tahini and old butter and the last thing I want to do is a load of laundry and get back to work. Luckily Ginger the beagle is providing much needed warmth (I see why people slept with their animals in the past) and we are slowly but surely getting back to a sort of post-holiday routine.
Admittedly, It was a bit of whirlwind this month and the highs and lows that comes with it between loads of projects that needed finishing, a five-day trip to Los Angeles to see one of my closest friends get hitched and driving a day or so after to France for the holidays with my in-laws. We even were able to carve out a few days for a quick trip to OPorto, Portugal to ring in the New Year in one of the prettiest places we’ve discovered, and just as crowded as Florence on a good day.
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I’m currently working on a winter in Florence article that will offer more tips for the entire season but for those who happen to be coming this month here is a little info for January 2019 in Florence:
Expect the weather to be cold, even frigid with temperatures averaging around 45 degrees (7 celsius) with lows of 37 (3 celsius) of course you may be laughing at me from Boston, Canada or anywhere truly cold but here the houses rarely are as warm or inviting, the humidity can make it feel as if it is much colder than it actually is so pack a good coat, scarf and gloves. Today January 5th for example, it is 41 degrees farenheight (5 degrees celsius) with my fingers burning after an hour outside this morning. Many people would call this month “low season” but in reality it is very crowded the weekend of Befana/Epiphany and the week after because of Pitti Uomo (8-11th), after Pitti Uomo things do die out a bit but Florence being Florence, there are always going to be a fair amount of people/groups milling about.
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*The cover image for this post is from Pixaby Creative Commons — a site that is super generous with its image use and you can share your own images too!
As Per Usual, A Little Bit of January 2019 Link Love
- “I think foreigners love Tuscan men because we’re fit,” says Jacopo. “We play soccer and go hunting. In the summer, we have fantastic tans and we’re always exercising.” This is just one “gem” from this hilarious article about What Makes Tuscan Men So Attractive by Elisa Scarton via The Florentine. Stay humble boys!
- I’m not the only who does monthly events lists, make sure to check out The Florentine and Discover Tuscany (for the region) and their fab roundups as well.
- Who doesn’t adore a love story, especially when intermingled with fabulous food? I love this behind the scenes look at cookbook writer Emiko Davies soon-to-come (March 2019) “Tortellini at Midnight” that tells the story of a family that moved from the heel of Italy to its top in search of a better life.
- In the world of blogging, writing, social media pioneering: paying it forward in my opinion is the most beautiful thing you can do. So when you see a cookbook writer shares a bunch of other people’s amazing cookbooks that in their eyes “really work”, you know they kind of rock. I love Jul’s Kitchen’s extensive list with known favorites like Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, by Samin Nostrat and ones that I am really keen to try, like Eat this poem, by Nicole Gulotta.
- I am so very excited that Lisa Clifford, Australian writer living in Florence, is now hosting her beautiful “Art of Writing” workshops in our Renaissance city. I had the pleasure to go a few year’s ago and it was an incredible experience that I would recommend to anyone looking to write a book. Ps. you get to stay at Palazzo San Niccolo too which is one of the hotels in the city (my opinion).
- The artwork titled “Vase of Flowers” by Jan van Huysum was stolen from Pitti Palace during second world war by Nazi solder’s retreating from Florence and German Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt is trying his best to get this precious piece of art back where it belongs. Go Eike!
- A new landing fee might be coming to those who plan on spending just a day in the city of Venice…
- Love art and Tuscany? You are in luck, ArtTrav has just published her yearly roundup of the best exhibitions around this region that you need to know!
And a special note to those of you who might be new to Italy or Florence. If you are checking out my blog for the first time, first of all benvenuta! Feel free to browse my list of recommended eats around town here or get beyond the obvious tips on exploring the city here. I did this interview with the regional blog Around Tuscany that tells you a little more of my story if you’re interested and you can see my work over at Italy Magazine, Luxos Magazine, Lonely Planet, among others.
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Many people extend their holiday until the Epiphany on January 6th and expect a crowded Florence the weekend of 5/6th as people come out for their daily passeggiata and enjoy the sunny, yet very cold weather along with a friendly old witch “Befana” that brings nice kids candy and naughty kids coal. She also visits the vigili urbano with gifts of panettone for the local traffic cops, in fact you might see some in Piazza Repubblica on the morning of the 6th along with vintage cars.
As per tradition, on January 6th there will be a historical procession of the Florentine Republic including the Cavalcata dei Magi (a reenactment of the three wise men) that will leave at 2pm from Piazza Pitti to parade through the streets of the historic center, arriving at 3.30pm in Piazza Duomo, where, after the greeting of the figures, the Magi will deposit their gifts at the feet of Jesus at the Living Nativity scene.
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I cannot think of a better way to reset yourself for the New Year than by planning a few self-care sessions whether it exercise, massage, yoga, mindfulness and more. Luckily my friends Relax Firenze do all of these things in a calm, relaxing environment smack dab in the center of town. Here’s their January lineup!
I’ve been quite curious about Michael Frayn’s epic “Copenhagen” a play that centers around the ruptured friendship between the German atomic physicist Werner Heisenberg, and his former mentor, Niels Bohr, after their meeting in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen in 1941 and this play is actually coming to Florence (yay!) at the Teatro della Pergola from January 8th-13th.
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Don’t miss Leonardo da Vinci’s “Codex Leicester” currently on display at the Uffizi Galleries as a preview of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death (1519). This will be a unique opportunity to closely analyze the contents of the Codex Leicester, created by Leonardo da Vinci in Florence between 1504 and 1508. Temporarily lent to the city of Florence by its owner, Bill Gates, the Codex Leicester will be on display from 29 October 2018 to 20 January 2019 at the “Magliabechiana Hall” of the Uffizi. Handwritten by Leonardo between 1504 and 1508, the 72 sheets the codex is made of are full of prodigious notes and extraordinary sketches on water and environment. How absolutely brilliant!
Eataly Florence is offering some really cool events this month starting with their weekend of Trippa & Lampredotto extravaganza on January 12th and 13th, a homage to the “cucina povera” in Florence that often uses offal as the basis for dishes (if you try it, you’ll impress the locals!) . Also on offer (and I am seriously considering this) is a gluten-free Indian cooking class for couples (65€) on January 22nd where you will learn how to make veggie samosas, Korma chicken , chapati and rice. Keep in mind that you can custom your own cooking class here (and it’s very affordable compared to local rates) – just write them at [email protected].
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It’s time to official resurrect “Pitti the Fool” – same joke I used every year, sorry – because the Pitti fashionistas are back in town for four days from January 8-11th as part of an annual menswear trade fair at Pitti Imagine Uomo, now in its 95th edition. This year’s theme is the “Pitti Box”. This is of course very exciting in some ways (great looking people everywhere you go) and very annoying in others (pea-cocking is rampant, traffic sucks and taxis are nonexistent, plan ahead!). Unless you work in the field, you can’t actually go to the shows but there will be plenty of afterparties and men in sock-less loafers, looking fashionably chilly, as they mill about town. My advice? Get out your cameras and join the fun, I know I will! Or you can follow me on Instagram as I will attend at least one or two events for the shear voyeur-ness of it all. You can check out the full list of events on the official website here.
Are you a British national living in Florence? The fine folks over at St. Marks English Church are hosting a Town Hall Meeting on January 9th at 6pm with the British Ambassador to Italy, Jill Morris CMG, to discuss citizens’ rights in the wake of Brexit. To attend please RSVP to [email protected]
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Storytellers in Florence is back this month on January 12th (Saturday) with a different format that I am very excited about called “Skip the Small Talk” . You must pre-register via Eventbright to attend and places go fast! Book your spot here.
Take a piece of paper, grab a beer and let your creativity run wild under the expert guidance of teachers from Comics & Arts Academy TheSign for a night of drawing at The Student Hotel on January 17th. The fun starts at 8pm, reserve your spot by emailing [email protected]
Love artisan beer? Head out to a special event dedicated to the best Italian artisanal beers at “Birraio dell’Anno” from January 18th to the 20th at Obihall. Tickets cost around 10 euros and you can try upwards to a 100 different producers all in one place. More details can be found here.
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Fans of street artist pioneer Banksy can still check out the “Banksy. This is not a photo opportunity” exhibition at Palazzo Medici Riccardi (via Cavour 31) until February 24th. On display is a selection of 20 of the street artist’s most famous and memorable works.
You may not know this but during the nineteenth century, the Rificolona farmer’s market was traditionally held in Piazza SS. Annunziata on the occasion of the birth of the Virgin Mary. From 1984 onwards this tradition has seen a revival and nowadays multiple ‘Fierucole’ are being held every month, dedicated mainly to small-scale organic farming, crafts and rural life, involving small family farms and local artisans. This January, head to Piazza Santo Spirito on the 20th of January for a peek into one of my favorite, and most traditional, local markets where you can buy organic honey, kombucha, parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of local people-watching.
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Another reason to love January is that it marks the start of “saldi” aka sales season in Italy and this is the prime time to pick up anything major you need for your house as prices are slashed all over the city (typically from 30% – 70%). It’s hard to think about spending money right after Christmas but I will say, this would be the time I would purchase pots and pans, sheets and linens, jackets and shoes. Pickings can quickly become limited for popular shops like Cos or Coin Casa, but you’ll see discounts up until mid-february.
The British Institute of Florence offers a wide range of interesting events that are often open to the public. It’s a great way to meet people and feel part of the community (joining as a member is a great idea as well), here are some of their offerings this January.
- Celebrating 200 Years of U.S. Diplomatic Presence in Italy, January 16th, 6-7pm. Join Consul General Benjamin Wohlauer for a lecture in English about this historic connection.
- Reading Exchange, January 17th, 4-5pm. All you have to go is come along with a book you have read and enjoyed recently. Each person will have a few minutes to talk about their books. This is a stimulating way in which to hear about books other people have been reading and that might appeal to you. This event is open to all. Afternoon tea served from 16.30. More details here.
Make sure to catch the last days of Palazzo Strozzi’s Marina Abramović The Cleaner before it closes shop on the 20th of January. This major exhibition features Marina Abramović, one of the most famous and controversial figures in contemporary art, whose works have revolutionized the idea of performance, testing her body and expressive potential to the limit. Expect over a hundred works from her most famous creations, from a career ranging from the 1970s to the 2000s, including videos, photographs, paintings, objects, installations, and live recreations of her most famous performances by a group of performers specially chosen and trained for this show. I loved it, I went twice, I then read her memoir. It’s impossible not to get in your head.
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For those with kids in tow, consider a visit to the Firenze Winter Park basically an ice-skating rink and more (you can take the number 14 bus from the center of Florence, it’s located along the river at Lungarno Aldo Moro, 7) besides ice-skating they also have a fun “snow tube” where you can fly down a man-made ramp. Great for families or masochistic adults. Open until March 10th this year. Costs around 8€ (per adult), + 2€ for renting the skates.
The Vintage Selection fair 33 is back at the Stazione Leopolda from January 23-27th for a few days of vintage fashion held for the first time at the Fortezza da Basso, in the Cavaniglia Pavilion. The entry fee is 5€ and I’d pair it with happy hour which coincidentally could be dangerous because you’ll certainly want to buy more after a drink or three.
You guys may or may not know that I am a gal who loves to go to the movies and this is a great month to escape #FrigidFlorence in the comfort of one of its most magnificent cinemas smack dap in the center of town, I’m talking about the Odeon cinehall in Piazza Strozzi. This month there is more interesting lineup that I have seen in a while, starting with the Polish black and white love story “Cold War”, At Eternity’s Gate: Van Gogh, “Pepe Mujica: La noche de 12 amos , Mary Queen of Scotts and more. can be found here The full program until January 30th. Tickets cost €8,50 a pop or you can take advantage of their membership of 7 cinema entries for €45,50.