Saturday, May 29, 2010

Da Rocco, San Ambrogio market, Firenze

San Ambrogio Mercato is one of the oldest markets in Florence: Fruit and veg under cover outside, and cheeses, fish and meat inside. It's near the Santa Croce area of Firenze, much smaller than the reknowned San Lorenzo market in the centre, but one of the highlights is the busy trattoria Da Rocco. We always look foward to lunch there, and sometimes have to wait a while to grab a table if our group is large-ish. Signore Rocco himself provides much of the interest: he doesn't stop running for the entire lunch service. He must be in his 60s, (or 70s?) but still has time to pose for a quick foto! Food is quick/slow (ie quick to serve, but offering many slow food dishes), traditional and local food, excellent value for money. And fun. Don't expect tablecloths or fine glassware: it's paper mats (often covered in interesting titbits of local information) and stemless water glasses to drink from (use the same glass for the wine and the water).

Friday, May 28, 2010


A fabulous day in the rolling hills of Chianti, and a few hours at Verrazzano, one of the oldest wineries in the area. (Their history includes the discoverer of the sea passage into New York.) A tour of the gardens and the cellars is topped off with lunch and a very generous wine tasting. Ahhhh those yummy sangiovese grapes!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Firenze: relax by the Arno River

When the crowds in the centre of Firenze become too much, take a stroll (or a little ATAF electric orange bus) down to the Arno. Near Ponte S Niccolo is Giardino Antonio, and a litle box of a bar Lungano dei Tempio. It's right on the edge of the garden and the Arno and a cool place to sit if it's a hot day. You can watch the rowers in their kayaks and sculls, up and down the green river in front of you (they can't go too far towards Pisa because of the cement restraining tables). Individual scullers with their relaxed windmill technique, and the occasional novice splashing past. You can buy a glass of wine and a generous serve of foccacio with salami or prosciutto or formaggio for less than $10. Just don't drink the water from the Arno. Or even put your toes in. Molto pericoloso!

Firenze: Santissima Annunciata

One of the beautiful buildings in Piazza Santissima Annunciata is the Ospedale Innocenti, designed by Michelangelo. On top of the arches at the front are some beautiful blue Della Robbia sculptures, and a few identifying the building as one that looks after abandoned babies. Inside, where conferences and art shows are often held, we saw some examples of students' work in terracotta- a modern example of the same swadlinged baby subject.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Ten minutes after arriving at my friends' home in Firenze, I had a helmet on, and had climbed aboard Adri's motor bike for a speedy trip to Piazza Santissima Annunciata to view an excellent (and moving) art exhibition, assembled by teachers and students in memory of Professore and friend Bruno Benelli, a Fiorentine maestro of sculpture, who died just one year ago.