“Sour Cherries, After GG”, 2011 by Paulette Tavormina ~ Courtesy of Beetles+Huxley, London
June encapsulates the end of spring and beginning of summer. Here in Florence, it’s the time of the swallows dancing euphorically in the sky, the weather is warm enough to bare shoulders and sit in outdoor cafés at night.
It’s my rest time. I sink into everyday Florentine life and become a Fiorentina finta… a pretend Florentine. I have my rhythm to the day that starts at the market, then a stop at my favorite café. I often have a chat with Isidoro, the bar man. The other day the subject was San Sepulcro. “Giotto was born there”, says Isidoro. “No, you’re thinking of Piero della Francesca” says a patron in a relaxed blue suit with a rusky voice. “Giotto was born in Vicchio. He may have had a “casa finta”, but he was born elsewhere”, said the professor. You better know your art history if you want to converse with Florentines.
Meanwhile, we are sipping our coffee without a rush. No to-go lines are pushing us. There’s something refreshing about the old world. A step in any direction and you touch Renaissance art and architecture. Florence is a living museum, displaying a way of life that has lifted our humanity for centuries in the way we interpret and define beauty.
The bells of the Arnolfo Tower that commands the Palazzo Vecchio and piazza Signoria, ring every hour right outside my window. I live a block behind. It is my tower of power, my column of strength. I study its stature. I watch the phases of the moon as she passes by at night. I know the different rings and what they mean. The Sunday bells remind people what day it is. The evening bells bring the day to a close. You hear them wherever you are in the city.
There is a simple pleasure that comes from the sound, no matter where you are, it brings attention to say, stop.
Take a breath. Look around.
Appreciate the lines of symmetry, proportion and geometry.
Similar in measure and depth, is the food. Time-tested traditional meals are still the backbone of the cuisine. There is great seasonal excitement amongst the local chefs when the season brings its favorite food, whether it’s artichokes or agretti. This is what you will find on your plate.
TuscanyPhotos of Peggy and cheering glasses by www.iamstephensmith.com
Florence is built on the highest ideal of man and nature in balance. This philosophy resonates with me and I feel at home in myself here.
I confess that these are also the ideals that I look for in designing my trips.
A sense of balance and beauty, bringing attention to all that is beautiful and nourishing.
The blush of June is abundant with red cherries, roses and soon there will be ripe peaches. The skies are blue and warm and the clouds are puffy and pink — perfect to sit and enjoy the view with a glass of Sangiovese and contemplate the inspiration that made this town at one point 500 years ago, an unparalleled ideal of society.
For me, the ripeness of June also means sailing. Florence is lovely, but the sea calls. I packed my tasty Sicilian sea salt, Tuscan olive oil, good tea and homemade jams, my favorite knife and frying pan and off I went looking like a vagabond on the train to Naples. I jumped the ferry to Procida and set up the sailboat with fresh lemons, herbs, cherry tomatoes and fruit. The rest came from the sea and small markets in the island ports of Ischia and Capri as we sailed along to the Amalfi coast with delightful guests from Colorado and New Zealand. Another savory journey of sea and sun. Feeling refreshed and grateful.
Ready to trade Florence and the sea for the mountains of Colorado. Have a delicious summer!