Monthly Archives: December 2013

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – Happy New Year in Florence

New Year's Celebration in Florence
New Year’s Celebration in Florence

Tuscan Traveler believes that 2014 is going to be the best year yet in Florence. So now we need to get 2013 to give up the ghost and move on.

Time to visit the classics
Time to visit the classics

Everybody, especially the Chinese and Russians tourists, are coming to visit. As the U.S. economy climbs to the top again, we look forward to Americans giving up their “staycations” and coming back to where the food and views are the best in the world! Florence and Tuscany!

Snow on the Florence Duomo
Snow on the Florence Duomo

We are ambivalent about snow in Florence, but for a day or two in January it gives us something to talk about. And the museums are empty so we will catch up on the new exhibits.

Fireworks in Florence at the New Year
Fireworks in Florence at the New Year

So be sure to check into what Tuscan Traveler has to offer in the coming year. If you or friends and family are coming for a visit, visit Friend In Florence for tours and services.

Danta & Guido send best wishes for 2014
Dante & Guido send best wishes for 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Italian Life Rules (the book) is coming in Summer 2014. Italian Food Rules by Ann Reavis is available now. You can buy Italian Food Rules by using these links:

Amazon. com (U.S.) eBook for Kindle & Kindle Apps

Italian Food Rules: The BookAmazon. com (U.S.) paperback

Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)

Amazon.it (Italy)

Amazon.de (Germany)

Amazon.fr (France)

Barnes & Noble (U.S.) eBook for Nook

Burnt To A Crisp – The Italian Post Office, Of Course.

Among my friends and family, they know how much I hate Italian Post Offices. Some have described it as a phobia: ufficiopostalefobia (postophobia (var. Italian)).

The smaller the better
The smaller the better

Actually, it is not the post office building that I object to. There are many incredibly beautiful post offices in Italy.

It’s the people who work there.

The façade hides it all
The façade hides it all

Actually, before the byzantine numbering system was put in place, I disliked everyone I came into contact with at the post office, because when we all had to stand in a waiting line, Italians (men or women) seemed to think the closer they were pressed to the back of the person in front of them (me), the faster they would get to the window.  Or they (mostly the wily pensioners) would cut in front of me with “solo una piccola domanda” (only a short question).

Get your number here
Get your number here

Actually, it’s also that computerized numbering system, now in place in most of Florence’s post offices, I loathe. Because although it has been explained to me that it was the fruit of a scientific study that determined that the pattern of letters and numbers it spits out is the fastest and fairest way to get people served at the post office, I can (in the hour that I am sitting waiting for P178 to appear) unscientifically observe that there are only two windows serving P (for postal) clients, including those with fifty registered letters to have stamped, inscribed, digitally recorded, and sent, and one or the other of the employees behind those two P windows will step away for a pausa (break) at frequent intervals.

Actually, I don’t dislike the people behind the windows (well, except for one or two, and those who live in Florence know to whom I’m referring), I abhor the bureaucratic system in which they have their secure jobs-for-life and I assume they are as unhappy to be there as I am. They sure seem sad. Not a smiley face among them.

Italian postal employeesActually, I didn’t mean to disgorge all of the above because today, I got a present.

But first, a little background. I follow (mostly lurking) the Italian Reflections Group (IRG) on Facebook. It’s a fabulous group of about 1,042 English reading/writing expats living in Italy. About a week ago one of the IRGers posted a diverting story about how on her third trip to the post office to try to mail her EU-bound holiday cards, she was informed that they were smaller than standard size so the postage for these too dainty missives would be 2.50 euro ($3.44) each, instead of the standard rate of 85 centesimi (cents) ($1.16). She, being more polite than me, did not stomp off cursing. She asked if the postage would drop to .85 if she put each holiday envelope into a standard envelope. The answer was “Dipende …” It depended on whether the weight of the combined envelopes and card exceeded the maximum weight for standard postage.

I then told this postal story to Francesca, the Florentine, in an attempt to justify my fobia. She snorted and said, “Well obviously she does not have a “Bustometro.” “Huh?” I said.

Soon after I was the proud owner of the two-sided document seen here:

BUSTOMETRO
BUSTOMETRO

On this side is the measurement guide so that the sender can verify the size of the “corrispondenza” before she sends it. It’s easy! Just place the envelope or post card on the bustometro so that the right lower corner fits and then find out if it is “normalizzata” or, in other words, if the upper left corner fits inside the area colored red.

Prepare the perfect envelope
Prepare the perfect envelope

If you are still confused, the other side of the bustometro shows you exactly how to use the form, with added info about how to address and stamp your envelope. If that wasn’t enough, there are also warnings not to include keys, pins, and paperclips in the contents of your mailing. (If you click on either of these photos you can see all of the fine details.)

You may not find as much comfort as I do from this gift. (OBTW it was issued in the late 1970s or early ’80s.) But I got a tremendous amount of validation that I am, and always have been, correct about how much joy and satisfaction can be gotten from the Italian Post Office experience.

Italian Food Rules: The BookItalian Life Rules (the book) is coming in Summer 2014. Italian Food Rules by Ann Reavis is available now. You can buy Italian Food Rules by using these links:

Amazon. com (U.S.) eBook for Kindle & Kindle Apps

Amazon. com (U.S.) paperback

Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)

Amazon.it (Italy)

Amazon.de (Germany)

Amazon.fr (France)

Barnes & Noble (U.S.) eBook for Nook

Italian Life Rules – Italians Hate Wall-To-Wall Carpeting

It used to be that British and the French perpetuated the myth that the Italians were peasants, living in filth. Read books and essays published in the early 20th century and after WWII in England. Listen to the French, today, as they cross the border in Liguria.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Wall-to-wall carpets prove it.

Pink Shag in California
Pink Shag in California

Remember the shag carpets so popular in the 60s and 70s throughout Britain and the U.S.? Even now, most American and European homes have carpet in the bedrooms and livingrooms. The Swiss rank first in their disdain for wall-to-wall carpets. The Italians run a close second.

Terra Cotta Tiles Made in Italy
Terra Cotta Tiles Made in Italy

Few Italian families tolerate wall-to-wall carpeting because there is no control of the dirt clinging to a rug, especially one that can not be taken out, hung on a line and beaten clean. Not even the strongest vacuum cleaner, used every single day, can assure the Italian homemaker that what is lurking deep in the pile of a carpet has been sucked away.

The Germans argue that allowing the carpet to cling to dust and spores lessens allergic symptoms. They say the dirt on ceramic and wood floors swirls up into the air every time a door is opened or shut.

Wall-To-Wall in NYC
Wall-To-Wall in NYC

Italians declare that is much better to have floors that can be swept every day and mopped with hot soapy water every other day. To some, small washable throw rugs or shakeable area carpets are acceptable to break up the cold and noise of tile, marble and terra cotta floors.

In England and France, you will not see the lady of the house wash down the front stoop every day or store owners washing the sidewalk and street in front of the shop door. In Italy it is a common occurrence.

It is true that Italians are litterers and frequently fail to clean up after their dogs, which infuriates the Americans and the British, but not the French. Outside a radius of a couple of meters from their street door, Italians know that the world is a filthy place and there is nothing much they can do about it.

Italian Ceramic Tiles
Italian Ceramic Tiles

In the Italian home, however, with a ban on outside shoes, the use of pantofole (slippers) and no wall-to-wall carpets, the environment is dust and germ free.

Italian Food Rules: The BookItalian Life Rules (the book) is coming in Summer 2014. Italian Food Rules by Ann Reavis is available now. You can buy Italian Food Rules by using these links:

Amazon. com (U.S.) eBook for Kindle & Kindle Apps

Amazon. com (U.S.) paperback

Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)

Amazon.it (Italy)

Amazon.de (Germany)

Amazon.fr (France)

Barnes & Noble (U.S.) eBook for Nook