Monthly Archives: June 2010

Books, Books, Books – Secrets of My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts

Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen
Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen


JUDY WITTS has published the 2,000th copy of her new cookbook SECRETS FROM MY TUSCAN KITCHEN.

To celebrate 25 years in Italy, Judy Witts Francini of Divina Cucina self-published the collection of recipes she used for the past 20 years at her cooking school in Florence and wrote about in her blog Over a Tuscan Stove.

The cookbook started out as a handwritten, spiral-bound, photocopied edition that she gave to her students.

In 2008, she took the time to recreate it as a more permanent collection and developed a blog to go with it.

There are almost one hundred of Judy’s favorite recipes, perfected in her classes and her home kitchen, in the pages of Secets From My Tuscan Kitchen .

To order an autographed copy, you can use the link online.

Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen is available also at these Tuscan bookstores, vendors and restaurants:



Paperback Exchange– Via delle Oche 4r.  Paperback Exchange is also Tuscan Traveler’s favorite bookshop in Florence.

In the Central Market at Conti, the Conti family stand for olive oil, fruits,vegetables, balsamic vinegar, and more.

Judy's food photos ready for her next book
Judy’s food photos ready for her next book

Near the market at Casa del Vino, a wine bar that specializes in small select wineries.

Osteria Pepo on Via Rosina

Uffizi Gallery Bookshop

Panzano in Chianti:

Enoteca Baldi in the main piazza, specializing in wine from the Chianti Classico region


Siena at:

BookShop Siena,  Pian dei Mantellini, 34

Liberia Senese, Via della Citta’ 62/66

What might Judy be up to NEXT????


Italian Food Rules by Ann Reavis is available now. You can buy Italian Food Rules by using these links:

Italian Food Rules: The Book

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

Amazon. com (U.S.) paperback (United Kingdom) (Italy) (Germany) (France)

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

Burnt to a Crisp – Graffiti Redux

The mayor says he’s going to fix it, but he doesn’t seem to have time while he’s throwing White Night festivities and Blue Night parties and stopping the bus system in its track by creating the fabulous pedestrian zone around the Duomo. He’s having equal trouble with potholes. But potholes and graffiti aren’t sexy and aren’t likely to disappear. So I will stay Burnt To A Crisp about the graffiti destroying Florence.

OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY & Duke of Urbino
OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY & Duke of Urbino

The mayor granted a permit to OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY –maybe to glam up graffiti. But it was for only for one day and now the artwork has been vandalized.

OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY on Banco Toscano
OPEN YOUR EYES TO comics DAY on Banca Toscana

Florence has a long history of graffiti. But the graffiti of the 16th century  now peeks out from behind the graffiti of today.

16th century graffiti meets 2010 graffiti
16th century graffiti meets 2010 graffiti

Scrawls flank my front door.

Burnt to a Crisp about my doorway
Burnt to a Crisp about my doorway

The most famous ugly graffiti in Italy is in Verona – along the wall to the fake balcony of Shakespeare’s fantasy Juliet.

Mess in the name of Love
Mess in the name of Love

Most of the graffiti in Florence is attributed to teenaged dweebs. Gangs aren’t tagging boundaries inside the historic center. English proficiency isn’t common, which doesn’t necessarily let the thousands of American students off the hook. Italian is the language of choice for these vandals.

Madonna in tabernacle looks down on scrawled walls
Madonna in tabernacle looks down on scrawled walls

But not always … In 2008, a Japanese television crew filming on top of the Duomo caught some familiar scribbles and broadcast them. Unlike the justice system of Florence or, in fact, anywhere in Italy, the Japanese found in this a moment of national shame and came down hard on a high school teacher for expressing his love in ink on a wall.

A 19-year-old fashion student from Japan’s Gifu University was caught in another incident.  She offered 600 euros ($950 in 2008) to repair the damage.

“We accept the apologies (and) we accept the money exceptionally for the gesture’s great sense of civility,” said the Duomo’s chief curator Anna Mitrano, flanked by the university’s visiting rector, Yukitoshi Matsuda.

Except for Ms. Mitrano, Italians have expressed shock and amusement over Japan’s attitude. Perhaps a little more shame and pride and a little less official complacency and public cynicism would help bring Florence’s center back to its historic beauty.