Italian Life Rules – Burnt to a Crisp by Lo Sciopero

As the tourist season starts in Italy, the savvy visitor knows to keep in mind that one of the Italian national pastimes is to go on strike. Some years see more of lo sciopero than others, but in these difficult economic and political times in Italy it is certain that 2014 is predicted to be a year of delays and inconvenience.

Just last month, I was on my way to France via trains from Florence to Milan and Milan to Lyon. The day of my travels, the Italian national railways went on strike for eight hours. Lucky for me I … Read More

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)).

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.

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 Read More

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – More Museum Card News in Florence

Firenze Card vs. Amici degli Uffizi Pass Revisited

Attention:  Effective as of June 15, 2015, the Regional Secretary of the former Superintendency of the State Museums of Florence stipulated that Amici deli Uffizi members, holding valid membership and ID cards, are eligible for the free entrance and the priority pass to the Uffizi Gallery only. This severely limits the benefits of the card.

Most readers of Tuscan Traveler know that I am a great fan of the Amici degli Uffizi Pass. I like it because:

It is good for one year.

It allows me to return again and … Read More

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales: High Water in Italy

They say a combination of heavy rain, strong winds and warmer than usual temperatures have put Italy under water this week. But I know the truth. My friend – let’s call him Giorgio – arrived in Florence this week after causing that wet thing called Sandy a couple of weeks ago in his hometown of Washington, DC and his other place out in Virginia.

Now the Arno is getting to the highest level since the flood of 1966 (nobody knows where Giorgio was that November). Be warned! Giorgio plans to stay in Florence until December. He’s also scheduling a side … Read More

Dove Vai? – Predappio, the Scariest Haunted Town in Italy

We weren’t there for the celebrations, but in August the town of Predappio, Italy, seemed haunted by Benito Mussolini, all the same.

Most Italians just try to forget about it, but they have just had to face up to this tricky subject again, as October 28 is the 90th anniversary of Mussolini’s “March on Rome” (1922) that brought the Fascist leader to power and enabled him to stay there for 23 years.

For many years after the fall of fascism, Italians turned their backs on their recent history. The fascist party was banned, the history curriculum in Italian schools even … Read More

Save Time, Skip the Line, See the Duomo … and More!

I have a friend who recently visited Florence for a week with a to-do list that didn’t allow for standing in line for hours – too much to see, too little time. Unfortunately, Florence is the city of lines and, although with some planning a resident or visitor can reserve spots (for a price) in a shorter line at some of the museums, there was no way to avoid the queue at the Duomo. My friend solved her problem by signing up for a 15 euro tour of the cathedral that she didn’t want to take, but this saved her … Read More

Only Slightly Burnt to a Crisp: Florence’s Taxi Service, Again

I don’t know why, but when I truly get burnt to a crisp by the often not-so-sunny life in Tuscany, I think of taxi cabs. I’ve done it before and I will do it again.

Maybe it helps me realize this too will pass.

Right now, we are waiting for the P.M. to ride off into history despite the propping up Hillary Clinton was forced by Wikileaks to do this last week.

So I cheer myself up by the realization that the taxi situation in Florence has, hopefully forever, been changed for the better by a new cooperative of all-female … Read More

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.

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 … Read More

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – Gelato, the Good, the Bad, and the Festival

I’m not a big “no-global” proponent; so if someone in, say, Vermont, is making great ice cream, I think it should be shared with the rest of the world. Therefore, when Ben & Jerry’s (full disclosure: I have eaten hundreds of pints of B&J’s in my lifetime) was scheduled to open a store in Florence that wasn’t a major issue for me.

But when that storefront is just a few feet from the façade of the Duomo and my favorite flavors (Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch and Triple Caramel Chunk,) of the Vermont ice cream have turned in to a frozen … Read More

Burnt to a Crisp – Love Padlocked to the Ponte Vecchio

In these hard economic times, the best business to have is the guy selling padlocks at the little cart on the Ponte Vecchio. It’s a return business that beats all others in Florence.

Locks of love, or lucchetti dell’amore, are the padlocks fixed by loving couples on to part of the Ponte Vecchio, usually to the fence around the statue of Cellini located in the center of the bridge, to symbolize their eternal love. The symbol is further enhanced by the fact that the bridge unites two sides of the city (unites/joins/attaches/holds together – get it?). The enamored twosome … Read More