Burnt to a Crisp – New Year in Florence is a Wash Out

The tourists and the Florentines always hope that the New Year will come in with a bang. For 2010 it came in with a wet whimper.

The 2010 fireworks were rained out.

To celebrate the end of 2009, the new mayor, who made a splash with the grand pedestrian zone around the Duomo (wrecking havoc with the bus system), wanted to have four concerts at various venues, including one that started at the train station in Bologna and then taking the 37 minute trip on the new Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) high speed train to Florence for the second half of … Read More

Burnt to a Crisp – or not – No more traffic around the Duomo

SUNDAY (October 25, 2009) Dante was worn out after all of the “A Passo Duomo” celebration around the cathedral.

The new mayor of Florence had decreed that the entire piazza surrounding the Duomo would become a pedestrian mall instead of a busy thoroughfare where over 500 buses and thousands of taxis round the Duomo every day. To mark the renaissance of the city center, the mayor threw a party.

There were balloons and hot chestnuts and free entrance to the Baptistry.

Notable figures from history – Dante, Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci – made an appearance and wandered the … Read More

Burnt to a Crisp – Grasping at Straws or Salemi

As Italy is sucked into the worldwide economic crisis, and the general attitude in the streets of Florence is that of cynical pessimism, it is refreshing to see a write-up in the NY Times about the small Sicilian town of Salemi that gave artists and intellectuals power to remake the historic center of the town that had been largely abandoned after a devastating earthquake.

Salemi sold destroyed ancient buildings for one euro to those who guaranteed to restore the structures within two years. The aldermen focused on art and culture to bring visitors to the off-the-beaten-track village.  And now Salemi … Read More

Burnt to a Crisp – Outlaws on a Bench

Unwary tourists risk getting hefty fines in some Italian cities and villages for doing things that are perfectly legal everywhere in the world.

At Eraclea, near Venice, The Independent of London rightly reports, “parents need to keep a beady eye on their children: sandcastles are banned, as they ‘obstruct the passage’ along the beach.”

“Two people may sit down on a park bench in the city of Novara [Piedmont], but if a third person joins them and it’s after 11pm, all three are breaking the law. In Viareggio, the benches may contain as many people as care to squeeze on … Read More