Italian Life Rules – The Anarchy of Shutters

One sunny autumn day Francesca and I were walking through a narrow medieval street downstream from the Ponte Vecchio.

“Anarchy,” said Francesca, “I like it.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Look up there,” she said, pointing to the top floor of a medieval building in the center of Florence.

“I don’t see anything anarchical.”

“The shutters. They are turquoise.” Francesca pointed at a pair of small shutters on one window on the top floor where a noble family’s servants once lived.

Sure enough they were a light blue-green — different from every other shutter in Florence. This is absolutely illegal … Read More

Italian Life Rules – The Dreaded Draft or a Blast of Air

In no other part of the world is the air as dangerous as it is in Italy. Not because of pollution, although cities like Florence have some of the most polluted air in Europe, but because of the air itself — throughout the country — inside and outside. In fact, it seems to be more risky inside than out. And air conditioned air is the worst of all.

Tell an Italian that you have any of the following symptoms: headache, sore throat, indigestion, chest pain, toothache, earache, stiff neck; and the diagnosis will be the same — you have been … Read More

Italian Food Rule – Don’t Touch the Fruits and Vegetables

What is it about the fruit and vegetable stands found in markets and along the streets of every town and city in Italy that make foreigners want to fondle the merchandise?

Italian Food Rule: Don’t Touch The Fruits And Vegetables.

In the US everyone feels free to poke, prod, squeeze, thump and sniff the fruits and vegetables whether they plan to buy anything or not. At a produce stand in Italy that will garner you a withering look and a command to unhand the eggplant: Non tocchi le melanzane, per favore!

One of the pleasures of Italy is the taste … Read More

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


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 … Read More