Spritz Life



Buongiorno tutti!  Here’s a typical working morning in Firenze.  Me, on my high tech equipment writing you and Giovanni-the younger and Matteo the AC tech working away.  I’d love for you to hear the dialogue, but I thought taking this pic was weird enough.

But-a things-a are-a good-a.  Matteo diagnosed the issue and fixed it straight away.  There is a part they ordered, but it is not necessary for it to run…So…we are up and running with the Original, Original unit.  Whoooo-hoooo!

Now for some pranzo.

One of my favorite dishes here in Firenze is pappa al pomodoro.  This is a hearty soup(ish) made with tomatoes cooked with left-over bread.  I first had it a Trattoria Katti in 2013.  I’ve also made it at home with the tomatoes from Blaine’s garden.  It is kind of an odd thing to crave…a thick, hot soup in the summer, but here in Italy, it is all about using what is fresh…except the bread.

My friend Sandy had forwarded me a post by TooMuchTuscany, “24 Culinary Things to do in Florence” and as fortuna would have it, pappa al pomodoro made the list.   It says the best place to enjoy this is at the historic Trattoria I’ Raddi.  Again, fortuna is on my side…via dell’Ardiglione 47 is just around the corner.  Andiamo!


When I arrive at I’ Raddi, I am reminded of the other little Oltroarno trattoria I ate at in 2015.  It too was recommended as a spot where locals eat.

“Tavolo per una per favore.”  I am seated right away and asked if I would like acqua.  “Frizzante per favore.”  I love, love the water bottles they bring to you.  They are often unique to each trattoria and this one is a cutie.

I don’t really even look at the menu as I know exactly what I am here for.  But then I decide to see if melone e prosciutto is in casa, but I do not see it.  I decide to order with authority.  “Per favore posso avere papa al pomodoro e melone e prosciutto.” His writing stops, he looks at me, holds up a hand, backs into the kitchen, returns with a “si” and continues jotting it all down.


The pappa was perfetto.  And when I asked for olio e pepe, the melone e prosciutto may have been the best I’ve ever had.  I love that this was not on the day’s menu, but the cook made this lovely piatto just for me.


When I brought my conto up to the counter, the little guy at the register, kept flipping through the day’s menu and shaking his head, trying to tell me that melone e prosciutto was not on the menu and he had no price.  I guess he just had to make it up.  Order with authority…that’s me.

A couple of months ago, I bought the book “An Art Lover’s Guide to Florence” by Judith Testa.  I like the format.  You can jump around to whatever interests you.  Today, it is the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria deal Carmine….and again, it’s right around the corner.

As she mentions in the book, the unknowing visitor would most likely walk right past this unassuming monastic church.  “But if they do, they’ll miss one of the city’s greatest treasures: the spot where Renaissance painting was born.”

Sharing my love of Art History with my students is a highlight of my job.  Often, my Art I students are nun to thrilled to learn that every Monday, instead of doing “studio art” we explore Art History.  However, the change comes usually around Egypt, by Ancient Rome, I’d say 97 percent are hooked.  And when I can give accounts of me actually seeing a specific piece, they love it even more.

During our study of the Early Renaissance, we look at and discuss Masaccios’s work and specifically “Tribute Money”.image

My favorite aspect of this fresco is there are several stories/events begin told in one continuous work. Masaccio keeps our eye on the main player, Saint Peter, by clothing him in the same colors (orange and blue…complementary colors) in each episode.

On the left you see Masolino’s Temptation of Adam and Eve and on the right Masaccios’s Expulsion of Adam and Even from Paradise.  Listening to the audio guide (which I ALWAYS recommend) brought my attention to the rendering of the forms in each.  One right before the worst mistake ever is made and one when the realization of consequence hits.  Looking at Masaccio’s two is heart wrenching.

Another small, yet important detail in many of the frescoes in the chapel, is that the artists considered the actual light source coming from the chapel windows in their paintings.  The shadows cast are where they would fall if these forms were to come to life within the chapel walls.

Then I had a surprise visit by none other than Emperor Nero.

imageAfter our study of Ancient Rome when I ask my students their favorite POI (Point of Interest), I’d say at least half have to do with this guy.  If you are at all interested in the Emperors of Ancient Rome, I suggest watching “Rome- Engineering an Empire”. I watch it two times each school year never tiring of it, always learning something new.

After being inside for a bit, I decide to once again, aimlessly roam.


I know I have shared something similar with you before, so “same song, different verse”.

I was actually roaming the side streets of the Duomo looking for a children’s toy store I like.  I need a city map and seem to remember they had some unique ones.  Now if I could only find a map of how to get to this store.  No fortuna today.

But I did find myself in front of San Marco and just in time for mass.   Visiting a chiesa is a beautiful experience, but attending mass takes it to a whole new level.

There were about dieci, what I assume to be locals, in the front so I join them a few rows back.


The above photo was taken after mass when the presiding priest had removed his toupee but not his amazingly stylish glasses, donned his newsboy cap and sat at the organ playing as the cinque or so parishioners remaining held concert.  Again, this moments are priceless!


One of the books I recently read highlighting the Medicis was, “Death in Florence- Medici, Savonarola and the Battle for the Soul of the Renaissance City” by Derek Perkins was a favorite.  I am conflicted by this Dominican friar’s agenda.  Was it God’s or was it his?  I guess this question is true for anyone’s agenda.  I’ve done a tiny bit of research to see what the Church currently thinks of Girolamo Savonarola.

San Marco was the home from 1489 onwards of this friar.  He became the prior of the convent and unleashed a campaign against the Florentines’ lavish way of life.  Of course he was on the wrong side of the Medicis (even though Lorenzo the Magnificent called Savonarola to his side while on his death bed) as well as Pope Alexander VI Borgia.  With enemies like these, Savonarola was burnt at the stake in front of Palazzo Della Signoria in 1498.

It is said that Michelangelo could still recall Savonarola’s voice in his head as an old man.  Powerful stuff!!

When I exit the Chiesa, I walk across the piazza to Pugi.   Although I have enjoyed their fare before, it is number dieci on TooMuchTuscany’s culinary list, so I think perche no?  Schiacciata all’olio is a salty bread made with Tuscan extra virgin olive oil.  Due Della mie cose preferite…salty and crunchy.


If you ever question your direction…look for a sign…


Back Oltrorno, I am on a quest for my first Spriz of the trip.  Remember earlier when I bragged that I “order with authority”?  Not all that true..  I have been wanting to lead the Spritz Life for several days now, but have found by the time I am ready for one, all the seats are taken.  Previously, I head out with resolution and settle for a class of wine at an enoteca that does not serve the Spritz.  I am sure you are rolling your eyes at this conundrum…it’s not a terrible spot to be in, but tonight…I am determinato.

My neighborhood chiesa is packed with locals and tourist alike, enjoying pizza from a nearby pizzeria.  Later I text Avery this photo and say when she visits we will do the same.  Her response, “Duh!”


At the corner of piazza Santo Spirito, I see an empty table and I grab.

“Una Spritz per favore.” “Chips-a?”  “Si, grazie.”



Buona Notte!





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