Strolling Mona Lisa’s Florence

This time last year I found myself waking up in Florence — strange for a Southern California resident — the chimes of the Duomo’s bells drifting through my open window. For me, every morning in Italy feels full of opportunity and ripe with undiscovered memories. But this particular morning promised a once-in-a-lifetime gift. On a whim,…

If Doors Could Talk

Florence, Italy, on shadowed, smelly and eerily silent Via Squazza: Not a spot frequented by tourists, and, in fact, my tiny tour group makes up the only people on this narrow street. But if this door could talk, it would tell you that it was the first home to Lisa Gherardini, born June 15, 1479….

Bottling the Renaissance

“You cannot miss the Farmacia!” urged my friend Rachel a couple of years ago in Florence. We finished our caffès and then she expertly guided me through Florence’s cobbled streets to Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. The “pharmacy”, which today is really more of a fragrance museum, still sells formulations which were popular among…

BookLove: The Dianne Hales Edition

My FAVORITE book on Italian Culture, La Bella Lingua by Dianne Hales, has been named Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in Travel, Italy. To celebrate, I’m re-posting my book review here, which first ran in December 2014. Auguri, Dianne!

BookLove: The Dianne Hales Edition

       It’s no secret to readers of this blog that Dianne Hales is my favorite author on all things Italian, and these two books are at the top of my BookLove list. And I’m not alone — Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, has recently been named one of Amazon’s “Best Books of the…