Lake Como or Amalfi Coast?

A short question I was recently asked by one of my closest friends, “which do you suggest for us: Lake Como or the Amalfi Coast?” Although seemingly straightforward, for me, a proper answer requires some weighing of options and preferences. The differences in the regions are too varied to just pick without a bit of…

Can’t Resist a Libreria

In the Piazza del Duomo of Florence the main attraction is Santa Maria del Fiore, the city’s iconic red-domed cathedral. (If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the green and white marble of the church reflected in the shop window.) If you are a lover of books and the Italian language,…

A Historically Proud City

I keep expecting to tire of reading about Renaissance Florence, but thus far, that hasn’t happened. After writing my recent post on Renaissance reads, I was inspired to start the biography Leonardo: The Artist and the Man by Serge Bramly. Just a couple of chapters in, Bramly sets the stage of Florence at the time when…

Sunshine, Shadows, Lemon Trees, Medici

The peaceful garden of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, in the golden light of a perfect fall day in Florence. Five quick facts about the palazzo: 1. The palazzo was commissioned by Cosimo the Elder — founder of the Medici bank and the patriarch of the political dynasty — in 1444. 2. An early design by…

5 Romantic Italian Phrases

One of the beauties of Italian is that it is a very specific language. I would say I love that, but that would be very un-Italian indeed. For example, there are different words to indicate playing a sport (giocare) versus playing an instrument (suonare). Or for painting a wall (tinteggiare) versus creating something with paint —  like…

Florence’s Other Dome: The Basilica of San Lorenzo’s Medici Chapels

If this shot above were wider, then just a bit to the right you would see Florence’s iconic Duomo, capping the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Pictured here, however, a very similar-in-“miniature” dome graces the Cappella dei Principi (Chapel of the Princes), one of two structures comprising the Medici Chapels in the complex of the…