December 1, 2007

Let the holidays begin!

Last week I attended one of the events at the
San Lorenzo Market in Florence,
which closed the season on this new initiative,
opening the market for dinner parties at night.

It was a little too cold, inside the market at night
but the warm broth with tortellini was perfect to warm the atmosphere.
We started with a cheese fonduta with truffles
followed by the broth with tortellini

then a boiled beef dinner, of about 6 different cuts of meat,
with sauces and pickled vegetables
ending with Tiramisu!

Needless to say wine flowed and live music kept us in the party mood.
Since this is my husbands favorite Christmas meal, it opened the season for us.

Here's to the next series of dinners in 2008!

Let me know if you want to come.

The best part was a painting I bought

Here it is with a fabulous statue of Botticelli's Venus.
It is the view from my window a perfect gift to myself.

Merry Christmas to me.

Here in Italy December 8th is the opening of the holiday season.
The Immaculate Conception.

It is usually a long weekend as it is a national holiday.
As time goes on, and Italy is now becoming more and more like America,
Walking downtown in most large cities is the same anywhere.

Gucci, Pucci, Louis Vuitton and off the main drag
Footlocker, Disney Store and Blockbuster.

Yes, Mc Donalds is here too, can Starbucks be far behind?

But my favorite shopping is not downtown,
I wait for small fairs in villages celebrating anything!

Today in Colle Val d'Elsa not far from where I live in Certaldo
I read in the paper about a mercatino ( usually small flea market) for the holidays
and a Chocolate Fair!
OK.... Love chocolate, love flea markets, I am there.

Well, thank goodness it wasn't so far away.
The mercatino was a few stands of crafts for the holidays
and never mind the chocolate, again a few stands of small more commercial producers
riding on the shirt tails of those who have given chocolate a good name here in Italy.

The best was the small nativity show under the loggia of the main square
which is being torn up right now.

It was a lovely example of the way a family sets up the creche scenes.
Most include the whole village.

including the pizza maker.

Although not traditional, I loved this as an art piece
and will make one of my own.

There were some cute products, but nothing I needed, until I saw


Now that is my kind of gift!
Since Kate and I did our presentation on Saints Preserve Us
for IACP in Seattle
and we worked on our Pig blog
I have been inspired to keep on researching fabulous farms raising their own pigs.

Here is Tuscany we have the Cinta Senese, like a saddleback, raised outdoors
eating chestnuts acorns and the meat is absolutely the BEST, including the fat.

So now I have another great connection for prosciutto and all the other products.
We especially loved the aged arista she had, which I had not seen before here.
The cut is the same as for roast pork, but aged like prosciutto, it melted in my mouth
and with the peppery finish, was perfect with wine.

This is when you love the unsalted Tuscan bread, to balance of the salami's.

The simple things is life are the best.

I wish you the BEST for 2008.


  1. I love the photos of the miniature village. I'm wishing you a very Merry Christmas in case I forget to do it later :) I loved this post. Thanks.

  2. The simple things in life ARE the best! I dream of Christmas in Italy in the small villages and I imagine those small festivals are just utterly magical. What an amazing time of year to be there. You are livin' la dolce vita!

  3. I loved your photos and hearing about the Christmas customs there. I also love, love Botticelli's Venus...may she be the standard for all women! ;)

    Happy Holidays~

  4. Yes, indeed, the simplest things in life are that salami, or that zuppa di tortellini! Those photos make me want to be there. Thanks for sharing the cheer.

  5. Its funny you say commercial areas of Italy are looking a bit like America now. Its the same thing here in Australia. Most towns and cities here are now dominated by big name chain stores (most of them American). Seen one place, seen them all basically. Its sad that small businesses have been taken over by these big companies, especially when those smaller operated businesses added a certain charm to individual places. X

  6. CMilito5:38 AM

    I enjoy your blog!

    I am getting married in Certaldo in October of this coming year (I am an American citizen). I was wondering if you were familiar with any restaurants in the town that are good for a group dinner and are an excellent representation of Tuscan cuisine.

    Thank you for any help, you may email me at