Happy 4th of July!!!
A new year and a new hope for everyone. I spent the last 3 weeks in Florence (well I also went to the beachside in Forte dei Marmi) and I cannot tell you how wonderful was to see my parents after 20 long months and see our kids happy to be back home....well I will skip the part where I enjoyed the food so much!! We missed only Giulio that stayed behind in US making sure the new Atelier in Woodbury and the one in the Hamptons were going to be opened on time.
Florence is experiencing a heatwave as I write this, as is most of Italy.
There's good news too, as mask-wearing is no longer required outdoors as of June 28 given the current low numbers of infection and the rapid vaccine roll-out. Tuscany is now officially a 'White Zone' too, meaning it has the lowest restrictions and the curfew has been lifted.
Locals are flocking to the Lungarno to avail of the "Fresco" (fresh air), and food kiosks have popped up all along the banks of the River Arno to provide refreshments.
This is the epitome of summertime in the Renaissance city for me, enjoying a post-dinner stroll by the river, catching a breathtaking sunset by the Ponte Vecchio, and seeing what I’ll find just around the corner, whether it will be an open-air cinema or a live performance.
One thing is for sure, this city is never short of surprises!
Florence is a hive of activity as every cultural spot has come out strong this summer with impressive line-ups across the board. One event I have marked on my calendar is the Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Italy’s self-portrait at the mirror exhibition at Forte di Belvedere.
Historically the site of world-renowned exhibitions, every show at this picturesque location is worth checking out. This time, it hosts two large photographic displays, one titled Italiae: from Alinari to the masters of contemporary photography, and the other features works by Massimo Vitali, titled Pienovuoto.
Both celebrate Italy in all its forms and it feels like the perfect choice for this moment as we see the city gradually re-emerge.
Outdoor cinema is always a big hit during the hottest months of the year. It’s incredibly alluring to sit in some spectacular surrounding in the cool of the evening and enjoy the chatter of the crowd before a giant screen shows a classic or innovative new release.
As well as the ever-popular Apriti Cinema at Piazzale degli Uffizi, this year we can also head to the cloister of the Museo Novecento as well as Manifattura Tabacchi to enjoy some cinema under the stars.
Listening to music in architecturally fascinating spots is also a joy in these summer months, and Estate Fiesolana always has unforgettable performances in the ancient Roman theatre up in the hills. It’s worth heading up there to escape the heat, as well as to enjoy the stunning shows!
As sights and sounds surround us this summer, I got thinking about Florence’s long legacy of musical excellence. Did you know that opera was invented in Florence, in the late 16th century?
Almost 400 years ago, a group of musicians, artists, writers and statesmen known as the Florentine Camerata came up with the idea of retelling Greek drama through music, and so the dramatic form came to be.
Not only that, but Florence is also said to be the birthplace of the Piano, invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori in the 18th century. Where better then, to catch a concert!
Now let us move to the serious topics....Tuscan cooking in July is a joy as fresh tomatoes abound! There’s nothing quite like the taste of a juicy tomato just off the vine, and there are simply endless ways to enjoy them.
Of course, one of the easiest ways is by making "Bruschetta": just pop them on thick slices of Tuscan bread, with a generous dose of extra virgin olive oil and a little bit of salt, basil and garlic to bring out the flavors.
Another typical Tuscan recipe you might like to try this July is "Panzanella". It’s actually a cold bread salad but oh so much more delicious than it might sound!
Coming from the Italian for Pane (bread) and an old word for Zanella (bowl), it’s made with almost all the same ingredients as bruschetta, with the addition of stale bread, red onions and vinegar, before being tossed together as a salad.
With that, I’m off to source as many tomatoes as I can find!
Have a wonderful July and see you soon in the Hampton Atelier.