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How is your summer doing? Well mine could not have been better nad busier. Some traveling and a lot of sun...nothing wrong with that. Only complain about the time that is flying by.
Why do I look so serious in the pciture above? Well that happens when your mum ambush you with her camera!!
This month’s newsletter is all about food and staying outdoors to make the most of the last month of summer. Did you know that green urban areas hold up to 5 times less heat than inner city areas filled with buildings?
This is why I’d suggest heading to one of Florence’s many parks, like the Cascine or the Villa Strozzi garden, with a blanket, a hamper and a couple of friends to sit under some shady trees to wile away these long August days.
If you’ve never been before, Fiesole is well worth a visit. The small town above Florence is elevated on a hillside and often has temperatures slightly lower than the city. There’s a roman amphitheatre and a pleasant main square that’s perfect for exploring before grabbing a caffé and watching the world go by.
The Museo Stibbert is another urban getaway that offers a tranquil haven far from the dust and traffic of the city. The museum is surrounded by picturesque gardens and houses an intriguing collection of artefacts from lands far far away.
Now, August is a peculiar month in the Italian calendar. Strangely, at least for those from more temperate climes, most offices and businesses close for a period of time that can be anything from a few days to the whole month. So, what to do?
Well, on August 11 the Uffizi is offering free-entry. The Bernini, Botticelli and Michelangelo you’ve been dying to see on your last visits but never seem to find the time for before your catch-up aperitivo with a friend you met years ago while studying abroad?
Well, now you have the ideal excuse to spend the whole day strolling the Uffizi’s halls, searching for those artworks that have, up until now, evaded you.
What about "Ferragosto"? The word ferragosto comes from "ferie d’agosto" or August holidays, and it’s one of the most important holidays in the Italian calendar not only because it structures people’s summer, try and go to the beach in the central week of August and paying €40 for an umbrella will not be out of the ordinary, but because it means people getting together and, that’s right, EATING!
On August 15 every year the "Pranzo di Ferragosto" becomes a family affair that takes place in a garden or by the sea and involves copious amounts of fresh summer food followed by general food-coma states of being until August 16 rolls around.
Unfortunately, not everybody has family around midsummer, especially if you’re here on vacation, but don’t fret there’s plenty to do with your immediate family or even on your own! There’s plenty of "Sagre", think a big outdoor food fair with everyone sharing tables and chowing down on pasta, wild boar and at times even truffle.
Borgo San Lorenzo is a cute village just outside of Florence that hosts many Sagre, a particularly tasty one is the wild boar sagra, taking place on August 15 at 7pm at the Campo Sportivo di Grezzano… yummy!
Many museums are also open on Ferragosto and with most Italians lunching in the countryside or at the beach, you might even experience less crowds and an overall quieter visitor experience. Head over to the Accademia and send a midsummer’s greeting to David or to palazzo Pitti to stroll through the Boboli gardens.
Most people do head to the seaside, so maybe catch a train to Livorno, there’s plenty of beaches accessible by public transport!
Another way to make the most of these long summer days is to journey out to the rolling Tuscan hills on two wheels. Luckily there’s loads of companies in Florence offering Vespa tours where a guide will lead you around some of the most beautiful areas, like Chianti to the south of the city.
Did you know that Chianti wine was actually white until 1398? It didn’t become red until the Antinori family, one of Italy’s oldest wine producers, started producing it. Perhaps you can stop off along the way for a tasting, obviously taking care to just have a few sips!
August is a beautiful month in Florence and Tuscany if you have the right things to do… remember to get out into nature and, most importantly, relax! After all, that’s what the Italians are doing.
Until next time!