April 06, 2004
florence trip ~ 6 april 2004

I should probably take some time to describe the Villa Bobolino. It was built around 1880, with the typical villa configuration; three stories, French doors opening out onto upper floor terraces. The owner is a Dutch woman that I haven't had a chance to meet yet. She bought the villa a few years ago and had it remodeled recently. It's a bit fanciful--modern Chronicles of Narnia, but has some nice Phillipe Starck pieces. It's been featured in some Dutch magazines and is nicer than some of the ponderous antique filled places we saw in the catalogs when deciding on a villa. With the French doors unshuttered it's airy and quite, yes, romantic. Pictures soon.

This morning we arose early-ish only to find that my father had blown the villa's fuses with his 110V hairdryer. He said that it practically melted in his hand. This required an emergency consultation with Messr De Looze, our landlord and was expeditiously remedied. We then set off for the Mercato Centrale. The main food market for Florence just northeast of the Piazza San Lorenzo. The market is housed in an enclosure and is filled with a variety of butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers. The pictures below give a sense of the variety of alimentari sold there. Particularly interesting is an Italian delicacy known as the Dirty Bird. It is also known by its Latin name as Foulus fowlus. While one would think this bird to be very rare, it is actually quite common. For instance part of its North American range is known to be a stretch of 70 in Raleigh between Brier Creek and Crabtree Valley Mall. Many Dirty Birds may be found squawking about a certain parking lot in the evening hours. The best way to prepare a Dirty Bird is to flatten him under a brick and grill him ( Pollo Squalore Griglio).

At the Mercato Centrale: Fish, Beef "Ahem" Oysters, Infused Oils, Strawberries, Octopus, A particularly colorful Fruitstand, Vegetables, Dried Mushrooms, and Olives
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Addendum, 7 April 2004
After resting in the early afternoon we ventured out again to Via de´Tornabuoni where royalty such as Salvatore Ferragamo (among the snottiest salespeople I've ever encountered, but really nice leathergoods and those classic Ferragamo ties), to Gucci jewelery (an extremely friendly and courteous young lady there), to Prada (where the sales staff were kept extremely busy by the constant flow of customers--including my sister and myself for sunglasses), to Pucci (a Florence native, my sister coveted a short short skirt that was labeled at 1700 Euros), to Giorgio Armani (where my father chatted with a Swedish saleswoman, trying to guess her nationality, who admitted that she wasn't the usual towering height of her fellow countrymen), to Gucci clothing (where I contemplated Tom Ford's last collection for them and the fact that I could never get away with tight-fitting Western inspired shirts and boots).

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In the evening, we prepared dinner with our market purchases. Soon the house was suffused with the aroma of olive oil, basil, sauteed shallots with which my mother prepares her mussels. To start with we had carciofi or artichokes dipped in lemon butter, followed by the mussels, and then spaghetti with vongole little clams that you don't find very often in the US. The artichokes and mussels struck me as being more tender than their American counterparts. The mussels were also meatier.


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