Alexandra Lawrence is an expert on the language and art of Italy. Based in Florence, she is a lecturer of literature, art history and contemporary Italian cultural studies. Alexandra is currently offering a six-week guided reading of Dante’s Divine Comedy, in addition to other Dante-related courses, which you can learn more about at www.formasideris.it.
T.S. Eliot famously said, “Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third.” While Dante is still rigorously read in Italian schools, most English-speaking countries limit themselves to a ...
Florence is a city of stone, of imposing civic, religious and domestic architecture—where power and wealth are communicated in girth and in height. Massiccio—solid, hefty—is the adjective used to describe ...
In 1455, Isidero del Sera was elected to lead the community of Vallombrosan monks at the 11th-century Badia di Passignano, near Florence. Intent on continuing the renovation begun by his ...
Porpo: Octopus (‘polpo’ in standard Italian). Example: ‘Che s’ha preparare un po’ di porpo pe’ antipasto?’ (‘Should we make a little octopus for an antipasto?’) Un gni parea ivvero: He could not believe it. Example: ‘
Tronata, Va' ia, Covaccino Your in-progress dictionary of the Florentine dialect by Francesco Stefanelli + Alexandra Lawrence Tronata: A hard fall. Example: ‘Maremma, che tronata ho battuto con la bicicletta!’ (‘Damn, I took a hard fall on my bike!’) Va’ ia:
When evening has come, I return to my house and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, covered with mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garments; and decently reclothed, I enter the ancient courts of
Betty Soldi’s mother was sure of one thing: her little girls were not going into the family business of making fireworks. Not just any old family company, the Pirotecnica Soldi had been producing handmade fireworks since 1869, even the display for the Scoppio del Carro, Florence’s
Appestato: Intensifier used to indicate something that is highly exaggerated Example: ‘L’arrosto un si mangia, lè salato appestato!’ (‘The roast is inedible; it is salted to the gills!’) Lìcitte: Bathroom Example: ‘O nìni, vo&
There was a raging Twitter debate recently about the magnetizing force of the Impressionists: can there be too much of a good thing? Does the world really need another Impressionists exhibition? Though an affirmative case for both could certainly be made, it seems that the collective interest in the most
Entering the Tribune in the 1580s, visitors must have felt as if they had been dropped into a giant treasure chest that had opened suddenly and surprisingly just for their benefit. The sumptuous octagonal room located in the Uffizi's eastern corridor was topped by a cupola with golden ribs
‘Briaco come un tegolo: Literally, as drunk as a roof tile (which gets soaking in the rain!). In American English, to be drunk as a skunk. Example: ‘Ieri sera ...
Discreto: Adjective to describe a good-looking person. Example: ‘Certo che i' su ragazzo lè proprio discreto! Beata lei!' (‘Her boyfriend sure is good looking! Lucky girl!') Biscotto della salute: Literally, ‘health biscuit.' This is what Florentines call the ubiquitous fetta biscottata, most
Financial industry woes. Credit crisis. Doomsday prophesies. Sound familiar? While some of the elements may seem straight out of today's newspapers (or iPad apps, as the case may be), the exhibit Money and Beauty: Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities now at Palazzo Strozzi takes us back
A stecchetto: To be on a diet. Example: ‘La su' moglie lo tiene a stecchetto perchè cià i' colesterolo a mille!'(‘His wife keeps him on a diet because his cholesterol is through the roof!') Dindi: Money. This word is usually used with
There is no way to sugarcoat this: Staying in the city with bambini during the scorching summer months of July and August ain't easy. It's hot. School's out. Even summer camp goes on vacation. Your friends and neighbors are at the beach. But fear not-all it
Tritello: Mess, confusion. Example: ‘Guarda quanto c’ho messo ad arrivare! C’era un tritello di macchine su’ viali!’ (‘Look how long it took me to get here! There was ...
Carnaio: Jam-packed. Example: ‘Sieee! Un ci vengo a mangiare li! Le un carnaio, un si riesce nemmeno a trovare un post a sedere!' (‘Yeah, right! I'm not going to eat there! It's jam-packed. We can never get a seat!') Le grassa: To be
I am about to give you the recipe for a perfect family Saturday afternoon in Florence. Grab the car, saddle up the motorino or hop on the number 10 bus and get yourself to the Tree Experience Parco Avventura di Vincigliata in Fiesole because this place rocks. A mix
A tutta randa: To go extremely fast. Example: ‘Lè arrivato a tutta randa, manca poco entra in ufficio con la macchina!' (‘She came in so fast I thought she was going to run her car right into the office!') Mòta: Mud.
Raise your hand if you are bone-tired of winter. If you cannot fathom another rainy Saturday inside your microscopic living room as your toddler does speed laps, pausing every now and again to paw at the front door and throw you a stern ?get me out of here' look. &
Sgamare: To avoid an annoying chore for which you are unprepared. Example: ‘Meno male che ho sgamato la riunione!’(‘Good thing I got out of that meeting!’) Sgamotto: ...
Wondering how to celebrate Christmas and entertain the babies while school's out and the holidays are upon us? Luckily, Florence is positively overflowing with Christmas cheer. So much so that I've compiled my top 10 for making the holidays as fun and easy as possible. 1. Capture