Author: Mary Gray

Mary Gray is a freelance writer, reporter, and the former events editor of The Florentine. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Forbes Travel Guide, Time Out and Dream of Italy, and she teaches travel writing and fashion media for university programs in Florence. Her M.A. is in Italian from Middlebury and her straniera stripes are from the school of life.
March 17, 2020

Poem: If you give a girl a chickpea

If you give a girl a chickpea when she’s barely boiled an egg, do not be quick to doubt her, for you’ve gone and upped her leg.     Sorana or Corona fans will mock this, call it shtick, but no pantry is pieno sans the sacred pea of chick.     Cheap at Conad, […]
March 1, 2020

Rental Diaries, vol. 29

“I’m going to have to zoom in on your face and on the food, Mary,” said my cameraman colleague during a recent filming session in my kitchen. We were shooting a low-budget video about low-budget pantry staples geared at Gen-Z students in Florence.     “It’s just that you don’t have very pretty cabinets, so […]
February 25, 2020

Rental Diaries, vol.28

I was three Negronis deep with my friend Valentina recently when the conversation took a familiar turn. You know the one: discussing the merits and drawbacks of the day-to-day in our adoptive country versus our native one, and how they play into our personal psychologies.      Particularly after a certain amount of time passes, […]
February 18, 2020

Quakers in Florence

It’s a sunny-but-chilly winter morning in Florence and a small group of Quakers—formally known as the Religious Society of Friends—is warming up inside Sylvia Hetzel’s apartment. The fledgling family, founded in January 2019, meets in homes on a rotating basis; Hetzel just happens to be hosting today. Still, in the Florence Friends “hierarchy”, the group […]
January 29, 2020

Rental diaries, vol.27

I don’t tend to think of Phil Dunphy and Clark Griswold, the dopey dads of Modern Family and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, respectively, as characters with whom I have much in common. But I’ve recently begun to reconsider, based on the running gags in each character’s comedy, both involving staircases.   Across his show’s 11 […]
January 3, 2020

Rental Diaries vol.26

In the past week, I’ve had a particularly dense concentration of deadlines and a growing list of ungratifying errands to be run. In the past week, I also reactivated my Netflix subscription, because the need to binge-watch Friends chronologically suddenly became urgent. I can’t imagine why.   Don’t worry. Despite the rent-centric title of this […]
November 5, 2019

Rental diaries, vol. 25

By the time this column is printed, this is likely to be old news, but file the intel away for future reference. It seems that the Bellini Gallery—that antiques-filled, Arno-facing jewel of a building—is currently on a Marie Kondo kick. I say this based on the boxes of dusty coffee table books now sitting curbside […]
October 23, 2019

Facing Fallaci

She was a talker, wasn’t she? Flannery O’Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
October 14, 2019

Rental diaries, vol. 24

At the start of our senior year of high school, my friend Anna and I discovered we’d neglected to earn the gym credits required to graduate. In a kind of accelerated recovery process, we were forced to enroll in Weightlifting with half of the Golden Wave, Tupelo High’s middling football team. Our class met daily […]
June 16, 2019

Rental diaries, vol. 23

I had dinner last night with an old friend and onetime Florence housemate, someone who inspires envy quite easily: ritzy job in Rome, gorgeous wardrobe, adoring fidanzato. Even though we lived together briefly, she’s still the kind of person I imagine sleeps on a cloud, remembers to toss lavender sachets in the laundry, and keeps […]