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Useful resources about life in Florence, Italy, focusing on the international community.

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An Interview with Rab Hatfield

Trained at Harvard, professor Rab Hatfield taught at Yale for five years before coming to Florence to head the Art History Department at Syracuse University. The majority of his research deals with Renaissance art, with a particular emphasis on Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. His books include The Riches of

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‘Come si deve’

In a country where food must always be served at the right time and temperature, I find Sunday brunch the easiest way to entertain. I say this for two simple reasons. First, I am a morning person who makes a mean pancake. Second, the prospect of serving pasta to al

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‘Arrangiarsi’

‘Arrangiarsi or the ability to ‘arrange oneself’ is all about overcoming obstacles. Italians love to jump fences, and they do it with an agile grace that people from Anglo-cultures can ...

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‘Insomma’

The Florentine is hunting for a new home and I’ve been trying all day not to write about it. But our search for an office keeps sneaking into my article as if this page were the rented space we’re looking for. So, after hours of wrestling

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‘Mah…’

‘Sometimes used to introduce discussion or resume debate, mah is the net that captures stray thoughts. It’s the time you take before you jump and your chance to consider how ...

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‘La Privacy’

Watch how people share secrets and you’ll discover the things they are trying to hide.  Learn how a country exchanges confidences and you’ll uncover the cornerstone of social rapport.   Italians may be known to the world as free-speaking, overly expressive individuals, but in

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An interview with Giovanna Ferrer

Giovanna Ferrer was once the director of International Public Relations for Salvatore Ferragamo, drove a sports car, and lived in the centre of Florence. Since then she moved on to ...

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‘Bello, bellino, bellissimo’

It was only the third day of the New Year and I had already decided that I was not going to write a single word until the end of the next century. When I am struck by that particular form of self-pity known as ‘writer’s block,&

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The legend of La Befana

Traditionally the children of Italy anxiously await a visit from another figure, La Befana, hanging up their stockings on January 6, the Feast of Epiphany, rather than Christmas Eve.

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‘Avere un feeling’

It was an eerily sunny day in December and my friend Silvia and I were weaving our way to the park with the greenhouse. Her daughter Sofia had a play-date and we were, of course, late. As we dragged the poor child by the cuff through the whizzing traffic

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‘Ritratto di signora…’ Portrait of a lady

Today I’m waging a silent war against a blank page and an enemy expression that has yet to reveal itself. It is Saturday and, gratefully, the office is quiet. Most of the theatre troupe that makes this newspaper have all trooped home to their weekend stage-plays. The

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An Interview with Contessa Simonetta Brandolini D’Adda

The Contessa is married to an Italian count and has lived in Italy for over 33 years. In 1998, she started Friends of Florence, a non-profit foundation that raises money to preserve Florence’s artistic legacy.  The organization has raised millions of dol-lars to fund major

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Picture this!

Once upon a time there was a grandmother who loved Italy. She wanted her young grandson to learn to love its culture and people as she did. So she bought him two books: Everyday Life in Ancient Rome and Everyday Life in the Renaissance. Back home she had a closer

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‘Vorrei’

I spent my first years in Florence teaching parts of speech to mother-tongue English speakers who considered grammar the Boogie man under the bed. Now my stints as ‘grammar girl’ are limited to a few English lessons a month with my businessman friend, who needs to speak

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‘Fare il ponte dei morti’

I have just spent the entire afternoon dumping the contents of my drawers into cardboard boxes. I found them crushed on aisle seven at the Coop this morning and spent the better part of an hour trying to tape them into squares again. Now that the boxes are almost full,

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‘Prendere la palla al balzo’

During my Venetian years, I lived in a crumbling, 16th-century apartment whose best ‘room’ was the terrace on the top floor. I was up there one afternoon mopping— something I did on rare occasions for the sole purpose of keeping my neighbour lady happy. She and

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‘Si fa per dire…’

Martina and I piled into an already crowded café in hopes of a corner table. Once a month we meet there to talk, sip cappuccino, and perhaps jot a line or two in our 'Be Bohemian’ notebooks. We were actually both quite busily writing, when someone at the

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‘Italiani mammoni’

Giorgio Moro was admittedly very relieved to be walking me home. The night had been a terrible bore, he said. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really deny it. I had spent our entire dinner picking his brain for an Italian expression that might please me. ‘Too much to say&

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“Il rientro”: back to work

It’s Tuesday—the day we put the newspaper to bed. And yes, since the entire staff has spent the last few weeks boldly courting summer, we are surprised that the paper ...

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Meno male

Reflection on the frequently used expression.

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‘Mamma mia’

My mother says that if you really hate something, the best thing to do is spend time with it. Once enough hours have passed, it will become your friend. Spend time with your enemies and you will develop empathy for them. Spend time with your detestable list of conditional verbs

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‘Prendere in giro’

Lunch at Lola’s is a true taste of Tuscan theatre. Everyday, my colleagues and I squeeze in the door at half past twelve in efforts to beat our neighbours to the corner table. The menu is written on a paper place-mat and hung on the wall weekly,

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Allora

It’s Monday night and I’m desperate for a word. The rest of the world is out watching the World Cup on the big screen. Italy is playing tonight and everyone ...

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