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For those of us who love Florence, any video, non less one of this quality and beauty, will make us weep with longing. There is no other city like Florence, nor is there in Italy any other collection of Museums like those you will find there.

We spend days in Florence, both on our Small Group Tours of Tuscany as well as our annual Art and History Tour based in Florence each March.

Enjoy this video. It captures, better than any I have yet seen, the texture, the emotional feel and the glorious beauty that is at the heart of bella Firenze.

Click on the text or photo below to view the video. Enjoy.

SEVEN CENTURIES OF HISTORY – DUOMO COMPLEX OF FLORENCE

A dear Italian friend, Patrizia Falaski, forwarded these beautiful photographs taken in side the newly reopened Museo degli Innocenti. The entrance is located directly on the Piazza Santissima Annunziata in Florence.

As I have written in my other blog post about the Ospedale, please GO! This place is a treasure of Florence with few visitors.

Innocenti Three

Della Robbia Figure

Innocenti Six

Internal Courtyard Ospedale degli Innocenti – Jewish Synagogue in the background

 

Innocenti Ten

Patrizia walking in the courtyard of the Ospedale

Innocenti Five

Madonna col Bambino, 1446-1449 Della Robbia

L’isola Que Non C’era

Not many months ago, I had the opportunity to enjoy lunch at a new restaurant, L’Isola Che Non C’era. Located in the heart of Lucca, it is just steps off of the most famous street in the city, Via Filungo.

I have returned many times since!

For over fifty-three years, Roberto Isola and his wife Lory owned and operated a very successful delicatessen in Lucca.

Riccardo, their son, now managers this  lovely two level restaurant on the Via degli Angeli.

During a recent visit I went for lunch with a dear friend, Wanda Martinelli – who also happens to be the best guide in Lucca and the surrounding hills!

Roberto and Lory

Roberto greeted us with a great smile and easy manner. He gave us a brief tour of the restaurant. Downstairs offers ten tables inside as well as a few tables, weather permitting, on the front terrace. The deli counter displays tavola calda specialties along with shelves packed full of exceptional products; Olive Oil, Pasta and a selection of local Lucca region wines. Upstairs are a large, brightly lit, dining room and kitchen.

While not fancy, this is a very good trattoria in the city.

Lunch was a selection of cold cut meats and antipasti, the perfect light fare for a warm summer’s day in the city. The food was exceptional and the price for two of us was very reasonable.

 

Lory and Riccardo

Their full menu offers various pastas(all fatta in casa, home made), lasagna, eggplant parmesan, salt cod with leeks, roast beef, roast potatoes, farro salad and seafood salad, to name but a few of their exceptional dishes. Dinner menu items range from Euro 10.00 up to Euro 22.00.

When you are in Lucca, be sure to stroll down the cool and inviting Via degli Angeli for a flavorful meal at L’isola Che Non C’era!

 

The “Deli” showcase – Makes you salivate!

Photography Credits: Foto Fiorenzo Sernacchioli, Lucca

IF YOU GO:

L’Isola Che Non C’era

Via degli Angeli, 7LuccaItalia

Tel: +39.0583.49.26.33

Hours: Monday – Saturday 102:00 Noon to 22:00 (10:00PM)

Sunday – Closed

 

 

So…you are staying in Lucca, have arrived in the city by train, or you have parked at the train station. Would you like to enjoy a unique break just outside the city walls-perhaps some exceptional pastries and fabulous coffee?

 

I recommend the perfect place: The LuccaLibri Coffee house and Bookshop.

Located less than a two minute walk from the train station piazza in Lucca (Piazzale Bettino Ricasoli) and only five minutes from the southern-most city gate of Lucca, Porta San Pietro, this place offers it all: great coffee, exceptional baked goods and a clean, safe environment in which to relax.

Wanda Martinelli, a dear friend and guide, introduced me to this special place in the spring of 2015. Every time since, when I visit Lucca with our small group tours or on my own, I stop in for a welcomed break. I have worked with Wanda for over fifteen years and she is, without question, the best guide in the area!

Next time you are in Lucca, regardless of circumstance, please give this wonderful place your business. You will not be disappointed!

Details:

LuccaLibri

Vialle Regina Margherita, 113

55100 Lucca

Tel: +39.0583.46.96.27

Hours: 06:00AM – 20:30PM (8:30PM) DAILY

Directions:

From the train station, walk across the graveled piazza in front of the station. Turn LEFT on the sidewalk along the main ‘ring road’. LuccaLibri is on your left about 100 meters from the station piazza.

If you park at the train station in Lucca, exit the parking area toward, and across, the piazza, and you will find LuccaLibri on your left about 100 meters from the station piazza.

If you are inside the city walls, you can exit the Porta San Pietro, walk to your left to the pedestrian walkway at the traffic light and cross the main road. Turn LEFT and walk about 200 meters to LuccaLibri.

FB Page – LuccaLibri

The baked goods case and coffee prep area, on the right

Reading room at the Cafe

View from the cafe on a beautiful spring day

 

One of the vendors we have worked with for many years, Emilia Delizia, has recently published the following update on how the recent exit of the UK from the EU will effect travelers from the US and the UK in to Europe.

With their permission I am forwarding this information to you in the hopes that you find it of assistance in these changes times.

How Brexit Will Affect Traveling To Italy (for UK and US visitors)

The decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union will undoubtedly have uncertain implications for the British people. The only certainty guaranteed by this so called ‘Brexit’ vote is that things will likely never be the same again for Britain in its relations with EU countries such as Italy. As such British tourists are likely to be the first group of Brits who will experience first hand the uncertain and little known consequences that might materialize as the UK negotiates itself out of the EU. Listed below are examples of some of the uncertain repercussions of the Brexit vote to British tourists who wish to travel to Italy.

Brexit tea

1. Costly Visas

Brexit has meant that, for the Brits at least, the days of the freedom of movement of people throughout Europe looks likely to be a thing of the past. Brits might now be treated as non-EU citizens, meaning that it is highly likely that they will be unable to cross a border-less EU without frequent passport checks. If any British national wishes to travel to Italy, it is probable that they will have to apply for and purchase a visa. This will mean that Brits will be subject to visa restrictions upon the amount of time they are permitted to stay within Italy before renewing their visa at an additional cost.

2. Poor Exchange Rate

As the full economic repercussions of the Brexit vote will not be known for many years to come, global markets have naturally reacted negatively at the level of uncertainty created by such a vote. This has resulted in a general weakening of pound sterling against all other major currencies such as the euro, meaning that British tourists traveling to a country like Italy could potentially have reduced spending power. The knock-on effect of this being that they might have less expendable money to spend over the course of their vacation on things like food and drink, excursions and souvenirs.

3. Expensive Air Travel

The Brexit vote has also created uncertainty about UK access to EU airspace, which could mean that the UK will have no other option than to renegotiate its air space treaties with all 27 EU member states. This could potentially mean that all UK-based air travel companies might have to pay increased fees in exchange for access to EU airspace, which perhaps will inevitably have to be passed onto the customer. This could spell the end of British access to cheap EU air travel, by forcing British tourists (and indeed non-EU tourists who fly from the UK specifically to access cheap EU flights) to pay more money for their flight to Italy from any UK airport.

Having said that we should also consider the possibility of less popular routes being abandoned by cheap no frills airlines due to higher costs, casting a shadow on smaller but crucial airports. Travelers from the U.S. too who often use Ryanair flights to Italy might have fewer choices in the future when it comes to air travel.

4. Increased Roaming Charges

The Brexit vote has also cast serious doubt over the UK’s continued access to cheap EU roaming charges, with many fearing that British telecom companies might have no other option than to charge British tourists higher roaming charges while they holiday in countries like Italy. Such a prospect could also negatively affect many non-EU tourists, such as those from the USA, who often purchase a UK sim card in order to take advantage of cheap EU call charges.

5. High-Cost Healthcare

Although not confirmed by either country, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has technically terminated the right of British citizens to be treated by the Italian Health Service while on holiday. This is still far from being a certainty, but if this is to be the case, then in future British tourists might have to procure and manage their own healthcare while on vacation in Italy. If both the UK and Italian governments are able to sort out a bilateral deal over the provision of healthcare to British tourists, it is likely that such an arrangement will charge British tourists for access to the Italian Health Service. However this is speculative and far from certain.

US travelers emergency treatment in Italy is still based upon US Healthcare coverage as well as International Travelers Insurance voluntarily acquired.

Overall the effects of Brexit on British tourists who wish to travel to Italy will in all likelihood be largely negative in nature. For a start Brits might find that the price of a holiday to Italy will be much higher than when the UK was a member of the EU, largely because of a poor sterling exchange rate with the euro and the fact that many benefits of being a member of the EU, such as visa free travel and access to healthcare, might now come with a costly price tag. In short, Brexit has potentially cost British tourists more money in order to travel to Italy and given them fresh uncertainty over simple things like roaming charges and more substantial issues such as access to the Italian Health Service when injured or ill.

As the long-term President of a tour company that has provided exceptional travel experiences in Italy, Greece, Switzerland and Germany to over 750 satisfied guests, I feel compelled to write a brief statement to those of you who may be considering flying Vueling Airlines.

In a word: DON’T!

We have had innumerable issues with the airline, from poor communication regarding flight status, delayed flights with no explanation, missed international connections by our clients and lost/delayed luggage.

The most recent experience is still ongoing:  Nine months after one piece of client’s luggage was delayed by over ten days during a tour, the airline has yet to settle the more than fair and complete filing made for reimbursement for expenses. The filing was submitted to Vueling on October 24, 2015.

Despite making over fifty calls to Vueling Customer Service over these past nearly nine months, there has been but one person in the company who has contacted us. Still no resolution.

My own delayed luggage experience: after six months of waiting and making over thirty calls to Vueling to follow up on my file, the settlement was finally made. The amount requested with submitted receipts was cut by 56% of the fair amount requested with no explanation.

A family of four clients held tickets on a Vueling flight from Barcelona to Madrid to make an international connection to a US bound flight. With no explanation given, Vueling cancelled their scheduled flight and no one at the airline was willing to assist the family in making other arrangements to get to Madrid. The family had to take the train to Madrid, with no assistance provided by Vueling for the inconvenience, and they had to move their return flight to the following day.

These are only three of a list of issues our clients or I have experienced with this airline.

You must carefully consider whether having confidence in receiving your checked luggage and/or your ability to rely on making flight connections are worth the risk of flying on Vueling.

We will no longer endorse nor support any of our clients using the airline whether for a tour, itinerary planning services or travel advice.

A brief word of explanation about airline ownership and control: British Airlines, Iberia Airlines and others are owned by, or are held in majority stake by, an organization called International Airline Group (IAG). Vueling is 97.52% majority stake held by IAG. Some of the airline members of IAG are also members of the One World Alliance, a confederation of airlines who have agreed to share some services, booking ‘ease’ and similar mileage credit programs.

We have written to the CEO’s of IAG member airlines who are involved with the management of Vueling or who are affiliated with the One World Alliance. The letters inform those CEO’s of our intent to boycott their services for all future clients who book any travel services with our company.

 

A unique experience is being offered by the Uffizi Gallery and Florence Museums this summer. If you are, or will be, in Florence through the end of September, GO!

Every Tuesday evening through the 27th of September 2016, the Uffizi gallery will open its doors to the public at no charge (you must have a ticket-see below). A wide array of performances will be given, all performed to enrich your encounter with the greatest art treasures of the Renaissance.

See “Details” below for ticket information.

Uffizi Corridor

From the music and Gregorian chant of the 14th Century to more contemporary artists and performers, these evenings will offer a greater depth to the beauty of the museum’s already rich diversity of art.

As but one example, on July 5 2016 the program provides an evocative music concert with medieval chant. The Ensemble San Felice, composed of five musicians and two singers and conducted by Maestro Federico Bardazzi, will present a selection of music written by the composer and musician of the fourteenth century, Francesco Landini.

To gain a better sense of the profound quality of the work the Ensemble San Felice provides, please take a few minutes to listen to La Musica Della Commmedia, Te Deum Laudamus performed by the ensemble. Click on the photo below to watch the video.

Byzantine Crixtus

Many other talented musicians and performers are on the the schedule for this year. The link provided will be updated in late July with the programs scheduled through the end of the 2016 season.

DETAILS:

Until September 27, 2016, every Tuesday the Uffizi Gallery will remain open from 19:00 (7:00PM) to 22:00 (10:00PM). Admission to the museum is free of charge and you can book your visit through the website, www.uffizi.it, or by calling the museum booking number of the Florence Museums +39.055.29.48.83

 

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