Libreria Aqua Alta Entrance

Down one of the more typical walkways of Venice, in the heart of the Castello Sestieri (neighborhood), and in the shadow of the gorgeous Cathedral of San Giovanni e Paolo, is an unexpected treasure of Venice, the Bookstore of High Water (Libreria Aqua Alta). Please refer to the map link below for detailed location information.

Any self-respecting lover of books MUST visit, if only for the memorable curiosities contained within: a gondola (yes, a real gondola) full of books, room after room of volumes stacked, in most cases, to the ceiling, another small boat filled with hard and soft covers and, as a final treat, an outdoor set of stairs built from tomes that afford you a view of the canal behind the shop.


The Infamous 3-D Artwork

As you enter the store, be prepared for the friendly and outgoing owner, Luigi Frizzo, to greet you. Along with his pointing out a certain three dimensional painting of Venetian palazzi, showcased near the check out counter (right), one of any number of well fed cats may stare you down, might stretch and resettle or could even meow a hello.

I have visited this libreria numerous times over the years. Each visit, I wonder how Luigi keeps the bookstore, literally and figuratively, afloat.

When you are next in Venice, make sure you add a short easy break at the “High Water”. You will not be disappointed.

Calle Longa Santa Maria Formosa (Corte Senza Nome)

5176/B – Castello, 30122 Venice

Tel: +39 041 296 08 41

Daily Hours: 9:00AM – 8:00PM


Several of our readers and travelers have asked about Michelin rated restaurants in Florence. There are forty-four restaurants in the city’s 2016 Michelin Restaurant Guide. Of those, our list represents only those who have achieved at least one star by Michelin.

All of these establishments are more than worth making a reservation, even if it is months in advance!

As always, buon appetito!

***Enoteca Pinchiorri

Enoteca Pinchiorri

Via Ghibellina 87, Florence

+39 055 242757


Closed Sunday and Monday

Tuesday – Saturday 7:30PM – 10:00PM


*Winter Garden By Caino

Piazza Ognissanti 1, 50123 Florence

+39 055 2716



Daily 7:30PM – 10:00PM

Terrace 11:00AM – 1:30AM

*Borgo San Jacopo

Borgo San Jacopo 62R, 50125 Florence

+39 055 281661


Daily 7:00PM – 10:00PM



*Il Palagio, Four Seasons Hotel

Borgo Pinti 88, 50121 Florence

+39 055 2626450


Breakfast Daily 7:00AM – 11:00AM

Brunch Sunday: (October to June Only): 12:30PM – 3:00PM

Dinner Daily: 7:00PM – 11:00PM

*Ora d’aria

Ora d’ariaVia dei Georgofili 11R, 50122 Florence

+39 055 2001699


Closed Sunday

Monday: 7:30PM – 10:00PM

Tuesday – Saturday: 12:30PM – 2:30PM

7:30PM – 10:00PM

*La Bottega del Buon Caffè

La Bottega del Buon Caffè

Lungarno Cellini 69R, 50122 Florence

+39 055 5535677


Closed Sunday

Monday: 7:30PM – 10:00PM

Tuesday – Saturday: 12:30PM – 2:30PM

7:30PM – 10:00PM

Those of you fortunate enough to be in Italy this coming weekend, 24 and 25 September, can take advantage of extended museum hours and reduced museum entrance fees as part of the annual celebration of European Heritage.

The Florence Tourist Information Office has published a complete list of the museums and sites favorably affected by these special days. See below for a link to the document.

Image result for piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria, Firenze

If you are at all interested in saving and seeing while in Florence, this is the weekend to do so! The link below is the official announcement, in Italian, for the special pricing and hours. The listing is in English and you can find information about hours and pricing.  .


ENJOY bella Firenze on two very important and special days.

If you would like to learn more about our small group explorations of Italy with four unique and distinct itineraries, please visit us at: www.private-italy.com

During some recent research on the background of Doménikos Theotokópoulos, called El Greco in his most productive years, I came across a rather startling similarity in Pontormo’s Visitation and that of El Greco.

Take a look:


El Greco 1610 – Dumbarton Oaks


Pontormo 1529- San Michele in Carmignano

Note the position of Elizabeth’s left foot, the figure on the right in both paintings, as well as the positions of the left and right hands in greeting. Given that El Greco’s work post dates that of Pontormo by some eight-one years, I believe that El Greco was significantly inspired by the earlier master.

In a blog about the “Mask of Pontormo” , published some time ago, I discussed a curious visual style to the scarf that en wraps Mary’s head. I still believe Pontormo’s eyes saw more than any other of us might see in his work.

Perhaps that is also true of El Greco, particularly in another of his works about which I will write another blog, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.

Stay tuned.


Poster for the Exhibition

“Of Loves and Ladies, Knights and Arms, I sing, of Courtesies, and Many a daring feat…”

So begins the story.

Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1522) is a name well known within Italian literary culture. It was he who wrote the epic poem, Orland Furioso, a continuation of Orlando Innamorata (unfinished, 1491) by Matteo Maria Boiardo.

Depicting a battle between Charlemagne and the King of Africa, Agramante. Ariosto’s final edition (he added five cantos to the first edition in 1521) is composed of forty-five cantos.

Written in Ferrara between 1510 and 1516, it is now considered to be among the masterpieces of western literature.

Thanks to the generous work of Project Gutenberg , we have immediate access to the poem: Orlando Furioso

The exhibit in Ferrara’s Palazzo dei Diamanti (a stunner of Renaissance architecture) also showcases the culture of the time. Artifacts from the period of Ariosto’s work, which began in 1506, along with art, armor, works of art and other renaissance treasures compliment the exhibit.

From the museum’s exhibit announcement: “…from Mantegna to Leonardo, from Raphael to Michelangelo to Titian—in addition to ancient and Renaissance sculptures, engravings, tapestries, weapons, books, and artifacts of extraordinary beauty and value, (we) will bring back to life Orlando Furioso’s fantastic world of knights and warriors…”

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Portrait of Ludovico Ariosto

The exhibit is receiving widespread and appropriately exceptional reviews. If you find yourself in Italy during the exhibit’s run, I strongly encourage you to go!

Ferrara is within an easy day’s train excursion from Venice (app. One Hour), Florence (One hour on the Freccia)  or Milan (app. two hours).

Orlando Furioso 500 years
What did Ariosto see when he closed his eyes

24 September 2016 – 8 January 2017

Opening hours

Daily, including Mondays and public holidays:
9am – 7 pm
(last ticket issued 30 min. before close)
Also open 1 November, 8, 25 and 26 December, 1 and 6 January


Audioguide included for individuals, whisper phones for groups
– Full: 13.00 Euros

– Reduced Ticket prices: 11.00 Euros (6 to 18 years, over 65, university students, members of associations with special agreements)


September 8 marks the opening of another new restaurant in Florence, San Niccolò 39. A recent review the The Florentine magazine highlights the ‘chic’ atmosphere of the place. Next time I’m in Florence, I will certainly go enjoy a meal.

If you are in Florence this fall and wish to give this new venture by the former restaurant manager at the Savoy Hotel (5*Lux in the city center), try San Niccolo 39!

Image result for San Niccolo 39 Florence Restaurant

San Niccolo, 39 Interior. Photo credits to The Florentine

Opening September 8

Via San Niccolo 39, Florence

FB San Niccolò 39

Tel: +


I am very pleased to announce our fabulous two week exploration of the Heart of the Alps, Switzerland.

From Zurich to St. Gallen, St. Moritz to Zermatt and many places in between, our incredible tour encompasses the country in a well paced and easy way.

All Five-Star hotels, incredible scenery, guided tours, fabulous cuisine and fully escorted throughout, enhanced by many additional services, this is a much anticipated opportunity to experience Switzerland; a land like no other.

Only fourteen spaces are available for this unique tour.

Das Herz der Alpen Switzerland 2017

Lauterbrunnen Valley from Mannlichen

The Lauterbrunnen Valley from Männlichen – Above Grindelwald in the Berner Oberland

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