Fiesole and the Hills Around Florence

The small town called Fiesole stands on a hill north of Florence and is reached through some of the loveliest panoramic roads in the capital town of Tuscany.

The first settlements in the area date back to the Etruscan era. The Etruscans were a mysterious people coming from present Turkey. But it is under the Romans that Fiesole became the most important town in the area, at least until Florence ascent. Traces of that period are still visible in Fiesole, as for example the wonderful Roman theatre, built following the slope of the hill.

In the Renaissance many noble families chose to have their countryside residences built on this hill. Nowadays in Fiesole there are over 30 villas – elegant buildings surrounded by well-tended luxuriant gardens.

Fiesole attracts many tourists, and in spring and summer weekends the Florentine love to climb the hill and enjoy the panorama while eating an artisanal ice cream.

But that of Fiesole is not the only hill around Florence. South of the town there are Arcetri (which is renowned for having been the place where Galileo Galilei was secluded), Poggio Imperiale, where you can admire one of the Florentine villas that once belonged to the Medicis, and Bellosguardo, whose name (meaning “magnificent view”) reveals its major feature.

And if you still have doubts about how fascinating would be living in a villa on the hills around Florence, remember that at the beginning of the 20th century Enrico Caruso bought two of them.

 

 

 

If you want to visit Fiesole and the hills around Florence with a private guide, check out our Guided Visits in Florence!

Florence during Christmas holidays

During the month of December, Florence has a magical atmosphere. When Christmas gets close, you can feel it everywhere. The streets are full of Christmas lights, different for each neighborhood, making the city very colourful.

For several days, in the squares there are a lot of Christmas markets, where the stands offer many products: crafts, food and warm beverages and many others. Among these, one of the most famous market is of course the international Christmas market in Santa Croce, which is part of Florentine tradition, with its typical small wooden houses, where you can find handmade pieces and gastronomic specialities from all over the world.

Another famous tradition is the big Christmas tree situated in Piazza Duomo, that is lighted during the official ceremony on December 8th, in occasion of the Immaculate Conception; next to the tree, on the church porch of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, is organized the Christmas nativity scene composed by handmade terracotta statues, which stays in the square until January 6th, Epiphany’s day, the last day of this magical holiday time.

Would you like to discover more about Italy and its culture? Check out our Italian culture courses!

History of the Birth of Italian Language in Florence

Although Florence is responsible for the exile of Dante Alighieri, the city, still today, is living in the reflection of the poet’s glory. Dante is famous all over the world for his enormous contribution toward the spreading of the Italian language in literature. Before Dante began to use his vulgar language, Latin was the official language of writing.It’s thanks to him if Florentine language has acquired the status of standard italian. Whatever the merits of the claim, a modern standardised language only really started to gain ground in the 19th century. In his literary masterpiece, “I Promessi Sposi” (The Betrothed), Alessandro Manzoni, the novelist of Milan, struggled against Tuscan language in order to give to his writing a more broadly national appeal. From the end of the second world war the media have made use of a standardised Italian, making it known to the Italian public:from the north to the south of the peninsula.

Would you like to learn Italian language? Check out our Italian language courses!

Italian Cooking: Fish Fingers and Sweet Potato Oven-Fries

Ingredients
4 sweet potatoes 700 g
2 egg whites
1 tsp salt, for the potatoes 4 g
ground pepper to taste [optional]
1 tbsp olive oil 15 mL
parchment paper, for the sheet
4 tilapia fillets, or turbot, cut into 4 x 8 cm pieces 700 g
1/3 cup mayonnaise 85 mL
1/2 cup bread crumbs 65 g
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 g
1 tsp dried oregano 1 g
1 pinch salt, for the fish [optional] 0.1 g
vegetable oil spray
125 mL Tartare Sauce 1/2 cup

Method
Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F. Line with parchment paper a large baking sheet and an ovenproof dish. Start baking the potatoes. Prepare the fish during the first 15 min of potato baking. Bake the fish with the potatoes during the last 15 min of potato baking.

Oven «fried» potatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F. Line with parchment paper a large baking sheet and an ovenproof dish. Prepare the potatoes first and start cooking them. Prepare the fish while the potatoes are baking, then bake the fish with the potatoes during the last 15 min.

2. Peel the potatoes, then cut them into 1×8 cm pieces. It is important to cut them into pieces of similar size so that they will all cook evenly and be done at the same time.

3. In a deep dish, whisk the egg white with the oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the potato pieces and coat them well with the egg white mixture. Transfer them to the baking sheet. Don’t crowd the potatoes on the sheet or they will steam and not turn golden-brown.

4. Bake on the bottom oven rack 15 min, then turn the potatoes and bake an additional 15 min.

Oven «fried» fish

5. Cut the fish into 4×8 cm pieces.

6. Prepare 2 shallow dishes: put the mayonnaise in one dish, then combine the bread crumbs, Cayenne pepper, oregano, and salt to taste in the other dish. Spread each fish piece with the mayonnaise, then coat it with the bread crumbs mixture. Turn the fish to coat all sides.

7. Put the fish pieces on the prepared ovenproof dish and spray them evenly with a vegetable oil spray. Bake the fish for 15 min on the top oven rack.

8. Take the fish and potatoes out of the oven. Serve with the tartar sauce on the side.

If you wish to know more on Italian cooking or you’s like to take a few lessons to learn and improve your cooking skills with a professional chef, then take a look to our Italian cooking courses!

Italian Cooking: Colomba – Easter Dove Cake

The Easter Dove (in italian la Colomba di Pasqua) is a cake from Italy and traditionally served at Easter. Here’s the recipe!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb all-purpose flour
5 oz butter
4 ½ oz sugar
1 ¾ oz fresh yeast
3 eggs
5 oz mixed candied fruit
almonds, sweet to taste
coarse sugar to taste
⅛ oz salt

PREPARATION:
Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water and slowly work in half of the flour; allow the dough to rise in a warm place in a floured bowl.

When the dough has doubled in size, place it in a larger bowl and add the remaining flour, beaten eggs, melted butter, sugar and salt.

Work the dough gently until it stops sticking to the sides of the bowl, cover with a cloth and allow to rise for another hour.

Sprinkle flour on the raisins and the candied peel then shake excess flour away in a sieve.

Add the raisins and candied peel to the dough, place in a dove-shaped mould and decorate with almonds, baste with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar crystals.

Cook in a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes.

If you want to learn this and many other recipes of our cuisine, remember that the Galilei Institute offers Italian cooking courses in Florence, all year round!!

Wine Tasting in Florence

Florentine and Tuscan Wines are very famous all around the world, thanks to the wine production areas that surround Florence, like the most famous: Chianti.

Two of the main noble families of Florence, Antinori and Frescobaldi, began producing wine 8 centuries ago. They have been great rivals ever since.

In Florence you can visit a “Cantina” (Wine cellar) to enjoy a delightful wine tasting or winery tour inside an “Enoteca” (Wine bar). In these wineries you can taste: Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and many more wines!

Here’s some pictures of our clients:

If you would like to enjoy very good Italian wines we suggest you our Wine Tasting in Florence, an unforgettable experience for your palate!

website: www.galilei.it

Institute Galilei

The Galilei Institute is one of the most prestigious among the Italian language and culture schools in Italy for foreigners.

Our school of Italian language was established in 1985, in the centre of Florence, with the aim of providing high quality linguistic services to private people and multi-national companies in need to learn the basics as well as to improve the Italian language up to the highest levels in little time. That is the reason why the Institute Galilei specializes in one-to-one and small group courses with max. 4 participants per class.

After only a few years, the quality of our courses, the reliability of the programs, and the rigorous attention to the individual and her/his linguistic needs allowed us to establish a reputation for meeting the needs of some of the leading companies of the world, many of which have become our steady customers.

Today, the school also offers one-to-one and small group courses in Italian culture such as art history, Italian cooking, and drawing & painting (taught in Italian, English, and on request in other languages). These courses complete the services of the Institute Galilei allowing a practical and immediate approach not only to the Italian language but also to the main aspects of the Italian culture.

Institute Galilei

 

Curious Florence: Florence’s Historic Cafés

To discover Florence through its buildings, its monuments, and its museums is certainly an effective way to experience the charm of the Medici city that has remained intact over the centuries. To visit its historic cafés, however, is tantamount to catching a glimpse of its soul and its history. Indeed, the fortune of some of the most famous streets and squares of Florence is linked precisely to these important meeting places. This is the case with Piazza della Repubblica, one of the most beautiful squares of Florence. Contrary to what you may think, the square’s fame is not due to its architecture and famous arch, but to its literary cafes: Le Giubbe Rosse, Gilli and Caffè Paszkowski. All three were involved to varying degrees in one of the biggest cultural phenomena of the twentieth century – Futurism – the literary and artistic movement dedicated to the myths of modernity, strength, speed, and power, as incarnations of technology and progress.

Le Giubbe Rosse
Le Giubbe Rosse opened in 1827, and took its name from the clothes of the waiters who wore red coats. In the early years of the 1900s, it was the favorite of many intellectuals of the time. However, after the publication of the Futurist Manifesto of 1909, it became the seat of the Florentine Futurists, in particular Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carra, and later became a meeting place for writers and artists, both Italian and foreign. It was initially a chess club – it is said that Lenin was a frequent guest – and really never lost this label. In the period between the two world wars, it was home to the famous magazine “Solaria,” which introduced Italians to writers like Joyce, Kafka and Virginia Woolf.
Its walls are still decorated with Futurist and Neo-Futurist paintings in an elegant, yet casual, setting where one can taste the typical dishes of Florence. There are also many photos, drawings and memories of its famous patrons. It is still a center of culture and art.

Caffè Concerto Paszkowski
Caffè Concerto Paszkowski opened in 1846 as a brewery, but it soon became a café where the Concerto Paszkowski performed as well as a famous all-female orchestra, rare for the time. Again, this café-brasserie soon became a meeting place of the leaders of literature and art of the early 1900s; after the war, its musical vocation turned decisively towards cabaret. Even today this ancient musical tradition is well represented by the artists who perform there. There are also conferences and fashion shows, while its tea rooms are a must for foreign visitors who want to have a break. In 1991 it was declared a national monument.

Caffè Gilli
At the beginning of the century, Caffè Gilli was an elegant meeting place, frequented by artists and intellectuals such as Marinetti and Soffici. A café in the Belle Époque style with ivory-colored walls, Murano glass chandeliers, painted ceilings, and arches that confirm the good taste and the warmth of the Florentines. Many photographs of international artists are immortalized within its halls. But it is outside the Caffè Gilli where Ruth Orkin’s famous photograph entitled American Girl in Italy 1951 was taken. The photo, which portrays the twenty-three year old American Ninalee Craig walking on the sidewalk in front of the bar, surrounded by the admiring glances of his young visitors, became in time a well-known icon of cinema and photography.

source: Italia.it

Discover Florence, its tradition and history with our art history  andour history of Florence courses 🙂

Curious Florence:

credits for the video: Around The World 4K

Florence represents one of the most charming and  important art cities in Italy, visited every year by thousands of tourists from all around the world.

Florentia, this is its ancient name, is the town that marked the history of our country and of Europe, it’s no coincidence that Florence became, for a few years, the capital of Italy.
Cradle of Italian language and culture, it represents the symbol of Renaissance as well, Florence experienced the greatest  splendor during the fifteenth and the sixteenth century in reason of its political power and of its rich cultural and artistic flowering.
During the Medici Dynasty and in particular during the Lordship of Lorenzo il Magnifico and Cosimo I, the town became one of the most important cultural poles of attraction in Europe.

Would you like to discover more about Italian and Florentine History? Check out our History of Florence courses!

Italian cooking: Italy, the Land of Taste

Italy has always been a synonym for “good food,” offering an unmistakable explosion of flavors, scents, and aromas. Aside from having one of the most famous cuisines in the world, it also proposes an immense variety of different regional dishes and recipes.

cucina italiana

Visitors cannot miss the culinary and wine itineraries – journeys through Italy’s enogastronomic culture, in search of ancient recipes, genuine products, and simple food inspired by classic Italian cooking and innovative creations. World-renowned products such as Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, Parma and San Daniele ham, Modena balsamic vinegar, Genoa’s pesto, buffalo mozzarella from Campania, Alba truffles are just some of the symbols that make Italy the land of good food. And how could we forget pasta and pizza, universal synonyms for Italy?

cucina italiana

If you wish to know more on Italian cooking or you’s like to take a few lessons to learn and improve your cooking skills with a professional chef, then take a look to our Italian cooking courses!