Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Life gets in the Way

That's not me.
Life. It always seems to get in the way. I know that a lot of people have a very romantic idea of living in Italy and that things are always fantastic and wonderful and that I get to sip red wine all day long as I sit in the piazza and watch the world go by!! I wish! Unfortunately that's not the case, especially right now since its still a bit too chilly to do that. No, as it were, these days I have been spending a lot of time working on projects and ideas for the Spring with hopes that the warm weather will also bring some [sun] light to these endeavors as well.

After extensive research and having tried a few different avenues in the past for selling my jewelry designs, I have decided to really try and focus all of my efforts on my Etsy shop and make it as best as it can be. I am hoping that with the proper adjusts and upgrades I will be able to finally make a profit from my work and support myself as a designer.  So I have gone back and changed the entire look of the shop and I am now working on making new pieces and taking new photographs to fill it up!

Then I began to look through the hundreds of photos I have taken in the past several years and thought that I would try my luck at opening an Etsy shop for my photographs as well. And maybe I shouldn't say this but I don't' really think that I'm a very good photographer, but I love to take them and I am always willing to take a risk and I guess I will never know until I try, right? To be honest I haven't been spending as much time on it as I probably need to but its there and I will update it from time to time.

We are also starting to approach the high tourist season, granted we still have about 6 more weeks of quiet but reservations for the apartment are already starting to come in through Airbnb, which is of course great news. But that means lots of inquiries and questions to answer!

And.........We are also STILL trying to clean out our garage and decide what we are going to do with that space once we're finished. Its a daunting task, that's for sure! We have found lots of interesting things in there though!

And just in case that wasn't enough for me to keep up with, two of my girlfriends and I have decided that we are going to run the Firenze half-marathon coming up on April 15th.  So needless to say the next 12 weeks are going to be dedicated to serious training and preparation. I have never done anything like this before and still hardly believe that I am going to, but I am more than excited and definitely more than nervous.
That's not me either. At least not yet anyway! Photo courtesy of Fitsugar
But I can't wait until I cross that finish line after 13.1 miles or 20.1 kilometers. Training sessions have been intense but great so far, we'll see how the next few weeks go. Wish me luck! I'll need it!

So needless to say, my relationship with Florence at the moment is all about finding the best running routes and where we can go to increase our mileage and not as much about its art and fashion, at least for the time being anyway.

But for those of you who are runners and who are in Florence or who are planning a visit, check out Walk Jog Run for some great routes posted by locals and visitors.

I love the idea of this challenge and I can already see how it is changing all aspects of my life. I have become more focused and more determined and not just on my workouts, and I can hardly believe I'm going to say this, but I'm also learning how to manage my time more efficiently so that I can get all of my work done and still have time for training. Life is is crazy, but I wouldn't want it any other way!

Are you a runner? Do you have any tips or suggestions for running a half-marathon? How about tips for running a crazy, hectic life? I could use all the help I can get!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Every Girl's Crazy 'bout a Sharp Dressed Man

 This is a post that I have wanted to write for a long time, in fact I have a few blurbs written already that I will pull from and I also have one from a friend who expresses herself so eloquently on the subject.
With the way things are going around here lately, I think its about time to brooch the subject. Between the ever failing government and this most recent tragedy of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship off the Coast of Gilli Island, it is time to talk about Italian men.
Get on the F-ing Ship!!! This has become the new motto in reference to the Italian Government!
I know what the idea is about them in the eyes (of women) of the rest of the world…….

Italian men, ahh, they are so beautiful, tall, dark and handsome, with such style and grace, they always look so elegant and put together. They must be so well organized, motivated and smart.  It’s just so sexy!

Well guess what?  Sorry girls, but I have to do it, really I’m sorry, I hate to burst your “Italian- Men- are- so- Hot” bubble, but if they look that good, chances are its because their Mamma or their WIFE (yeah, that’s right probably married even if they try to pretend otherwise, or they still live at home!) Washed, dried and ironed it for them. Punto. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

So what does this have to do with the government and a sinking ship? Well the Italian government IS a sinking ship, and the Italian men that run it are not willing to man up and take responsibility for it. Why? Well because they’ve never had to take responsibility for anything their entire lives. And I am 100% whole-heartedly convinced that it all begins with their underwear. I cannot tell you how many foreign women I know that are married to or partnered with Italian men who tell me that their significant other has never bought his own underwear or socks for that matter. And I am talking about men well into adulthood. And this is aside from the fact that the average Italian man lives at home until he is in his mid 30’s and then gets married to a nice Italian girl who will take over and continue to iron his p.j’s for him. But she will never buy his underwear because his mamma will still do that.

Ok, and then when he finally does move out and get a wife to take over, what happens now? Well he gets a job doing whatever because his fathers, brother’s, wife’s, brother knows someone who knows someone who can get him the job. He doesn’t necessarily like the job, but it’s ok, he’s not actually going to work anyway. But he’ll be the first to complain when the system or the services don’t function properly.

But the point is that he never really had to go out and look for the job, he didn’t really have to interview or convince anyone that he was qualified for the job, it was just handed to him, just like his underwear.

Ok now let’s talk about his good little wife who is at home making him breakfast, lunch and dinner and ironing his p.j’s. He marries her because, well, she’s pretty, or at least she was at one point in time, or maybe not, but she sure knows how to make a killer sugo, of course never quite as good as his mamma’s but, good enough. And now they have a couple of kids, (boys hopefully, there is actually an expression that is said at Italian weddings to this day regarding boys: Tanti Auguri and Tanti Figili maschi, which means, best wishes and lots of male children) And the wife is at home ironing her husband’s p.j’s and buying underwear for her son’s while her husband is out doing who knows what. Maybe working, but maybe not. Maybe he’s hanging out at a cafĂ© on his lunch break hitting on American tourists, looking all nice in his freshly pressed suit and shiny black shoes.

What does this mean? Well, he has never had to be responsible for buying his own underwear, ironing (or even washing) his own p.j’s or finding a job, or cooking his own meals. Yet we expect that these same men are going to be responsible for successfully running a COUNTRY?????? 

Here is a blurb that was written by a friend of mine about dating in Italy.

It's true. and I'll come out and say it- I blame their mothers. When you're in your mid30s and your mother is ironing your underwear and socks (YES. I am NOT making this up ladies!!) There is a BIG problem here. Two things, when the Italian mother is such a huge part of their lives: they will place you in their mother's role and expect you to do/be the same. And, strangely, they will place you in their mother's role and you will never, ever live up to her. There should be an intense study on Italian men as a requirement for any psyche major.
Ok. But can we really just blame their mother’s? Honestly, I think they’re all at fault a bit here. So you grow up thinking that its ok to let everyone else do everything for you, but come on dude! You’re an adult, don’t you know by now that this is not ok. And seriously Italian Mamma’s teach your son’s to take care of himself. Why do you think you are helping them by doing this??? It’s actually a HUGE disservice. Now they get out there in the “real world” and they have no idea how to take responsibility of ANYTHING!

Just the other day I heard a story about a grown man who happens to be a police officer who lives on his own but the gym he goes to happens to be close to his mother’s house so what does he do? After the gym he takes his gym bag with all of his dirty sweaty clothes and drops them off at his mother’s house and the next time he goes to the gym, guess what? Yup! You got it, first he stops by Mamma’s house and picks-up his gym bag with nice clean gym shorts! Underwear and socks included, and probably ironed!!!! OMG! Italian women, I beg of you, I plead with you, STOP THE INSANITY!!!!!

Ok, now what happens is this. Italian man are used to having everything done for them, everything handed to them and they get married to make sure that well, they will never have to take care of any of these things themselves, but the marriage is not really about love. It’s about convenience, for both parties. Don’t think that oh these poor Italian women they suffer, no, their not stupid, they know what their doing but at the same time, I guess they really don’t have much of a choice, especially since careers for women suck in this country.  Now they have someone to take care of them, financially that is. So there is never really truly, this sense of responsibility in their relationships. There is no sense of responsibility in their relationship with their mother either for that matter, as the above example shows, he doesn’t have to give anything back to her, she just makes sure he doesn’t have to work too hard, because povorino he might get tired! Oh and sometimes he stays for dinner too. 

These Italian women latch onto their son’s in this weird Freudian reverse Oedipus kind of way I imagine because they never really had a mutual, loving, responsible relationship with the person that they married anyway.  I’m telling you people, its bizarre.

So the moral of the story is this, personally I’m not surprised that the captain jumped ship before the passengers. literally and metaphorically.  The Italians themselves have in fact used this story as a metaphor for their government. This country is being run by a bunch of little boys who don't know how to take came of themselves let alone an entire country! But they do have very clean underwear.

Now, do I think ALL Italian men are like this? Of course I don’t, I wouldn’t be married to one if I did. Certainly there are exceptions and the above statements are of course speaking generally about the Italian culture. But I will say that men that leave home and live on their own when they are 19 like my husband did and the coast Guard Captain Gregorio De Falco who told the cruise line captain to get back on the F-ing ship, are the exception, not the rule. 

Do you agree with me? Do you disagree with me? I want to know. Am I missing something here? I want your opinion on this issue! Comment below!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Driving in Italy, Baby You Can Drive My Car, Part II

I have been receiving a lot of messages lately about driving in Florence and Italy in general so I thought it might be time to revisit a post I wrote a little over a year ago on the subject.

"Should we rent a car?" "Can we park in the street?" "Is it better to rent a car then to take the trains and buses?"

No, no and not even close.  Let me take a moment to explain  a little bit about Italian drivers and driving in tiny towns that were once meant for horse and carriage.

First let's start with the Italians themselves. A relaxed, laid back culture enjoying La Bella Vita or La Dolce Vita, in Il Bel Paese. They're never in too much of a rush, they always have a smile on their face (insomma)  and they really know how to eat. All true, yes. Well then that must mean they are relaxed, courteous drivers to, right? Wrong! Totally and completely wrong. Its like something takes over when they get in a car or behind the wheel of a motor vehicle of any kind. It's like they all begin to channel Mario Andretti or Valentino Rossi. It's incredible. Its scary enough just trying to cross the street let alone drive a car amongst them! I know you think your cool and that you can keep up with them, but trust me please, you don't want to try. Remember that they all know where they are going, you don't, they're going to get mad at you and start honking and make you even more nervous. And you don't want to know what they're saying about you, trust me, I sit in the passenger seat in an Italian vehicle, you don't want to know. Ok, so fine you don't care, they can say whatever they want. But that's not the only reason you don't want to drive here....
Seriously something to keep in mind! Trust me, its all true!

Aside from the Italian's being just plain crazy drivers who conventionally forget what they learned at autoscuola,  you are dealing with tiny one way streets that are difficult to navigate, in tiny old cities with thousands of residents who need a place to park their cars. Most cities issue permits to residents only which allows them to park on the street and without that permit you will get parking tickets or even wheel locks if it happens to be street sweeper night.  The city of Florence for example and I'm sure others as well, also have limited traffic zones with cameras set up at each entrance to the historical city center and if you do not have permission to enter these areas, again you will be ticketed. And do not think that the rental companies will issue these permits, they will not, there is a reason why their offices are all located OUTSIDE these limited traffic zones.

I found this video on YouTube and its perfect! I cannot tell you how many times I've seen this kind of thing! This is exactly what you're in for! And who know how many tickets they got for entering the city center! Good thing these guys have a sense of humor about it!

Please believe me when I say this for your own good and for your SANITY! Don't drive in Italy. You'll thank me for it I promise.  The trains and buses are awesome. Check out Trenitalia for a time schedule for all of Italy, you can even purchase tickets online. If your visiting Tuscany check out Sita bus for routes within the region that are simple, quick and run frequently.

You will enjoy your trip so much more if you don't drive! Don't forget to check out the other post about driving on this blog.

Have a story to share about driving in Italy? Let others know about it in the comments section below!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Luci e Ombre/ Light and Shadows by Felice Limosani

As I was walking home last night I caught a glimpse of the ongoing light installation project running here in Florence until Sunday January 15th titled Luce e Ombre or Light and Shadows.  As I was passing the Palazzo Strozzi I could hear the music coming from the courtyard so I popped in the check things out. It was like the building was alive. The facade was pumping and breathing and the vibration of the music was reminiscent of a pounding heart.  I captured a little video on my cell phone and tried to post it but for some reason it doesn't want to work and since I'm not terribly tech savvy, I borrowed a video from YouTube. It was super cool and it will be happening again this evening if you didn't get a chance to check it out yet.

If you liked that video you can find more on YouTube at luci e ombre palazzo strozzi You can also check out the information posted on the Palazzo Strozzi website.

This light and sound installation is the perfect metaphor for the contemporary art scene in Florence.  Light and Shadow, as it certainly is the case that contemporary artists constantly find themselves living in the shadow of the great Renaissance masters.  And while the heart of the Renaissance still beats strong we are constantly trying to bring our new work to light and gain recognition. This particular piece is also interesting to me since the Palazzo Strozzi is one of the most important historic structures in the city, and houses a contemporary art collection and ongoing contemporary art exhibitions. I also love the idea of mixing current day technology with historic, a fantastic juxtaposition of old and new and the incredible difference in the designing and building of structures past and present. I was fascinated by the piece and think I may even go and check it out again this evening. Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012


So we are already 13 days into the New Year and new ideas are popping up every day. It is also now time for me to update the 'about me' section here on my blog because as of January 1, 2012 it was officially 11 years ago that I moved to Florence and in with Luigi. I still can't believe it myself sometimes. 11 years of growing and learning and changing and finding out who I am and what I want to do.  Its been an amazing adventure.

Taken just outside the door of my parents house in L.A
Of course for a Southern California girl these cold dark winters can sometimes effect my mood and my creativity but I know that it is only temporary and that there is so much inspiration around me I can hardly stand it! I do feel big changes coming on this year however and I am trying to be as positive as I can and remind myself, as John Lennon said, 'There is nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be'  and I believe this to be true both physically and creatively. And while it is a bit chilly around here and I am spending much more time indoors I am looking at this down time as an opportunity to re-focus and work on the things that tend to get neglected otherwise.

One of those things was going through all of the photos that I have saved on my computer and on not one, but two, external hard drives. Ever since my husband bought me my beautiful Cannon digital rebel a few years ago, I take photos of everything and anything I see that strikes me. I don't necessarily think of myself as a photographer, but I do think that taking photos helps me to be creative. It's almost like drawing for me. I like to create the composition and subject matter through the lens and I am fascinated with people. All kinds of people. And I try to capture scenes of everyday life and hold on to that moment through the image. So after looking at literally hundreds of photos and trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones were not so good, I  started to think about what I was possibly going to do with them all. And I got to thinking. Well,  lots of people sell their photos on Etsy so why not give it a try? Like I said I don't necessarily consider myself to be a photographer but rather an artist who uses photography has a medium. I am going to try and add at least two new photos per day and build up the collection from there.  I've decided to give it the name When in Florence as well. If you click on any of the images below it will take you into the shop! I figure I can try it out for a while and see what happens. One never knows! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy New Year!

The holidays are over, a new year has begun and resolutions have been made! Let's hope it's a good one, or at the very least better than the last. I am currently working on some new ideas, concepts and designs and hope to be back to posting regularly very soon.  So for the next week or two I will be using the down time to re-think and re-organize. Stay tuned! A presto!

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