Friday, September 10, 2010

Perhaps today you should. . .

...Ride a bike!

Happy Friday.

Monday, September 6, 2010


It is a regular Monday here in Italy but in the States it is Labor Day. Are you shopping all the great sales today? I have one more store to add to your list.

I just love Zara. Do you shop there? It is a Spanish chain that has stores all over Europe and several in the States. I must tell you, their clothes are always exactly what the Europeans are wearing. The prices are amazing, the quality is decent and the style is usually exactly right.

Even a lady I know who is the typical sophisticated Italian, is always, always well dressed and has many of her clothes custom-made, shops at Zara. She says their pants are "well tailored". Once this spring I asked her if she was going out because she had on a fabulous trench and a beautiful silk scarf with perfect hair and make-up. She answered "No, today I just stay home and read." Shouldn't we all look that great to read? Anyway, if she can wear a 40 Euro pair of pants from Zara, we all can.

Zara is always fashion forward and here's the trick according to Wikepedia : "The company can design a new product and have finished goods in its stores in four to five weeks; it can modify existing items in as little as two weeks. If a design doesn't sell well within a week, it is withdrawn from shops, further orders are canceled and a new design is pursued. No design stays on the shop floor for more than four weeks, which encourages Zara fans to make repeat visits. An average high-street store in Spain expects customers to visit three times a year. That goes up to 17 times for Zara.

So, if you want the European look of the moment at a really great price, head to Zara.

image credit:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Italian Antiques

A happy, happy morning at the Italian antiques market. I always look forward to the first weekend of every month when the piazza fills with vintage and antique dealers. There are fabulous finds to browse and buy... from art to jewelry to furniture, and everything in between. My friend went home with the most gorgeous silver bracelet made of antique Italian coins. She says it will be her Christmas present but I don't know how she will be able to wait 3 months to wear it. I'm pretty sure I'd be sneaking it out of its wrapping and wearing it now.

After much thought and a little bargaining, I went home with two antique Italian side tables that I will use next to our bed. We've never had proper nightstands and I'm now glad I waited for the perfect thing.

My bargaining was so good, my husband thought I really didn't want them, even though I had called him to meet me at the market (and bring Euros!) because I found the perfect thing. I was acting like I just wasn't sure and it wasn't exactly what I wanted to get a better price and Matt kept saying "Seriously, do not buy this if you don't want it. Let's keep looking. Why are we even discussing this and why am I here if you don't even like it???" When in reality it was exactly what I wanted. I'm pretty proud of my poker face if even my husband was fooled. Ha!

My tables below

I loved, loved, loved this piece but sadly it was a few inches too tall for next to the bed. Sigh.

these are now happily living in our house

I love the detail on the top. The two tables are similar but the details are different. You can tell they are made by hand and they have a story. To me the buying process is half the fun. Ugg, this could be an expensive new hobby.

When I got them in our house and on each side of the bed, one is much taller than the other. I was so confused because I measured carefully. Turns out, it is the floor on one side of the room that is an inch taller than the other side! That's what you get with a 500 year old house.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Un Altro Fiore (another flower)

I am realizing I've had a lot of posts about flowers. Am I turning into my mother???

Even so, today I am loving all the overflowing window boxes. Love that pop of color in the middle of the city.

This one was taken the morning after we arrived last year. I was so jetlagged I never even noticed the flowers. Actually saw them for the first time when I opened this photo.

Looks like this sad little flower box has been claimed by the cat.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Day in the Life

When we were back in the States, a lot of people asked me about daily life here so I'm thinking of doing a regular post about just that. Today was a rather regular day, but I'll start with today anyway.

Here's your little taste of daily life in Europe...

My 3 year old has started school (just half days this week) but my 6 year old starts in two weeks.

9:00 We walk my youngest to school. When I say we walk to school, don't think a nice tree-lined sidewalk in a sweet suburban neighborhood. No, we are in the middle of the city and it looks more like this

But I absolutely love it. I'll take an urban city over suburbia any day. The energy is fantastic.

9:10 On the way we cut through the courtyard of a church built in the 1500's.

9:15 We walk from school to our regular bar (bar is Italian for sidewalk cafe), passing through our favorite piazza on the way

9:30 Cappuccino and croissants and good conversation with my six year old.

When we are finished we pay and chat with the owner. When I say, chat, I mean I smile and nod and speak caveman Italian while my six year old speaks fluently


We walk down the street to the fruit store where they greet us by name and ask where my youngest is. I tell them what fruit we want (you never touch the fruit here) and they ask if we want to eat it "oggi o domani?" (today or tomorrow?) and select it for us accordingly. You see, the only option is today or tomorrow. The fruit and vegetables are only picked and sold at their peak. They are fabulous. Like eating vegetables out of someone's backyard garden.

11:00 We stop by the bakery on our way home.

Are you hungry yet?

12:00 We go to the little market next to school before picking up my youngest. They know us by name here too and think we are strange because we buy so much milk. The Italians don't drink milk like Americans. Here it is only sold in 1 liter bottles. With two young boys, we go through that in a day. The people working at the grocery store check us out and say "sempre latte, sempre latte" (always milk, always milk)

12:30 We pick up my youngest from school and walk home. I make minestrone with the fresh veggies from this morning.

4:30 After naps we play in the garden for a bit

5:00 My husband is home and we open a bottle of wine

5:30 I start cooking dinner. The Italians think we are crazy for eating at 6:30. They don't even think about dinner until 7:30 or 8:00. My neighbor, who is 76, laughs everytime she sees us going in for dinner so "early"

6:00 Our Italian doctor (and friend) stops by for a bit (thank goodness we are not eating yet) and says what I am cooking smells like a real Italian cook. Yea!

8:00 No babysitter tonight so we are home, the kids are sleeping and I am writing this blog

So what do y'all think? Do you want to hear about daily life or should I stick to the pretty things? Perhaps I'll write again about a more interesting day than today :-)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Perhaps today you should. . .

Walk somewhere