Jacquie and Lee Bouvier meet Bernard Berenson in Florence in 1951

This is just something I never would have believed had happened, but it apparently did. It is discussed in a very interesting book on Berenson by Rachel Cohen, which I quote below. Lee Radziwill left her impression of the sophisticated but very much older Berenson:

“Nicky Mariano [Berenson’s amour and assistant) was sometimes jealous…of Berenson’s flirtations and affairs and of the great many women who made up what she called ‘B.B.’s Orchestra.’ “

In fact, as he aged, Berenson’s seductive power became somewhat legendary. Lee Radziwill (Lee Bouvier when she visited Berenson in 1951 with her sister, who became Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) still thought of Berenson as “one of the most fascinating men I ever knew,” sixty years later. She compared his powerful appeal to Jawaharlal Nehru’s: they were “seductive mentally, rather than physically.”


Berenson’s catalog of mistresses and of epistolary romances, like all his other collections, was exhaustive. He had first found both sexual tolerance and a large network of youthful romantic friendships with women and men in bohemian and Edwardian circles, and among the expatriates in Italy.


In the years of his maturity, he found a similar atmosphere among his mistresses and flirtations in the aristocratic milieu of the European art world. Berenson adored, and was adored by, titled women, and he was interested in beauty wherever he saw it. Attractive young women who visited I Tatti were regularly surprised by his physical attentions.


Rachel,Cohen. Bernard Berenson (Jewish Lives) (p. 201). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

Botticelli’s plant world

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conservato agli Uffizi, non faccia accenno al fatto che Botticelli vi ha rappresentato centinaia di esemplari tra fiori, arbusti, erbe, alberi e vegetali in generale. Una così cospicua presenza di piante risponde a diverse esigenze: la prima è ovviamente circoscrivere il periodo dell’anno oggetto dell’opera, perché le specie rappresentate da Botticelli, com’è lecito immaginare, fioriscono, crescono e germogliano tutte in primavera. La seconda è suggerire rimandi simbolici: in tal modo si spiega, per esempio, la presenza degli alberi d’arancio che sì presentano le loro zagare, i fiori bianchi tipici degli agrumi, ma sono anche carichi di frutti, quando è noto che l’arancio dà i suoi frutti verso la fine dell’autunno. L’arancio è infatti un emblema mediceo: facile comprendere perché se si conosce la denominazione latina citrus medica, che oggi designa scientificamente il cedro ma che anticamente, almeno secondo il botanico ottocentesco Giorgio Gallesio, era utilizzata per indicare anche l’arancio. Inoltre, l’agrume è anche simbolo di matrimonio, perché secondo la mitologia antica la dea Giunone avrebbe donato al marito Giove piante d’arancio come dote nuziale. Se peraltro si prende per buona la pur discussa datazione che vorrebbe la Primavera dipinta nel 1482, la realizzazione dell’opera cadrebbe nell’anno del matrimonio tra Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici e Semiramide Appiani.



Aka gelsomino in italiano.

In any language, I love this hardy plant!  Below is my new pot filled with this very fragrant vining shrub.



And, here is gelsomino growing next door to my building:  wow, I can’t wait for mine to grow!  Just walking down the street near these flowers is like being in a garden!


“Betta getta Vespa,” the history of the Vespa in 10 pictures

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The Italian brand of scooter, the iconic Vespa, is manufactured by Piaggio. The name means wasp in Italian. The Vespa has evolved from a single model motor scooter manufactured in 1946 by Piaggio & Co. to a full line of scooters and one of seven companies today owned by Piaggio.

From their inception, Vespa scooters have been known for their painted, pressed steel unibody which combines a complete cowling for the engine (enclosing the engine mechanism and concealing dirt or grease), a flat floorboard (providing foot protection), and a prominent front fairing (providing wind protection) into a structural unit.

Post World War II Italy, in light of its agreement to cessation of war activities with the Allies, had its aircraft industry severely restricted in both capability and capacity.

Piaggio emerged from the conflict with its Pontedera fighter plane plant demolished by bombing. Italy’s crippled economy and the disastrous state of the roads did not assist in the re-development of the automobile markets. Enrico Piaggio, the son of Piaggio’s founder Rinaldo Piaggio, decided to leave the aeronautical field in order to address Italy’s urgent need for a modern and affordable mode of transportation for the masses.

A masterpiece was born!


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An early Vespa poster above.



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The UK is Vespa’s second largest market, see above.

For more on Vespa, see: