What I saw on a Sunday walk in the hills outside of Florence

Last Sunday was beautiful; it was sunny, not too hot, and I found myself deep within the hills outside of Fiesole.  I love these random wanderings and the things I see.

It’s hunting season now and wild boar is a usual casualty.  Florentines love dining on these cinghiale, and I saw this advertisement in an osteria making good use of the hunt.



The colors of fall on the trees are just beginning to reveal themselves in these lovely hills,  but pyracantha is almost shining, it is so bright. Very pretty!



Edible crops are alive and well in the hills near Fiesole, and I never, ever tire of seeing pomegranate trees bearing fruit.



The olive harvest this year looks to be very good and I encountered many trees heavily laden with these green fruit.




There are olive orchards all through these hills, but there are also fig trees, plum trees and, as below, plenty of apple trees.



I loved looking at this particular apple tree and I will admit that I was sorely tempted to climb the ladder that was already in place to access the apples high up.  I contained myself and didn’t do it!



The views and vistas on all sides of me were attractive and beckoning.  Another day I’ll climb other of these hills.


In the village of Fiesole itself I smiled when I saw this sign.  “Whoever takes a dog on a walk is responsible for the dog’s comportment.”  Hear hear!


Stop and think: the handkerchief


Today everyone uses disposable paper tissues and almost all mothers carry them in their handbags for everyone in the family to use.

But, what preceded the lowly “kleenex?”

Well, according to Professor M. Fanfani, the handkerchief was invented in Italy, just like the fork and the napkin.  I tend to think that the napkin and handkerchief both were created in various cultures because humans need these objects and surely someone would have thought of a good product solution.


But readers know I love all things Italian and so of course I am going to go along with the professore and accept the fact that while various cultures no doubt had their own objects for cleaning the face and nose, the first rarified version no doubt was of Italian origin.  Most good things were. :-)


So, let’s read and consider his thesis on the handkerchief.




The use of the handkerchief, like that of the fork and napkin, was born in Italy and its use had more to do with the prestige of its possession, than its strictly hygienic reasons.



As with so many details about life in Italy, paintings from the period give us a window into the daily life of some Italians.

In the works of Ghirlandaio, an attentive chronicler of the Florentine costume, this delicate accessory is a standout.

Handkerchiefs were rare and expensive; for example, we know that King Henry IV had only five of them in 1594.

We learn that blowing one’s  nose with the handkerchief (instead of with your fingers, or with the wide sleeves of a shirt) was a refined sign of nobility or high social standing.




Ghirlandaio often recorded in paint the upper bourgeoisie in Florence. The possession and showing of an embroidered kerchief indicated status.

Who knew?



This text (which I’ve modified in English) appeared on a Facebook post recently
written by Prof. M: Fanfani.

La vendemmia: the grape harvest

It’s that time again!  Grape harvest all over the vineyards in Italia!

(And the news is excellent coming from France too:) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/french-champagne-makers-record-harvest-quality-grapes-vintage-wine-a8507911.html


The word “vendemmia” comes from the Latin words “vinum” (wine) and “demere” (take away).
In the past, grapes were picked either directly by hand or with the help of small knifes or scissors. The grapes were put in baskets, made of wicker or wood, and later they were moved into larger wood containers “tini” or vats, which were used for the crushing.
As most Americans will remember, Lucille Ball excelled at stomping grapes when she visited Italy on I Love Lucy.
Indeed, the crushing was done using the feet of the workers or with some special wooden sticks called “ammostatori,”  shaped like baseball bats.
The ammostatori were often used in small containers, while for larger and taller vats, ladders were used by workers, descending from the top.

In the common imagination the idea of feet crushing is well rooted, a ritual still done by some wine estate just because it keeps a sort of ancient fascination.



(Foto proveniente dall’archivio privato della famiglia Colombini. -1945, Neutro Martini, guardiacaccia della Fattoria dei Barbi, con un bigonzo di uva in spalla durante la vendemmia nella vigna dei podernovi.)

— at Museo Della Comunità Di Montalcino E Del Brunello.

Personally, I’ve spent some time recently in the rows of grape vines heavy with pendant grapes. What a treat to be in Chianti at the time of la vendemmia!

All aboard! Tram from Florence to San Casciano, 1891

A proposito di tranvia, 1891 inaugurazione della tratta Firenze -San Casciano. La tranvia fu principalmente voluta da Emanuele Orazio Fenzi, banchiere ed esponente di una famiglia con interessi ne campo ferroviario, e da Sidney Sonnino, uomo politico rappresentante in parlamento nel collegio del Chiant.



A picture of the 1891 inauguration of the Florence-San Casciano tram-way. The tram was built primarily thanks to Emanuele Orazio Fenzi,   banker and from a family with railway interests, and Sidney Sonnino, representative in parliament in the Chianti college.