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Pazientina at Amo, Fondaco dei Tedeschi


 
Last year, you may remember, I was in Padua searching for its most famous traditional cake whilst waiting for the rain to stop. It was almost impossible to find the pazientina but a long search led me to one of the last patisseries still making it and the only one I could find. Imagine my surprise then when a few days ago I came across the cake in Venice.

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Florence Market

At the market with Paolo.

 

Have you ever dreamed the Italian dream? Waking up, let’s say in Florence, on a Saturday morning; taking a stroll to the local market to buy fresh produce; making fresh pasta with your own hands; having an aperitivo with friends before sitting down to enjoy the fruits of your culinary labours?

Last week, I was lucky enough to have been invited to live this experience in the capable hands of Eating Europe Food Tours and the Florence Food Studio at their cooking school in the authentic Santo Spirito quarter of the city. You may remember that last year I reviewed their excellent Other Side of Florence tour.

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Bella & Brava

Bella & Brava pizzeria

 

Rather like England’s New Forest, which received that name almost 1,000 years ago, Venice is full of things labeled novo, whose novelty is relative to the age of the city. The most important of these is the Strada Nova (New Street) which since its completion in 1871 has been the main thoroughfare from Venezia Santa Lucia train station (construction began in 1861) to the Rialto area.

Appropriately for a maritime city, the foot traffic on the Strada Nova comes in waves as tourists exit from the trains arriving at the station, and changes direction in the evening as the visitors ebb away.

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calcio storico

Florentine Calcio Storico

 

Last week I was invited by Eating Italy Food Tours to take part in their new guided tour, The Other Side of Florence. The tour covers two quarters of the Oltrarno area, San Frediano and Santo Spirito on the southern side of the river, and area not usually visited by tourists despite their proximity to the city centre. Most people cross the river only to visit the Pitti Palace, or Brancacci Chapel before returning to the bright lights of the northern side of the river. But in the Oltrarno area you find the real Florence: an area which has surprisingly managed to avoid gentrification to retain its character.

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