Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Throw together Italian night

Tessa Kiros' Twelve cookbook has been my go to for simple meals.  Her Spaghettini aglio, olio e peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, and chili) seems to go with everything you might have on hand in the house.  The sauce recipe calls for 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 cloves of diced garlic, a handful of chopped parsley (fresh is called for, although dried seems fine to me), and 3 small crumbled red chilis (I use a couple of shakes of the dried chilis from the shaker).  That's it.  You can add some peas or halved cherry tomatoes to the sauce at the very end.   Then toss it with whatever pasta you have in the cupboard.  My husband always loves it and it is super easy! 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Private Tours - Palazzo Vecchio

Florence is expensive.  Even the churches have admission fees.  One good deal we found was the free guided tour of the Palazzo Vecchio (included in the price of admission).  They are in English or Italian and all focus on various aspects of the Medici family’s reign of power.  The palace has secret passages and eavesdropping rooms behind hidden doors.  It's pretty cool.

We took the tour that included the map room's secret passageway to Bianca’s eavesdropping chamber. Bianca was the mistress, and later the wife, of Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici.  He respected her opinion so much that he built her an eavesdropping chamber over the Salone dei Cinquecento, where important government matters were discussed.  The peep hole is disguised as an air vent and gives you a great bird's eye view of the salon.  

There are other tours of the patrol path (the crenulated area around the top) and also a "secret passages" tour.  They also have workshops for kids and actors in period costumes.  Check it out here.