Happiness is a place: new all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant in town

By: Emma Montross, Marist Italy MA in Museum Studies, 2014-15

Sushi on the conveyor belt. Photo by Allison Boyd, Marist Italy MA 2013-14

Sushi on the conveyor belt. Photo by Allison Boyd, Marist Italy MA 2013-14

After returning from winter break, students living in Marist housing were surprised to find several new stores and restaurants in the San Lorenzo neighborhood. Casa del Puff (a beanbag store) and Mignon (a bakery specializing in cupcakes and American breakfast) unfortunately closed their doors, but as the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens! And those doors came in the form of Carrefour and Wasabi. Carrefour is a wonderful grocery store that this blog post will not focus on because Wasabi, located on Via De Ginori 20/R, is an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant that needs an article written all for itself. With €15 for lunch or €18 for dinner (excluding drinks), you can eat any and everything that comes down the conveyer belt to your heart’s content. If that isn’t target marketing for the hoards of bottomless-stomach students in Florence, I don’t know what is.  Continue reading

Regional Flavors of Italy – Piemonte

Over the next several weeks, Marist Italy will be posting about the gastronomical specialties of the 20 regions of Italy. These guides were created by Alessandra Bianco, Marist Italy MA, 2013-14.

italy_regions_piedmont_mapPiedmont, in the northwest part of Italy and surrounded on three sides by the Alps is home to the city of Turin, known for manufacturing and cars. But this region has more than just mountains, metal, and motors – the food options in Piedmont are endless and delicious. Read on for an overview of what they have to offer!

 

 

 

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Anna Maria Luisa de’Medici, Electress Palatine

On Wednesday, February 18th there will be a free museum day for all civic museums in Florence to honor Anna Maria Luisa de’Medici. Who was she? Read on to find out. 

By: Isaac Carreón, Marist Italy MA in Museum Studies 2014-15

Statue of Anna Maria Luisa de'Medici in the Medici Chapels. Photo by Allison Boyd, Marist Italy MA

Statue of Anna Maria Luisa de’Medici in the Medici Chapels. Photo by Allison Boyd, Marist Italy MA

February marks a special month for Florence. Its importance is not just due to the brisk air that winter brings or the prospects of new or rekindled love with Valentines Day. February is the month that Florentines commemorate the wise woman who gave Florence a gift that can never be repaid: the gift of Florence’s heritage and prospects as a place of tourism. The gift came in the form of an edict titled The Family Pact.

Born August 11, 1667, Anna Maria Luisa de’Medici was the only daughter of Cosimo III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. A very perceptive child, even at a young age, Anna Maria Luisa was doted on by her father and raised by her grandmother, Vittoria della Rovere, whom she favored. Anna Maria Luisa de’Medici’s mother removed herself from the life of her children at a very early age but it seemed that this event did not hinder Anna Maria Luisa’s nurturing characteristics. All throughout her life there are many examples of just how in tune she was to her family and dynastic heritage. One such example of this is how she arraigned a marriage between her brother Gian Gastone de’Medici and Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg, in an effort to secure an heir to the Medicean Dynasty, as well as to improve Gian Gastone’s image and happiness. As a result of Gian Gaston’s hugely unsuccessful marriage, the heir-apparent for the Grand Duchy largely blamed his sister for his unhappiness. Although the relationship between brother and sister soured, she nevertheless tried to improve her brother’s image to the public. While this endeavor proved fruitless, it is possible that before his death Gian Gastone saw the practicality of bequeathing all the Medicean objects, entire art collections, palaces, villas and gems, to his sister.

After the death of her father and brothers, Anna Maria Luisa de’Medici, who at this point was widowed, surviving her husband, Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm, was titled Tuscany’s first lady and the last Medici. She was allowed to remain in the Pitti Palace by the decree of the new Grand Duke, Francis I of the Lorrane, who later became the Holy Roman Emperor. During her twilight years she spent much of her time financing and overseeing the construction of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, a task that was started in 1604 by Ferdinando I de’ Medici. Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici donated much of her fortune to various charities monthly until her death. Her gifts each month totaled an equivalent of $852,000 in present-day terms.

After her work on San Lorenzo and her charitable donations, Anna Maria Luisa de’Medici, the last scion of the Medici dynasty, had one last gift to give: she preserved all Medicean possessions of art, palaces, villas and all other rarities the family collected over their centuries-long influence through the form of an historical edict. Referred to as the “Family Pact”, this decree dictates, among other things, that these treasures must forever be on display in the state of Florence to attract not only people in Italy, but from around the world. Signed and ratified on October 31, 1737, this edict effectively secured the cultural heritage of Florence and made it a mecca of sorts for art historians and fans for centuries to come. This is why on 18th February, the day that Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, Dowager Electress Palatine, died, Florentines celebrate her life by making this day a Free Museum Day for all of the state museums in Florence. I urge everyone to take advantage of this day of gratitude and to kick off their museum excursion by taking the time to visit the Medici Chapels and pay deserved respects to the Electress Palatine who made all this possible. It wont cost you a thing and I promise you will appreciate the other museums all the more.

Rest well, your Serene Highness, Florence is forever grateful for your gift.

Regional Flavors of Italy – Trentino-Alto Adige

Over the next several weeks, Marist Italy will be posting about the gastronomical specialties of the 20 regions of Italy. These guides were created by Alessandra Bianco, Marist Italy MA, 2013-14.

TrentinoIt’s cold in Florence this week, which has us thinking about ski weekends and mountain getaways. While Tuscany does offer ski options, we’re thinking of bigger mountains, like those found in Trentino-Alto Adige, a region in the north of Italy that shares a border with Switzerland and Austria. Formerly a part of Austria-Hungary, this region’s culture is heavily influenced by its roots, and not only are you likely to find many German speakers in this region, you will also see foods that are unlike those found in other areas of Italy.  Continue reading

Regional Flavors of Italy – Emilia Romagna

Over the next several weeks, Marist Italy will be posting about the gastronomical specialties of the 20 regions of Italy. These guides were created by Alessandra Bianco, Marist Italy MA, 2013-14.

2000px-Emilia-Romagna_in_Italy.svgParma, Modena, Bologna – what do all these places have in common? They are all cities with famous foods associated with them in the region of Emilia-Romagna, our next stop on our food tour through Italy. Many, both inside and outside of Italy, would argue that the best of the best in Italian cuisine comes from this region, and in fact, as you read through this post, you’ll see many familiar, spectacular, and delicious items.  Continue reading

Regional Flavors of Italy – Umbria

Over the next several weeks, Marist Italy will be posting about the gastronomical specialties of the 20 regions of Italy. These guides were created by Alessandra Bianco, Marist Italy MA, 2013-14.

UmbriaNext in our series is the region of Umbria, Tuscany’s neighbor to the southeast. Umbria, a small region with great tastes, has enough variety to satisfy all palates. This landlocked region is a home to one of the most valued and sought after food items in the world, as well as the other famous chocolate kiss. Read on to find out what culinary treasures await you in Umbria.  Continue reading

Regional Flavors of Italy – Abruzzo

Over the next several weeks, Marist Italy will be posting about the gastronomical specialties of the 20 regions of Italy. These guides were created by Alessandra Bianco, Marist Italy MA, 2013-14.

Abruzzo_in_ItalyNext in our series is the region of Abruzzo. Though perhaps not as famous as its regional neighbor to the west, Lazio, this geographically central but culturally southern Italian region has a culinary scene that features some very well known foods and wines, as well as spectacular beaches on the Adriatic Sea and  mountains to the west, including the famous Gran Sasso d’Italia. Which of these regional specialties would you pick on a visit to Abruzzo?  Continue reading

Regional Flavors of Italy – Veneto

Over the next several weeks, Marist Italy will be posting about the gastronomical specialties of the 20 regions of Italy. These guides were created by Alessandra Bianco, Marist Italy MA, 2013-14.

VenetoNext in our series is the region of Veneto. With its famous capital city of Venice and magical Verona within its borders, Veneto is widely known outside of Italy. Visitors flock to this region (and especially Venice) to celebrate Carnival, leave wishes for Juliet and travel the canals, and perhaps acquire a Venetian mask or some glass from Murano. But what about the food? Though Venice often gets a bad rap for catering to tourists only, this region is full of wonderful options. With this guide, hopefully you can visit Veneto and leave with a satisfied and full belly…  Continue reading

A Fall Break Experience

By Maria Bellardino, Marist Italy FFE 2014-15

Photo by Maria Bellardino

Photo by Maria Bellardino

Studying abroad in Italy gives students many opportunities to travel. Florence is beautiful, but sometimes it’s nice to get away for a couple days. Italy is close to many other countries and the easy ways to get there include trains, budget airlines, and even by boat. It is nice to be able to travel to a different country like France or Germany for the weekend or travel for an extended period of time like the refreshing ten day fall break Marist gives students. My destination of choice for fall break was Greece. I worked my way from Italy down to Corfu, through to Athens, and ending in Santorini.  Continue reading

A Spiritual Connection with Papa Francesco

By Emma Montross, Marist Italy MA 2014-15

Photo by Emma Montross

Photo by Emma Montross

On Sunday, November 16th I was fortunate enough to, for a price, travel on a Lorenzo de’Medici-sponsored trip to Vatican City for the Papal Angelus. For those who do not know, as I did not before attending this event, the Papal Angelus is a weekly occurrence in which Papa (Italian for Pope) addresses the crowd in Piazza di San Pietro from the papal apartments above the square. The Angelus usually includes a reading from the Bible with a short reflection, and then he, with the crowd, prays the Angelus Domini. Papa Francesco wraps up his fifteen-minute address by greeting pilgrims and tourists alike below in various languages. He blesses the crowd and any holy objects visitors may have with them (who doesn’t need a little bit of extra help to get through finals?). In addition to walking away with a flawless gift in the form of a blessed rosary for my grandmother, I left with a distinct sense of awareness.  Continue reading