December 2023 News from Elizabeth
Florence, Paris and Martinis
Winter is definitely one of my favorite times of the year in Rome. I don’t mind the short days, and usually try to get out for my walk in time to see the sunset. But even if it’s dark, I don’t care. This year the sparkling lights started going up the day after Thanksgiving (even though Thanksgiving is definitely not a holiday here.) And so far, there seems to be more lights than past years around town. This despite the fact that Rome’s main tree - fondly nicknamed ‘Baldy’ after a few particularly sorry looking trees - has been banished from Piazza Venezia due to construction. It will be at the other end of Via del Corso in Piazza della Repubblica. I’ll go see it once it’s lit on December 8.
Decorations are a bit different in our house too this year. This is mostly because Emma (daughter number 2) has declared many of my over the top decorations too, well, over the top. She explained patiently that even though I own 15 strings of lights, it doesn’t mean they all have to go up all over the house. She actually told me that I was turning into Grammy (my mother) whose passion for decorating for the holidays extends to themed socks, jewelry and sweatshirts. I guess this means I’m not supposed to wear my wreath and snowman earrings?
But since I am making a quick trip to the States next week, I am going to shop for holiday themed paper napkins. Because they make me happy and because the fact that I’m turning into my mom makes me happy too.
Our tours are officially over until next March. This is definitely the time when Sophie and I have more time to ourselves. Time to travel (Sophie is off to Mexico later this month) but also time to just stay home. After two months on the road, just sitting on the couch for a few weeks, looking at our Christmas tree, sounds pretty good.
But we also are busy working and planning new tours. I never thought I would organize a week long tour in Florence, but I was chatting with a good friend there and he’s convinced me to work on it with him. It will definitely be off season when the crowds have left. This also means it might be chilly, moody and empty: exactly the kind of Florence I love. Did you know I used to live in Florence? Although a lot has changed there, I’m always surprised by how much things have stayed the same. Same little stores, out of the way bars and trattorie. That’s my kind of Florence.
We’ve also been rolling out the final tours for 2024. Many are already sold out, but we’ve just added two new weeks to Puglia in the fall. Let us know if you’d like to receive brochures.
Salento & Central Puglia with Sophie September 15-21
Puglia & Basilicata with Sophie September 30 - October 5
*************************************************** S P E C I A L H O L I D A Y O F F E R ***************************************************
We still have a handful of spots on the following tours for Spring 2024. If you and another person sign up for 2 spots on one of the tours mentioned below by the end of December 2023, we will apply a 5% discount for each of you. Use the code ‘TRAVELWITHAFRIEND’ . Offer expires December 31, 2023. (good for both double or single occupancy)
Puglia & Basilicata with Sophie March 11-16
Salento & Central Puglia with Elizabeth April 21-27
Palermo with Sophie April April 28 - May 4
Puglia & Basilicata with Sophie May 27-June 2
(if this button doesn’t work for you send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
WHERE I’VE BEEN
FLORENCE Speaking of enjoying the off season in Florence, Domenico and I went up for a night last week. I am a big believer in taking short breaks that feel like real vacations. We splurged and stayed here, and had a cozy impromptu dinner here. The reason we made the trip up was to spend time with my friend Rolando who organized a wonderful ‘Tuscgiving’ at this restaurant and invited us over for lunch at his adorable apartment the next day.
PARIS We also took a longer ‘real’ vacation to Paris last month, to help my sister celebrate her birthday. In case any of you are headed there, here follows a list of where we ate and slept and what we saw.
Hotel Dames des Arts - this was recommended by my friend Lindsey and was perfect. Situated in the 6th, it was very conveniently located. It has a very laid back, slightly hipsterish, vibe. The rooms are very affordable for Paris, and many of them have terraces with incredible views of the Eiffel Tower.
Ellsworth - Creative market driven food in a cozy setting.
Semilla - Great place that is conveniently located in the 6th and open on Sundays
Le Frank - The restaurant in the Foundation Louis Vuitton is a great place for lunch after seeing an exhibit
Liza - We had a gorgeous feast of Lebanese mezze.
Musée Cognacq-Jay - I always love museums located in historical houses. This one displays the collection of the founder of the department store Le Samaritaine.
Rothko - This exhibit is at the Fondation Louis Vuitton until April 2. It was profoundly moving.
Maison Victor Hugo - A tiny museum in the Marais, located a the home where Victor Hugo lived for 16 years.
More Paris: here is a past post from 9 years ago, most of which is still current because Paris doesn’t really change
WHAT I’M READING
I love the idea of learning a new craft while on holiday.
Evidently leftover pasta is good for you.
I want every single thing on this gift list from Go Love NY
Tried and failed to like The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store. I stopped a third of the way in. Instead I am reading and loving the latest from Michael Connelly. Sometimes you just need a straightforward crime book, right?
WHAT I’M EATING
Spaghetti with Cheese and Spinach was definitely a random clean out the fridge recipe but one I’ll be repeating on purpose.
This pasta e ceci was a winner for a recent family dinner.
How did I not know about (or how did I forget about) these incredible salted olive oil brownies.
WHAT I’M DRINKING
I get so many requests for how I make my martini, I thought I’d leave you with a few options. I definitely evolve in how I like my martini. The method usually remains the same (you can find it here and here is a video I did a while back) but these days sometimes I choose gin and sometimes vodka. Always 2 oz of either. Vermouth or no vermouth? Lately I like about a 1/2 tsp of dry white vermouth.
The variations come in the garnish and/or brine or bitters. This is where I can be a bit creative. And by creative I mean use whatever I happen to find in the refrigerator. Here are some of my recent combos:
2 oz gin/ vermouth/caper brine/ capers and anchovies for garnish
2 oz gin/ vermouth/ bell pepper brine/ pickled red peppers for garnish / tabasco
2 oz vodka/vermouth/ pickled onions and green olives for garnish/ celery bitters
Thank you all for accompanying me during my potato chip phase/journey. While I haven’t completely given up on chips, I have decided to make an effort to go a bit more healthy/local. With this in mind our nibble of choice is fried chick peas or fave beans, salted toasted almonds or multigrain taralli. Unless of course I want chips.
If you’re looking the perfect holiday gift perhaps one of our books will do? You’ll find links for all of them here
Or perhaps you’d like to gift a subscription to this newsletter to someone?
Or if you’re feeling particularly generous, you can always surprise someone with a gift of a trip to Italy. If you sign up for two spots on one of our Spring 2024 trips, you will get 5% off. (offer good until the end of December)
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