Help Bring Marilyn Monroe Home To The USA From Italy

by Mario 13-Mar 2013

This appeal is going to sound a bit odd from someone who is neither an avid museum goer, a fashion flower nor celebrity buff. Perhaps it's all the more interesting. A few months ago I was taken on an afternoon conference break, with a slew of other foreign travel buyers to see the Marilyn exhibit at the Ferragamo Shoe Museum in Florence. It was designed as an hour to kill after lunch.

Sixty minutes later, with tears running down my cheeks, I approached the woman who was acting as the guide — but who possesed far more passion than any ordinary guide — and in my abrupt American fashion blurted out: "Who are you? Are you the person who sells this dream?" The answer was: "Yes, but we are not done yet. Please, follow me." The grand finale was a jaw dropper. When everyone left, I lingered behind to ask the "guide", a director level official: "When is Marilyn coming to the United States?" She sadly replied: "She's not". The exhibit in Florence ends at the beginning of April and opens in Prague from May through August 2013. Then, that's it. After Prague, once all the pieces go back to their respective museums and private collections, it's a lot harder to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Let's back up. Aside from the shoes, clothes, pictures, sound, film and writings of Marilyn, masterfully presented in a Fellini dreamlike sequence, the genius is in how it's all done. Here's Marilyn in an all too familiar pose next to an even more famous painting or sculpture hundreds or thousands of years older in the exact same position. This is art, universal and timeless. A tragic American icon and an ephemeral Greek, Roman or Renaissance nymph, goddess and madonna become indistinguishable, nearly interchangeable! The presentation is nonetheless filled with drama and controversy. It's an emotional roller coaster. No matter the forewarning, jaws will drop aplenty.

The Ferragamo Museum is a true accredited museum and separate from the Ferragamo brand. Once a stateside museum does get involved, the brand may surely want to sponsor a great deal of things. But until then it does not get involved.

So, if you want to help:
Step 1. Get infected. Visit Marilyn in Florence this month (March 2013) or in Prague in May.
Step 2. Once you see it, you'll agree that wherever Marilyn lands in the USA there will be day-long lines for blocks.
Step 3. Six degrees of separation. What's needed are introductions between interested museums here and Marilyn's mentors there.

I have returned to Florence three times in as many months, with more trips to come, on Parker business. Each time, I try to move the dream along. We have already established some contacts on Marilyn's behalf from ambassadorial levels on down. With your added help we maybe can get her home soon. If you are serious and have the right contacts, I'm quite easy to reach and can open the doors there.

Eurochocolate 2012: Perugia’s Confectionary Celebration

by Admin 18-Oct 2012

Nine delicious days of everything chocolate—October 19-28—draw chocolate lovers from all over the world to lovely Perugia, an Umbrian hill town whose history dates back to the Etruscans. It’s also the birthplace of Italy’s famed Baci, the chocolate kisses made by Perugina Chocolates.

For the past 19 years, the town has welcomed professional chocolatiers, bakers, and artisans who, in turn, create a confectionary wonderland for all ages. Vendor tents line the streets and lace together the piazzas in Perugia’s historic center. Chocolate-making demonstrations, tastings, art, and non-stop live music are all part of the experience. More than a half million visitors joined in the tasty fun last year. If you’re lucky to be anywhere in the region, don’t miss the chance to attend this deliciously unique Italian, festival. Here are some of the anticipated highlights:

Chocolate sculptures
Sunday, October 21 - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Imagine what Michelangelo would have done with 11 tons and 141 square feet of Perugina Nero chocolate! For one amazing day, Central Perugia’s Corso Vannucci turns into a veritable sculpture gallery, revealing fantastic creations by teams of Italians sculptors. This year’s theme is: 100 Years of Baci Perugina.

The Chocolate Show
Daily 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. (until 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday)
This grand chocolate emporium is choc-full of artisans, purveyors, and boutiques that elevate the dark and the light sides of the mighty cocoa bean into blissful confections and concoctions that are among the tastiest—and most beautiful—in the world.

Chocolate Tastings – Omaggi
Daily at 4 p.m.
Every afternoon visitors have the chance to sample nibble-size goodies—omaggi— offered by the prominent participating chocolatiers. Cioccolati d’Italia, voted the best “Made in Italy” chocolate, is this year’s special guest.

For Kids
Numerous events dedicated to children take place throughout the festival. An annual favorite is ABC Chocolate, where kids can create little chocolate masterpieces in special molds—cioccorelli—and take them home. In the I Pasticcione test kitchen, supervised by chefs, children make little cookies dipped in chocolate.

Chocogadget Gift Shop
Open daily - 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. (until 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday)
Taking “gift shop” to a whole new flavor! This year’s design highlights include: Choco lamps, iChoc smartphone and tablet cases and covers; Choco Heart USBs; Chocoumbrellas (no, they won’t melt in the rain); Choco Pill Boxes and so much more!!

WEBSITE: Eurochocolate (in Italian) 

Planning to attend the next Eurochocolate?
Parker Villas’ large “Passo d’Elefante” (8 bedrooms/9 bathrooms) is a bon bon of a villa, designed for indoor and outdoor fun. With a sunny swimming pool and games room, it’s perfect for a few families who’d like to share a vacation home. Beautiful Perugia, chocolate and all, is just 20 minutes away by car.

Museo Ferragamo—Famous Footwear, Italian-Style

by Admin 17-Oct 2012

There is no limit to beauty, no saturation point in design, no end to the material.
                                                                       Salvatore Ferragamo


Shoes = Scarpe; footwear in general = calzature

Second only to the Catholic Church and probably tied with la mamma and spaghetti in national importance, shoes are to Italian cultural identity what designer jeans are to the Americans.

It’s not just the fashion statement a shoe makes, however ... it’s how the shoe fits that makes Italian shoes the gold standard in footwear. We have no doubt Cinderella’s glass slipper was “Made in Italy.”

After Rome’s sandal manufacturing business—for gladiators, senators, et al—tapered off, Florence rose to power as the shoe design capital of Europe. Generations of fine shoemakers have kept the fashion renaissance current and the styles in demand around the world. If one name stands out in recent history, it has to be Salvatore Ferragamo, creator of the cork wedge and purveyor of gorgeous footwear to Hollywood’s leading ladies of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn , and Marilyn Monroe among them.

Salvatore’s interest in ladies shoes started as a young lad in Naples, where he apprenticed to a shoemaker at the age of 11. Two years later he had his own shop in nearby Bonito, and at 14 he set sail for America, joining his brother at a footwear company in Boston. Right away he saw that the modern, mass-producing machinery had its limitations and he moved to Santa Barbara, California to join another brother. With the rise of Hollywood and cinema, Salvatore began to design shoes for the industry while attending the university in Los Angeles and studying human anatomy and mathematics. His goal was to design a “shoe which fits perfectly.” In 1923 he opened the Hollywood Boot Shop and began “building” his made-to-measure shoes for individual movie stars. It launched him as an unparalleled designer. When the demand was so high that he couldn’t keep up, he returned to Italy, to Florence, where making shoes by hand was the tradition. From here, he exported his shoes to the U.S., personally supervising the handiwork of his skilled employees. The rest, of course, follows the heels of history, and even now, more than 50 years after his death, the Ferragamo shoe is legend.

The Palazzo Spini Feroni, which faces the Arno River on Via Tornabuoni, was built in 1289 by Geri Spini, a merchant and banker to Pope Boniface VIII. Ferragamo purchased the building in 1938, establishing company headquarters and his workshop here. The Italian flagship store, for both footwear and fashion, is also located in the palazzo. In 1995 the Ferragamo family opened the Museo Ferragamo, located on the basement level, to the public. The collection on display encompasses Salvatore’s designs from 1927, when he returned to Italy, until his death in 1960. Lovers of footwear and fashion in general—in fact, even all-occasion, no-nonsense athletic shoe wearers— are in for a real treat.

Salvatore’s technical achievements in the business and his dedication to fitting the foot properly are exemplary, not to mention the attention to fabrics and materials chosen for the aesthetic component: silver, gold, and bejeweled leather straps; brilliantly colored, embroidered silks; studded heels; and the famous cork wedge, which made yet another return to international foot fashion just this past year. There are the practical styles, or, in the case of Salvatore, the stylishly practical ... the flamboyant, which seem more appropriate to characters from far-eastern folktales ... and there are even shoes made from candy wrapper paper during material shortages during World War II. The exhibits rotate and draw from the 10,000-plus models housed in the archives.

SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS
There is almost always something special going on at Museo Ferragamo, too. Now through January 28, 2013, a major exhibition titled simply, “Marilyn,” pays tribute to the diva 50 years after her death. A series of iconic portraits, taken by numerous famous photographers, are juxtaposed to famous works of art—where Marilyn's poses and expressions reflect those such as Botticelli’s Venus, for example.

Details:
Museo Ferragamo
Palazzo Spini Feroni, Florence
(Entrance at 5 Piazza Santa Trinita)

Hours: Wednesday through Mondays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays and December 25, January 1, May 1, and August 15.

Tickets:
5 €. All Museum admission proceeds are donated annually to finance scholarships for young footwear designers.

Planning a vacation in Florence?
Parker Villas' "Casa della Santa" apartment, located in the historic heart of Florence, is perfect for one couple, and comfortably cozy for two. Save on your stay by sharing and treat yourself to some fabulous shopping (located right around the corner)!

 

Aperto/Chiuso: Opening Hours in Italian Time

by Admin 04-Oct 2012

That 24/7 thing we’ve come to take for granted here in the U.S.? Not so much in Italy. La dolce vita wouldn’t be quite so sweet if that were the case. Especially when such a large part of its charm lies in the pleasures of savoring a long lunch with friends or colleagues... of tending to business after your morning cappuccino... of doing something else when you actually can’t go shopping. In Italy, this break time is called riposo, which is akin to a Spanish siesta, and absolutely vital to the (emotional) well being of the entire nation—and therefore yours.

So, for travelers wondering how to be efficient in a country that isn’t always... Yes, you can plan your days to maximize your time so that you can both see what you came to see, but also experience the unexpected enchantments that Italy offers—and which we long for, long after we’ve returned to our very convenient lifestyle.

All of that said, we do agree that frustration and utter disbelief at the non-efficiency of our favorite country is also part of the journey, though a lesser part of the charm. To make it a bit easier to take, below are some practical guidelines. (We said “guidelines.” This is not Switzerland.) And for these purposes we’d like to replace “Have a nice day” with: “Stay flexible.” Which, ultimately, will help you have a nice day. Smile

Dizionario = Dictionary

Aperto = Open

Chiuso = Closed
Giorni feriali (or just feriali), means Monday through Friday
Giorni festivi (or just festivi) means Sundays and holidays
 
• First, Italy uses the 24-hour clock: 12:a.m. to 12:00 noon; 13:00 to 23:59 (1 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.)

• Second, There is no “daily” on the Italian timetable for stores, supermarkets, local bakeries, and clothing stores. Hours vary according to the day of the week. Look for the l'orario, which indicates and the aperto-chiuso hours.

• Most stores are open between 8:30/9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. when they close for riposo. Most stores reopen from 3:30/4 p.m. until 7:00/9:00 p.m.

• You know you've hit the jackpot when the sign reads: orario continuo—these establishments never close for lunch.
 
Clothing stores: Many clothing stores are closed on Monday “mornings” (until afternoon hours of 3:30/4 p.m. Some might be closed on Mondays altogether. Look for the orario.
 
Local grocery stores: Many are closed on Monday or Wednesday afternoons (in Rome, they close on Thursday afternoons).

 
Restaurants: Most will be closed on Sunday evenings, and either Monday or Tuesday. Italians like to have lunch around 1 p.m. The kitchen is usually open between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. The national dinnertime in Italy begins around 8. Restaurant kitchens are open from about 7 to 10:30 p.m.
 
Caffè Bar: These usually open at 5:30/6 a.m. Cafés and snack bars stay open all day until about 6 or 7 p.m. Bars (where you can get both un caffè, un aperitivo, and un digestivo) stay open throughout the evening, often until midnight or 1 a.m.. Bars that serve primarily alcoholic drinks and stay open late are strangely called American Bar.

 
Banks: Open 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and from 3 to 4 (sometimes 5) p.m. Some banks are open Saturday mornings from 9 to 1:30. Check the orario. ATMS, called Bancomats, are common and available 24 hours.

Museums: Major sights remain open all day from 8/9 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Minor ones often close around 3 p.m. Many are closed on Mondays.


Churches: Open 6:30/ 8 a.m. until 5/7 p.m. If you’re not going to mass on Sunday mornings, it’s not a good time for a visit to look at the artwork; you can go in after 1 p.m.
 
Mondays: Try to avoid having Monday be the only day of your trip where you can sightsee, especially in a major city or tourist area. Most museums and many restaurants are closed.
 
Travel Tip: Avoid some of the longer lines at star attractions by waiting until 1 p.m. when even the tourists go for lunch. You may not have the place to yourself, but you might be able to actually view the art. A good way to tell if you won’t have to wait long for entry at a famous monument or museum is to look for the tour buses... If they’re not there, you should be!

Two major exceptions to these tips are the mega supermarkets (ipermercati) that stay open continuously throughout the day, usually until 9 p.m. Some even have Sunday hours. As a last resort, you can always get a meal, a coffee, gas or some victuals any day from dawn to 11 p.m. at dozens of Autogrill found all along the Italian highway system, provided you are inclined to pay the toll to get on a major highway. See blog post Driving In Italy part 4 — Autostrade Rest Areas.

Firenze Card — Access to the Best Museums in Florence, Italy

by Mario 30-Mar 2011

The city of Florence finally released the long awaited Firenze Card that allows access to the 33 most important museums, chapels and art galleries in the city. It also provides free passage on the city's public transit system. Priced at 50 Euro, the Florence card may be purchased online and picked up at one of five collection points in the city.

While the card is a great deal for passionate lovers of art, it may not be ideal for everyone. The moment you swipe your Florence Card at the first museum turnstile the countdown begins. The Florence Cards will expire in 72 hours and the chase is on. Remember, most museums in Florence are closed on Mondays and some are closed Sundays as well. There must be some connection between Italian museums, barber shops and this Monday closing thing that eludes me.

The Firenze Card site is easy to navigate and you will discover that the card also allows access to special exhibitions and events. In some cases you may even be able to bypass lines. A silly benefit that comes with the Florence Card is free admission, when accompanied by a valid cardholder, to a European Citizen aged 18 or under — maybe it's an inducement for adoption?

The greatest benefit will go to those who can carefully plot their entire course and slide into the last museum two minutes before the card gives up the ghost. It's kind of like fasting for days before attending the all you can eat buffet. Unfortunately, museums are not open 24 hours a day, that would be fun. If on average, museums are open nine hours a day, what you are buying is roughly 36 hours. Factor in meals, rest breaks and transit time from one to the other and the most intrepid adventurers might get to briefly visit half the places listed — that's a great deal. Then again, you can always buy another card.

My Favorite Italy Headlines

by Mario 05-Jan 2011

                                            Italy's Freccia Rossa Trains Offer Free WiFi

Easy Access Italy Internet Finally a Reality

As of January 1st, 2011 registration is no longer required to access a WiFi hotspot in Italy. While internet access was widely available, the old anti-terrorism Pisanu law required users to list an Italian  phone number, passport information, etc. as a condition of access. That law was repealed. From now on visitors to Italy will find free access to the Web unencumbered. For a guide to free WiFi Hot Spots check this link. Use the drop down named Città, to pick the city you want; under Tipologia you may narrow down the type of establishments that offer WiFi or just choose ALL for a complete list; I'd also use ALL in the Provider field. Make sure to click the GRATIS (free) button before hitting the search key. Skype users with a an IPhone or similar can even make free video phone calls back home from over the Web!

 

Italy Paper or Plastic? — Nonna's Gotta Brand New Bag

As of January 1, 2011 existing stocks of plastic bags are being phased out and plastic bags will no longer be produced or available in Italy. Choices will be confined to recycled paper or bioplastic material that's made from renewable, biodegradable sources such as corn starch. The concerns that lead Italy to enact this law were threefold: over one trillion plastic bags are produced annually in the world that can remain in the environment for up to 1000 years; countless animals including whales, tortoises and marine birds suffer needless deaths, some to the point of extinction and third, the toxic danger to humans from carcinogenic dyes, metals and other chemicals used in the manufacturing process. When polled, a majority of Italians chose reusable cloth sacks and wicker baskets over any other alternative. Who would have thought that nonna's sack would become modern day Italy's eco-friendly alternative? Pretending to know Italy and the Italians just a bit, I will wager that Prada, Gucci, Furla will shortly unleash the most stylish, must-have, market bags designed to consume just one renewable resource: your money.

 

                          Italian poppy fields are pretty to look at — the real money comes from olive oil

TOP SECRET: Not Yet Coming to a Store Near You

Of all the documents and communiques released by Wikileaks one interesting Italy related tidbit managed to escape most everyone's attention. Back on February 8th, 2010 U.S. Defense Secretary Gates met in Rome with Franco Frattini, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Frattini, eager to assist the U.S.A's efforts in Afghanistan offered Italy's unique help: convert the opium producing poppy fields to the production of olives and olive oil. While at first blush the offer may elicit a chuckle, olive oil, especially the good stuff, is extremely expensive, quite profitable and possibly the only legal crop that could compel Afghani farmers to make the switch. It's been nearly a year and still no word on Italy's offer.

Easy Italia — Italy to Offer Nationwide Tourist Assistance Starting in May

by Mario 09-Apr 2010

Michela Vittoria Brambilla, Italy’s Minister of Tourism (above) has announced that starting on May 15, 2010 visitors to Italy in need of assistance will be able to call Easy Italia by dialing 039039 from anywhere in the country for the cost of a local call. This service, apart from the cost of the call, is free and available in six languages: English, Chinese, Russian, French, German and Spanish. Aptly named, Easy Italia promises to be able to help travelers with a number of tourism related issues including emergency services and follow each inquiry until it has been resolved. 

Free Fashion Tours of Florence

by Mario 17-Jan 2010

Hurry! Florence has launched a series of guided fashion tours that take visitors behind the scenes of the city’s fashion industry. Each tour lasts about three hours and is absolutely free. Visitors will be guided through shops, artist studios and museums featuring everything fashionable from wedding dress design to shoes to jewelry and contemporary clothing for men, women and children. This experiment in promoting a brand new type of tourism began on January 18, 2010 and ends on June 21, 2010. Each tour is limited to a maximum of 20 persons and while tickets are free, reservations must be made.

http://www.florenceartfashion.com/ 

The site provides phone, fax and email address to make your reservations. The sponsoring organization is Florence Art & Fashion. Once on their site, click on Fashion Itineraries and select Calendar to see what’s going on during your stay. Hurry, as word spreads these tours will fill up quickly.

Italy Goes Wi-Fi — Cyber Surfing in Villa Borghese

by Mario 12-Jan 2010

Rome — In an effort to attract today’s modern travelers, Italy is going high tech in a big way. On January 7th, 2010 Nicola ZingarettiPresident of the Province of Roma, stood in front of Trajan’s Column to officially launch 200 free Wi-Fi access points across the entire Rome metro area. Rome intends to add 300 more points by the end of the year and plans on staking its claim as the largest, free Wi-Fi zone on the planet. Imagine sipping cappucino across from the Pantheon while attending to business back home or making online reservations for dinner.

All Italian cities, towns and provinces including Tuscany are following Rome’s lead and emerging daily with dozens of free zones of their own. At the moment, there are over 10,000 such spots throughout the country. The number is likely to double during the course of 2010 alone. For a country immersed in history, everyday Italians have consistently embraced modern technology faster than any other population I’m aware of. To link in to the Rome system, users need only to open their device in a designated area and complete the free registration form that pops up on their screen.

While free Wi-Fi access is clearly meant to spark tourism, most of the official sites are presently only in Italian. I did find these sites in English: Roma Wireless & Jiwire

The following links are written in Italian but are relatively easy to figure out. Rome’s constantly updated Wi-Fi map and a comprehensive Italy wide Wi-Fi search tool. For those that do not speak Italian here are some simple instructions on using the last link:

  1. Go to the top box called RICERCA 
  2. Enter the location next to the words CITTA' o PROVINCIA using the Italian spelling for cities: Roma, Firenze, Milano, etc.
  3. Next to the word TIPOLOGIA click the button marked FREE
  4. Click on the search button labeled CERCA
  5. Clicking on each of the results in the NOME column shows a Google map with the address of each location.

As more multi-language links emerge please pass them along.

About this blog

Welcome to our Access Italy blog, a mosaic of eclectic, but practical, information; fascinating cultural insights; and unique commentary on a wonderful way of life only the Italians could have designed.  more....

 

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