Wine Tasting in Tuscany and Chianti

One of my favorite things to do in Italy is to take a day trip to the countryside for lunch and wine tasting. Under sunny skies last November, my friends from NYC and I went for lunch and wine tasting at Poggio Robino just outside of Montalcino. The kind owner has taken in lots of feral cats. That was fine with us until one of them jumped up onto our table and began to eat our prosciutto! We let our fierce canine companion, Chia, out of her stroller, and that solved the problem.

After lunch we drove to Certaldo. Outside of town, is the Tinti family agriturismo and rustic wine tasting room. We called ahead, and found Daniele and his crew picking olives for their organic oil. He showed us the big vat of oil he had just pressed, and the scent was nothing less than amazing.

We tasted and bought lots of Daniele’s newly pressed olive oil as well as his organic wines.

My outfit for the day in Chianti included my Zagar sunglasses. Zagar eyewear are entirely hand-made in Italy from a small family owned business. I love these sunglasses, but cannot find them for sale online! I purchased them from a small shop, Centro Ottico Galileo Galilei in Desenzano del Garda, Lombardia.

The sweater is from my favorite store, Falconeri. It comes in lots of colors and is on sale now marked down from $380 to $195. It has a matching reversible vest which is cashmere on one side and puffy material on the other. It, too, is on sale marked down from $400 to $265. Falconeri.com

The scarf is Burberry that I found at Nordstrom Rack years ago. I still wear it lots! It is one of the few things that I bring back and forth from Florence to Seattle.

The pants are from Max Mara Weekend. They are the new shorter length, and look great with tennis shoes. On their website they are called cotton velvet trousers, and on sale for $147.

I think these are the cutest tennis shoes I have ever had! They are Fratelli Rossetti brand and ever so comfortable. I love the padded heel in tan leather and the perforated white leather. The laces are grosgrain ribbon. I purchased the last available pair at the Rinascente department store in October.

The necklace is Australian pearls with gold chain, made by the goldsmith. The earrings I purchased years ago at a little jewelry shop in San Gimignano. They are still some of my favorite earrings, and the goldsmith makes them now too.

Chia and I are still in rainy Seattle, but will be returning to Florence mid-March. I have scheduled several shopping tours already. Looks like it will be a busy spring!

In Praise of the Simple White Shirt

The New York Times fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman, wrote an article about the, “best white shirt,” last week. This caught my attention since I am a huge fan of a simple white shirt. She was writing about a classic white button up shirt. As Vanessa said, one can spend anywhere from $13.60 (Amazon) to $568 (Charvet) on a basic white button up. I love a white 3/4 sleeve boatneck tee shirt, or a beautiful classic white tee shirt, too.

Vanessa also noted that Alexandra Shulman, the former editor of British Vogue, published a memoir that included an entire chapter devoted to the white shirt. So I seem to be in good company featuring a white shirt outfit this week!

And men, please note that a classic white shirt is a great look for you, too!

In Florence I invested in a custom made white, button up shirt from an old family run business, Casa dei Tessuti.

This was a new world of shopping for me, even though I had taken several of my men clients here previously. I picked out the collar, cuffs and buttons. There were so many choices! The tailoring price is about 120 euro, and the fabric is at least 100 euro.

I have had this shirt for years and still love it. It was an investment piece for me at over 300 euro. I recently purchased another white button up shirt from Spanx.com. The “Best Buttondown” price is $128. It fits pretty well, too, and has a “no gape” design. I was skeptical when I ordered it, but happy to report that it is gape free! BTW, I learned from Vanessa Friedman’s article that Button-ups are shirts you button down the front, while button-downs are shirts with collars held down by buttons on each point.

My outfit for this week includes the white shirt, leggings, boots and a top coat with some sparkly jewelry.

The leggings are nice and thick with a high waist. “Live in High Waist” by Zella, available at Nordstrom for $59.

The blue (looks more black in photo than it is) woven crossbody bag is from Bottega Giotti in Florence. It measures 7″ x 12″ x 3″ and is lined in leather. This is a real work of art! Online is is available in black, red or cream, but other colors are available in the store. Price euro is 460.

My tweed top coat is very old! I wish I could wear one of the new long overcoats, but cannot carry that style off. This is my best substitute.

My blue suede and leather boots from Goccia Shoes, are handmade and ever so comfortable. Careful measurements ensure a perfect fit. These are the short boots. I have the tall ones.

With an outfit this simple, I feel confident adding some bling. Both of the rings and the earrings are from my goldsmith in Florence. The earrings are a Pomellato design, which retail for a king’s ransom at Pomellato.com! The goldsmith price is a fraction. The stack ring is an original design that the goldsmith and I made together. The single ring is a Buccellati design which can be made for about 550 euro. There is a matching bracelet also.

Wearing my white shirt in Piazza del Duomo.

With Chia’s 17th birthday coming up soon, I am considering a companion for her. I was at the Pomeranian dog show this weekend, and fell in love!

What’s New for 2023

My BFF has come up with yet another idea for me. It was her idea that I start a shopping tour business in Florence ten years ago! Her latest idea for me is to post an outfit a week featuring fashion, jewelry and shoes from Florence. So here goes!

These pants are not from Florence, but are available from Spanx.com. The Perfect Pant High Rise Flare are deep navy and nice thick fabric that holds you in! They run extra long, however, so bear that in mind if you order them. I am 5’5″ and bought a petit. The price is $168.00.

I was planning to wear my platform high heel booties from Goccia, but changed my mind and wore my newest booties. They are also from Goccia and much better in the rainy Seattle weather. The current trend of combat boots is too much for me, but these booties have a nod in that direction without looking too chunky. They have a lightweight sole and made of buffalo leather. Price is 220 euro. Email Goccia at info@gocciashoes.com if you want to order some.

The handbag is Max Mara that I have had for years. I love the handles, and have seen similar styles in Florence.

I really like this cashmere turtleneck sweater from Falconeri. They even have a store in NYC now, so ordering from them is easy. Great sales are going on with up to 70% off. falconeri.com

The silk scarf is from Ravinale. They have an online store now too with lots of scarves to choose from in silk, cashmere and blends. Their website is massimoravinale.com. If you order over 150 euro, the shipping is free.

This jacket from Sandro is on the dressy side, and I hardly ever get dressed up these days. Pairing it with casual pants or jeans gives it a new look. I bought it from the Rinascente department store in Florence last year. They are having a big sale now with a good selection of Italian designer blazers. https://www.rinascente.it/en/list/donna

I chose to top off my outfit with Van Cleef Alhambra earrings in mother of pearl, and my Fope Flex’It bracelets. My earrings are from the goldsmith, and cost a fraction of the Van Cleef price! They sell for about 450 euro.

The Fope jewelry is about 20-30% less in Florence. Prices start at around 1,800 and go up from there depending upon the thickness of the bracelet and the configuration of the diamonds. Fope.com has the complete collection, but we can get a better price at the jewelry showroom. These are rose gold, but available in yellow and white gold also.

Happy New Year from Chia and me!

Organic Olive Oil Straight from the Farm

At a recent craft fair in Florence I met several fantastic artisans. Our darling Anastazija was there with her ceramics, and she introduced me to her friend, Lituana, who makes mosaics in the classic Florentine style with natural precious stones. She brings her little dog with her to the craft fairs and he and Chia hit it off. I fell in love with a small piece and had to have it!

Another of the participants at the craft fair, Daniele, had a wine tasting booth. His farm in Tuscany produces organic wines and olive oil. He is the third generation owner, and does everything from picking the olives and grapes, to pressing the oil and making the wine. We surprised him with a visit to his farm.

A liter can of new olive oil.

I had to ship some of the Tinti brand olive oil back to Seattle, where we are enjoying it immensely! One of my shopping clients just had five cans shipped to her for Christmas gifts.

Chia is resting for the upcoming holidays. Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!

Oh No – Shortage of Fope Jewelry!

Recently a client in the States requested that I shop for a Fope bracelet. Fope is about 30% less here in Italy than in the USA. It makes sense to have me buy it for her here and then ship it to her from Seattle when I return next month.

I went to the jewelry showroom that carries Fope and was disappointed to see that there were very few pieces left. The waiting period to receive a new piece is three months! Undaunted, I have planned a trip to Vicenza where the Fope jewelry is made. I contacted the factory and asked if I could visit and make a video for my blog. Hopefully they will allow this and I will be able to find the bracelet my client wants there!

This week I went to see the Medici Chapel here in Florence. I had not been for years, and was eager to revisit. It was not disappointing!

The weather here remains glorious with sun and temperatures in the upper 70’s. I think that Chia looks especially pretty at sunset.

Florentine Home Fragrance

I have had several home fragrances that I purchased here in Florence. I love the scent, but I don’t like the ugly sticks!

Our darling ceramics artist, Anastazija, has come up with a fragrance globe! Instead of the sticks, one puts the fragrance oil onto a piece of chalk like material, insert it in the globe and plug it up with a piece of sponge. She has packaged these 2.5″ globes in a small gift box which includes the chalk, the sponge and a pretty green and gold ribbon. I am bringing back a few for Christmas gifts.

I have this pretty blue globe. She also has pearl and dark blue all with little gold feet.

If you are planning a trip to Florence, you might want to consider taking a home fragrance or perfume making workshop. It is something different than wine tasting and cooking classes!

Your personal shopper in Florence, Italy