Firstly, thank you to all my shopping friends who have emailed to see how Chia and I are doing. We postponed our return to Italy in the nick of time. We spent a week in NYC and instead of returning to Seattle, went to stay with a friend in Virginia at a remote location.

My friends in Florence are forced to stay at home, needing a special certificate to go out at all. It is a nightmare situation with no end in sight. I am heartbroken watching the news from Italy.

Please join me in keeping our Italian friends in our thoughts and prayers. Hoping that all of you are safe and well.

Happy New Year!

Chia and I are spending the winter in rainy Seattle, and missing the pasta, pizza and Prosecco in Florence, not to mention the shopping…..

As I pondered what to write in the blog, it came to me that I have found some wonderful things to buy here in the States too! I have made a list of the new items I am loving.

1. Kopari coconut toothpaste and tinted lip gloss. This isn’t sweet and has a great scent. The lip gloss passed the test with both of my daughters, too. It comes in clear, but we like the tinted one. Wish they could come up with a different packaging, however. I am really trying to eliminate plastic! Available on Amazon or from the Kopari website. koparibeauty.com

2. Silk dental floss in a little glass container from Lucky Teeth. It is refillable, and available on Amazon or the lucky-teeth.com website. No plastic!

3. Blueland household cleaners. They come with acrylic spray bottles (wish they were glass) accompanied by a muslin bag of cleaners in little paper packets. Just add water and let the cleaning begin! I have glass cleaner, general purpose cleaner and bathroom cleaner. The bottles are color coded too, so they won’t be mixed up.

4. Zella high waist leggings. These are a godsend for post holiday tummy bulge, because they actually hold you in and are nice and thick. I bought mine at Nordstrom.com in black and navy blue.

5. JiBen LED Lighted 7X Magnifying Makeup Mirror. This is actually a love/hate relationship. I love how well I can see with it, but I’m not thrilled with how I look! It has a wonderful locking suction cup that actually stays put. My daughter gave me this for Christmas and I like it so much that I bought another to take to Florence with me.

Bookings for spring are coming in all the time now. Most are repeat clients or referrals, which I love! People are reserving time for shopping tours, the mercato food and wine tour, and both together. Looks as if it will be a busy and fun spring in Florence!

Merry Christmas Music!

Christmas Music: which written by men vs. women?

Silent Night. Definitely a man wrote this. Every woman knows that there is absolutely no “all is calm” any time around the holidays.

I’ll Be Home for Xmas. Man for sure. “I’ll be home for Xmas, you can count on me. If only in my dreams.” Huh? Which is it? Make up your mind. We have meals to plan.

All I Want for Xmas is You. Woman wrote this. She is willing to give up the cutesy jewelry, an ill fitting sweater, and similar re-gifting presents for an actual person.

Dreaming of a White Christmas. “With every Christmas card I write.” Of course this is a woman. Have you ever had a Christmas card written by a man???? Especially one with family photos taken all year long….

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. We all know this was a little girl reporting. Enough said.

Day Trip to San Gimignano

A beautiful sunny Sunday here in Florence, so I decided to take a day trip to San Gimignano with Chia. I am obsessed with the salt and pepper shakers I bought there on a recent trip with my daughter. I thought that these would be great Christmas gifts!

It is a bit complicated to take the train and then the bus, but I had done this several times, and felt confident I could go it alone. All was fine except I had neglected to note the Sunday bus schedule…..I made it to the Poggibonsi train station, and then luckily flagged down a taxi that was dropping people off. A short cab ride, and we arrived at the gates to San Gimignano. I bought several of the salt and pepper shakers, and was chatting with the store owner about how to get a cab back to the station. He informed me that it was impossible on Sunday!

Left with no other possibility, I found a hotel for the night, but had no food for Chia! The ceramics shop owner told me that there might be a shop open on Sunday, and they might have dog food. Chia has a very sensitive stomach, and cannot tolerate many foods… The shop was open, and it had one can of dog food, but obviously not food for a little dog with a sensitive stomach!

Again with the help of the ceramics shop owner, I was directed to a charming, out of the way restaurant. This restaurant has over 70 kinds of bruschetta!

Next morning it was foggy, so I couldn’t see the vista from my hotel room. Here is Chia posed in front of the cistern in the center of San Gimignano. Luckily the dog food agreed with her!

Back home in Florence, we are preparing for a tour tomorrow. A Canadian couple on a cruise will be here for only one day. We will visit the mercato, have lunch in my courtyard, do a wine/olive oil/balsamic tasting and then shop for coin jewelry, leather and linens. My coin necklace is the first piece of jewelry I bought here in Florence and still my favorite!

Fope Jewelry, My New Love

Fope is an Italian jewelry designer that makes the most incredible stretchy gold bracelets without using any elastic! It is a secret how they do this, but the result is nothing short of incredible. I have been lusting after one of these bracelets, and I just bought one. Being soft and stretchy, these bracelets are very comfortable to wear when working on the computer, and they don’t catch on anything.

I had a lovely lady shopping with me this weekend who bought the Fope necklace for a pendant she had. She also bought two bracelets, one in white gold and one in rose gold.

The weather here is crisp and sunny in the mornings, and warm in the afternoons. My daughter, her friend and I went to San Gimignano and then to a beautiful wine tasting lunch nearby.

I have people ask me frequently where to stay in Florence, and I recommend my apartment complex, Palazzo Virginio. They have only 22 units, which can accommodate a single person up to groups of 8. They are rented by the day, the week, or the month. If you stay here, we can have aperitivo in the courtyard in front of my apartment. Palazzo Virginio is located about 7 minutes walking from Piazza Santa Croce. The units are very quiet since they are off the street and very reasonably priced. Check out www.palazzovirginio.com Hope to see you here soon!

Your personal shopper in Florence, Italy