Florence – Between Art of the Past and Modern Fashion


Florence is the city which gives and gave examples of art and beauty. The masterpieces now attracting millions of tourists are the witnesses of the ideas and the glories of the past, which were materialized in the works that are today unique beauties without time.

Florence is still master of beauty, just like during the Renaissance. This feature is exhibited not only in the art of the past but also in more modern forms of expressions, such as fashion. The most important and appreciated fashion brands established themselves in the Tuscan capital.

The one who was born and still lives in Florence inherits a sense of beauty that comes from the environment around him every day, the presence of places and monuments are characterized by a very high sense of aesthetics and attention: details and proportions represent a kind of ongoing training for the residents in this city. While living in Florence people unknowingly acquire the aesthetic sensibility which is not to be found in almost any other place in the world.

Today as in the past these places have inspired artists of all kinds, an inspiration which is also manifested in the fashion in which Florence has a very important tradition in the modern era.

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Portovenere – Pride of the Italian Riviera


Blessed by a scenic harbor and adorned with colorful houses; Portovenere is one of the Italian Riviera’s most talked about villages. This lovely village is ideally perched at the edge of a rocky promontory, overlooking a strait.

Portovenere’s old buildings and narrow streets complete its medieval appeal. It is known for its rich culture and traditional way of life. Its inhabitants are also applauded for maintaining a harmonious relationship with the natural landscape. These are just some of the reasons why, together with Cinque Terre and the whole eastern Ligurian Riviera; the village is hailed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Portovenere’s layout looks like it was always meant to be a tourism town. As you walk through its main street called Via Capellini, you will be greeted by a series of shops and restaurants. The Pietro Church is one of the most important historical sites in Portovenere and the church’s origins go back all the way to the 6th century. During the 13th century, a bell tower and Gothic-designed sections were added to it.


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La Traviata Invites You to Italy

La-Traviata“I want people to walk through that door and feel they are in Italy,” says Christian Bou Chaaya, the owner of the Lebanese branch of La Traviata, a cozy 25-year-old family-run restaurant in Bologna, the culinary capital of Italy. He is proud to have brought the little Italian restaurant across the Mediterranean to Beirut.

Bou Chaaya, who has a background in hospitality and event planning in Qatar, had always planned to open his own venue in his home city, Beirut. On a business trip to Italy, he visited La Traviata by chance and fell in love with its authenticity, immediately deciding that it should be the restaurant through which he realizes his plan.

After some initial research revealed that La Traviata was ranked number one among Bologna’s 360 restaurants on the travel website Trip Advisor, Bou Chaaya was even more convinced of his choice, and he decided to approach the family with the idea of franchising a branch in Lebanon. The matron, Manuela Sabbatino, was easily swayed.“They were happy that someone was interested in expanding their business [even] before knowing my background and what I could provide them with,” he says.

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Italian Lessons

Dedication and Sense of Humor are Key in Learning Second Language

By Marjorie Eisenach

After reading a witty, self-deprecating, and insightful New York Times essay by William Alexander, where he details the benefits of learning a second language as an adult, “The Benefits of Failing at French,” I decided to come clean on my relationship with learning Italian. 

It all started when I was a 17-year-old freshman at the University of Wisconsin, having enrolled in intensive Italian, I spent 10 hours Monday through Friday memorizing Italian dialogues. I was hoping one day to join the Foreign Service and become a younger version of Claire Booth Luce. I knew even then that I wanted to attend the University of Bologna during my junior year. But I could barely spit out, “vorrei un panino,” when I went to Bologna two years later.  

I vividly remember one of my early embarrassing “Italian” moments, when I received the results of my very first oral quiz. I was marked down three points for incorrectly answering the most basic of all oral questions, “Come si chiama?,” which translates to, “What is your name?.” My response was, “Mi chiamo Fulvia Bruni.” Since we had been instructed to memorize the dialogues in our text verbatim, I answered somewhat confidently and totally incorrectly this most basic of questions.

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Benvenuti a Bergamo

Display window for the Pasticceria Cavour in Citta' Alta of Bergamo (1064)

Display window for the Pasticceria Cavour in Citta’ Alta of Bergamo

By Marjorie Eisenach

Eccoci a Bergamo! While arriving in Bergamo via a brief flight from Birmingham, England, I started to reminisce about my first arrival in Italy over 40 years ago. As a college junior I had taken an overnight train from Paris, arriving in Milan early in the morning in one of those old fashioned sleeper cars that held six individuals in slings attached to the compartment walls.

Sleep deprived after nine hours in a train, the central station in Milan seemed like a combination of Dante’s inferno and an amusement park with smoke billowing in the cavernous space and pigeons winging their way to the lofty top of the station roof. I heard my first word spoken in Italian by an Italian in Italy, facchino, or porter.  

Last night’s arrival was more pedestrian, but had its own highlight and is somewhat indicative of the changes in Italy. I sat next to a young Indian woman on my crowded plane flight, which had been dominated by the wails of an infant who had trouble adjusting to the atmospheric changes in cabin pressure.  I didn’t realize that the Indian woman spoke Italian until we were landing, and we started to chat about her recent day trip sightseeing in London.

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