Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Beach Day at Castiglioncello (Part I)

As the faithful Beautiful Florence reader may know, Italian newspaper headlines are focusing on two things.  No, neither the economy nor politics.  The first is the fact that Italy unexpectedly beat Germany in a soccer semifinal and will face Spain in the final tomorrow.  The other is the country is in the midst of a severe heat wave, resulting in June weather with August temperatures.   Much like the snow
red alert (bollino rosso) in February, there is another bollino rosso issued for tomorrow
when it it predicted that it will reach--according to my I phone--37° Celsius in the shade
(98.6 Farhenheit).
Add the legendary Florence humidity and the result is a steam bath.

So, on the weekend, there is nowhere cooler than to head to the sea.
A personal favorite of mine is the beach town of  Castiglioncello (pictured above),
 1 1/2 hours from Florence.

One and a half hours from Florence?!!--you might ask.
The closest beach to Florence is Viareggio, about an hour away.
Having experience the beach scene and the Ionian sea in the Italian region of Puglia in the '80s,
Viareggio is not an option, at least for me.

Above is one of the many reasons I am fond of Castiglioncello--this public park
greets visitors immediately upon arrival.  With its shrubs, flowers, trees and flowers--
not to mention the sprouting fountain--I feel immediately cooler upon first glimpse.

As I am known to arrive at the beach no later than 9 am--before temperatures are scorching--
first things first:  colazione (breakfast).

On and off, I have gone to the beach in Castiglioncello since my arrival in Florence in the '80s.
I have made many discoveries.  One thing, however, has basically remained the same:
breakfast at Caffè Ginori.

The caffé is family owned and run, and the delicious pastries are made in house.

Another cool sight.  These, however are pastries that Italian bring as dessert when invited to
 Sunday lunch.

Colazione is another matter.  My choice may not have been traditional, but delicious.

A caffé macchiato (a shot of espresso coffee with steamed milk, in this case enough to make it look like a mini-cappucino) and a pastry filled with ricotta cheese and sultanas.

Unfortunately, the last several years, Caffé Ginori has instituted wait service ($$$) at the outdoor tables.
Up to now, however, for a faithful customer like me who arrives at the unheard hour of 9 am from Florence, they close an eye (chiudono un'occhio) when I discreetly sit at at one of the first outdoor tables for a few minutes during colazione.
Now, it's off to more important things in Castiglioncello--the sea.

Despite the fact that there are very few native English-speaking visitors to Castiglioncello,
the beach sign is bilingual.

Now, this a sight that needs no translation.  And as hot as it is at the moment,
it is refreshing just to look at--as well as to experience.  More to follow....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Angela Caputi--A Florence Fashion Designer

This week and next are Florence Fashion Weeks.  The city is in a social, creative and commercial ferment as Pitti Immagine Uomo, Pitti W and Pitti Bimbo (respectively men's, women's pre-collection and children's clothing for spring/summer 2013) are open to buyers and the press at the
 Fortezza da Basso trade fair center.

One well-known Florentine designer, Angela Caputi (pictured below)
took the opportunity to preview her premier costume jewelry collection to the public directly
at her shop on via Santo Spirito.

In the heart of Florence's Oltrarno neighborhood, Angela Caputi founded her company "Giuggiù" with the vision of designing fashion accessories.  Over 25 years later, her name is one of the most recognized in high fashion costume jewelry carrying the prestigious "Made in Italy" label.

Angela Caputi's inspiration derives from the haute couture of the 1940s and 50s when accessories had a significant role in the a movie star's overall appearance.  Contrary to the Italian neorealism filmmaking style of the period, Hollywood movies emphasized the potential of hope in a world where one's dreams could become reality.

Above is Caputi's dream of a costume jewelry piece--part of the spring/summer 2013 collection--becoming reality in the hands of a skilled craftsperson.

The Caputi workshop is located upstairs from the shop premises, and visitors were invited to view
the creation process during the Pitti Fashion Weeks.

Angela Caputi's elegant designs are extremely precise and distinctive--each piece is unique, having its own style and personality.

Characterized by the use of plastic and synthetic materials, the accessories are light and easy to wear.
The various combinations of colors and textures, combined with Angela Caputi's original designs,
 form her personal trademark.

The designer's endless collection of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pins gives her clients the freedom to choose something that fits their own personal style.

Besides previewing trends in costume jewelry for next year, the Angela Caputi shop
displays this year's summer collection.

The color palette is extremely bright and shiny, featuring sea colors such as blue, amber,
 turquoise and aqua.

Although Caputi's company has participated in fashion fairs and international events in Paris and New York, the designer has never forgotten the magic of the city where it all began.

"While Milan has become the commercial center of fashion, Florentine craftsman continue to invent new and original pieces," she says.  "It is thanks to its artistic soul that Florence remains a place that people continue to fall in love with."

And in love of course with the various expressions of that artistic soul.