Nicole Sharp


Tag: Florence

My sister lives in Italy…

At the ripe age of 44, I have trouble recalling some of my youthful motivations. Why did I want to be an astronaut? Why did I love Raggedy Ann and Holly Hobbie so? What did I ever see in that weirdly lanky kid in seventh grade that I had a crush on? (He must have had a great personality.)

I also have been wondering when my deep rooted love for Italy started. Was it ingrained in me? Italy was at the forefront of who we were, my family. Italy was where we came from. We had Italian blood running through our veins!

Perhaps it was the unattainable idea that was appealing to me in my youth. As an awkward, insecure teenage girl, Italy was far away and romantic and therefore, full of promise of the unknown.

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National Espresso Day…

Did you know there was such a thing as National Espresso Day? Me either. But this morning as I checked the happenings my internet world, my sister let me in on this little fact.

So in honor of Espresso Day, here’s an old post about un caffè  in the country where it was invented.

Side note, if you love coffee as much as I do and could actually read about it for awhile, check out my pet project: Always a Cappuccino.

Good Morning Florence 

IMG_0538The Italian Cafe from about 8 to 10 in the morning is a thing of pure beauty.  A well-oiled machine that just begs the foreigner to appreciate the intricacies of it all. Continue reading

No place like home



View of Boise from the Depot

I forget the gem of a state I have here in my little corner of the world. And I’m thankful for my trips this summer that have reminded me why I’ve made this place my home.

Rumi said “It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.

My idol, Madeline L’Engle said “Maybe that’s the best part of going away for a vacation – coming home again.”

And sure that’s what I’m feeling.

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Art of Florence…

20160625_111411I had an agenda when I went to Florence a month ago. There were cappuccino’s to purchase and drink. There were sights to be seen. There were words to be written.

IMG_1672I wanted to stand at the feet of my old friend the Duomo and wonder up at her majesty. I wanted to really take my time and feel my feet on the cobblestones in the heart of Firenze. I wanted to see where the day took me. I wanted to sit in my favorite spot and write. I wanted to eat at meal at 4 Lione (Quattro Lione), this pasta that melts in your mouth. A pasta that is so delicious it’s easy to become emotionally attached to it. I wanted to take enough notes and pictures of daily life in Florence that I had more fodder for the web site I do freelance writing for, Trip101. But one of the things I was looking forward to was finding a particular type of work from an artist in an open air market that I failed to purchase for myself the last time I was in Florence. Continue reading


tuscan countryside

View from the walls of Monteriggioni

I’ve returned back home. My adventures over the past few weeks to California to visit my folks and some old friends, to Italy to see my sister…it’s tightened a belt on the distance between myself and the rest of the world. Made it more accessible, smaller, more manageable.

I’m exhausted and finally came down with the cold I’ve been fighting, but that’s okay. It’s a small price to pay for the amount of rejuvenation I was given. Friends who reinforced my me-ness. Family who reinforced my wholeness. A culture that reinforced my love for learning and language and art. Views that reinforced the beauty of this world we live. I’ll pay one stupid cold any day for such great returns.

I’m sure I’ll have more in-depth thoughts later on my travels, but for now, let’s be honest about what we all want: to see some pretty pictures.

Okay my friends, here you go.


Piazzale Michelangelo

View of Florence

P. Michaelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio


Santa Maria del Fiore

View from a wall

Tuscan Countryside


Gelateria La Carraia

OMG a pink vespa

Pink Vespa on the streets of Florence


Scratchers Italian style


Florence Street art by Clet

local gypsy woman

Orsanmichele Florence

Florence Cemetery

Cemetery of Porte Sante

walls of florence

Original walls of Florence


Base of lamp post along the Arno River


Small Italian market

S. M. Novella

Detail in Santa Maria Novella


Tuscan charm


Detail on the streets of Florence


Parking near Santa Croce


Florence, more musings…

IMG_1681Renaissance. The rebirth and revival of classical art and literature and architecture. I walked past a woman who was holding a small book eye level and I didn’t think much of it, until I glanced over her shoulder. I was stuck by the sketch she was doing of the Piazza Repubblica. Just pencil on a small little sketch book. She had done the arch way that framed a statue that stands in the middle of the piazza. I tripped over my feet and stopped. I wanted more than anything to turn and go back and strike up a conversation and watch her create, but this moment she was caught up in was her moment of inspiration.

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Writing in Florence…

DSC_0164I have a few favorite places in the world. I’m sure there are more, but I haven’t been everywhere yet, now have I?

I wanted to share with you one of the best.

I found it when I was visiting my sister the first time in 2006. She was a starving college student, I was a starving writer. There was a lot of time and not a lot of money. While she was in school I would wander the streets of Florence day after day, losing myself in the renaissance. I even had a book I’d borrowed from the library with a collection of Renaissance writings. Damn the fine, I took it with me because the whole year seemed to be my personal Renaissance as it was. Continue reading


Florence ItalyI hitched a ride with my sister to her work. It was nice to have this insight to my sister’s life. I know where she works, who she works for, but it was wonderful to put an actual building and faces together with the stories.

I got to visit with a few of her colleagues and stood around the Italian version of the water cooler (which is, you guessed it, a new age espresso vending machine. Just to note, the coffee wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great.) What made the moment special was being able to communicate with her co-workers.

It was a quick train ride from her office to Santa Maria Novella, the main train station in Florence. This ride is quick, five minutes. There is no need to find a seat, I just stand with the other passengers who’ve made this trip so many times they stare down at their phones, bored. The train yard looks tired. Cables sag unceremoniously above our heads. Every wall, building, and abandoned train is tattooed from about chest level to the floor with graffiti: tag signs, art, world views, cries for help…they all mingle in a flood of screaming color. Continue reading

The Cafe

CYMERA_20140213_113952 - CopyShall we keep on the topic of coffee and the Italian bar?

The muses took over as I slowly breathed in the Florentine landscape around me that moved and whirled in a drowsy rainy spring.  I sat in so many bars and cafe’s and pasticcerias while I was visiting Florence, writing, waxing poetically about everything I saw.

I wonder if Hemingway preferred the bars he wrote in because it was the thing to do in his day or if it was the mix of tourists…now that I write that, I think perhaps there were not tourists in his day as there are today when you come to Europe.Hemingway-in-Paris_zps43d437ec

Perhaps he loved the rhythm of the day that can be found at European bars and cafés.  A quick caffe (shot of espresso) in the morning, folks on their way to work, waking up to each other’s smiles, complaints and gossip, the work crowd quickly dissolving with the slowing sounds of cups and saucers and spoons being stacked over and over again.  The older crowd shuffles in for their long winded gossip turns or the politics of the day – voicing the kind of opinion that comes from age and time to ponder such provocative thoughts.  After farewells, it’s lunch time.  A speedy group, even if the Italians are known for their long, late lunches.  The bar is for quick panini’s.  A late afternoon pick me up espresso crowd followed blends into an aperitivo crowd.  And finally the bar is put to bed with boisterous sentiments of the evening drinkers.

If life revolves around the kitchen table, “The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.” – Joy Harjo.  Then perhaps the gossip of life, the daily speeds of life can be found in the cafe.  Maybe Hemingway was drawn to this changeling called a café when he was in Paris in the 20s.

I take my turn to write and muse as life swirls around me and breath it all in.

Good Morning Florence

IMG_0538The Italian Cafe from about 8 to 10 in the morning is a thing of pure beauty.  A well-oiled machine that just begs the foreigner to stand back in awe.

People crowd around the pastry case first, no well-formed line, just a general understanding of who might take their turn next.  Neighbors greet each other at their friendly neighborhood café on their way to work.  In the daily life of the Italian, they have a pastry and a coffee for breakfast; a large lunch and finally a demure dinner.  There is no snacking in between, maybe a quick apertivo on the way home from work, stopping by ones local neighborhood café once more.  A café that no longer offers breakfast goods, but has transformed into a bar with a spread of sandwiches, cheeses, breads, pappa al pomodoro (a little tomato bread soup) and an espresso (un café) with a shot of liquor in it, or maybe a red wine.

I could talk about each individual moment of the day at an Italian café, how certain coffee drinks are had at certain times of the day, but for now, oh for now, let’s do talk about morning coffee.

I am visiting my sister.  She lives in Florence these past 9 years, and while she goes to work, I get to walk the city streets and indulge. This trip is different from all my tourist trips I’ve taken before.  This trip I’m taking my time, I have a deeper understanding of the language, I have a deeper understanding of the culture, and I have the luxury to sit back and take it all in.

20This morning I walk to the nearby i dolci di Massimo pasticceria.  Work starts about ten here, and it’s only nine am, so the place is hopping.  I gather into the crowd by the pastry case and while I have time to decide, oh it’s a difficult decision.  There are items with Chantilly cream that divine heaven in your mouth, croissants filled with apples, brioche as far as the eye can see, and delicate, inviting fruit tarts.  What do to?DSC_0015DSC_0016An older blonde woman with what can only be described as a modern, updated version of a Roman face stands behind the counter, handing out una pasta…a pastry that is.  Today I order tre paste per portare via.  Three pastries to take home.  I can’t abide to settle for one, I’ll save some for later.  Most folks quickly munch away at their pastry as they move from the pastry case to the unorganized group in front of the most coveted area of the bar; in front of the espresso machine.16With a crowd that would normally take a Starbucks staff of four and a lot of time to accomplish, one lone man can achieve without breaking a sweat.

In between calls of ‘ciao’ and ‘come stai’ to each other; once they’ve made their way to the front of the counter, they call out their order to the barista, due cappuccini, un caffe, and without giving any acknowledgement to the one who ordered, within seconds said drink is placed before the orderer.  The sound of clinking cups and saucers and spoon becomes a magical morning symphony that accompanies the rising sun.

Vorrei un cappuccino, I call, I would like a cappuccino. IMG_0536My own cup is placed on a saucer with spoon.  I add a little sugar, give a swirl and then…then comes that fine moment when the world stands still and I drink the perfect cappuccino – perfect foam, perfect espresso, perfect size (maybe 6oz) that perfectly tempered mixture rushes down to my stomach and I sigh.  Good morning Italy.

I have been spoiled by the Italian Cappuccino.  When I return to my little corner of the world I call home, I will find no pomp and circumstance to surround a cappuccino of the perfect size, served in a cup with saucer and spoon.  It’s all tall, grande, venti’s with additives, but that’s American. It’s who we are on a busy mornings. This; this is not about an American morning.  Right now this is about the Italian morning.

Here, on this cloudy, cool February morning, I take heed, I revel in this moment that I can be a part of.  I finish my drink in three hefty sips, the way they do, then I step away from the bar so another can take my place.  I pay and make my way back down the rainy streets towards my sisters.  How many more mornings will I have to repeat this ritual?  Not nearly enough.CYMERA_20140213_113952 - Copy

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