il porcellino, bronze pig fountain, Florence Italy

The Bronze Pig of Florence

Il Porcellino, as the Italians call him, means “the little pig”. However the bronze porker fountain sitting at the side of the New Market, or Mercato Nuovo, is really a wild boar, or a cinghiale in Italian. He supposedly brings good luck when visitors rub his snout and put a coin in his mouth.

Picasso bread hands

Cocteau, Picasso, and a Tale of two Breads

When I recently toured Santo Sospir, the villa decorated by Cocteau, the guide pointed to a fougasse (a local bread) painted on the wall and said it was a reference by Cocteau to the hands painted by his friend, Picasso. I didn’t really understand the link because the bread looked nothing like a hand to me….

April fool or april fish

April Fool or April Fish?

In many countries, the first day of April is a day to play harmless jokes on family and friends. This usually consists of telling a farfetched story in such a way that it sounds like it could be true. When the other person falls for our joke, we exclaim…

statue of liberty head

Madame Liberté

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognised symbols of the United States. But did you know that Lady Liberty is an immigrant? It’s true, she’s a French woman by birth who has made New York her home. (No wonder she’s so elegant.)

venice carnival

Carnival Time in Venice, Italy

Carnival celebrations take place around the world, but when we think of elegant masks and beautiful costumes, we think of Venice.  So this year my husband and I decided to go and see for ourselves what the Venice Carnival was like.  We weren’t disappointed.

Do you speak english, yes, no

It Pays to be Polite in France

“A cup of coffee” – € 7.00 “A cup of coffee, please“ – € 4.25 “Hello, a cup of coffee, please“ – € 1.40 By Margo Lestz At this café in Nice, France, minding your manners can significantly reduce the price of your coffee. Of course, this was meant as a humorous way to remind…

Menton France, lemon festival, fete du citron

Menton, France celebrates the Lemon

They say when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade.  But what if you are a town on the French Riviera and life gives you extraordinarily delicious lemons? You sell them at high prices, of course!  Then you buy truck loads of cheaper ones from Spain and have a big festival.  Well, that’s what…

galette des rois, king cake

The King Cake holds a Surprise

While eating his cake, Jeff pulled out a small white tile, the kind that might be found on a kitchen wall.  He marched up to the counter and indignantly informed the server that they had baked a tile into his cake.  She broke into a big smile and said, “Oh, you found the prize!  You…