Just before the holidays, my husband, Bill Ross, and I had the opportunity to sit down for a fireside virtual happy hour with our dear friends, Frances and Ed Mayes. While we wished we could enjoy each other’s company by the same hearth, Frances and Ed joined us from their home in Cortona, and their enchanting descriptions of Italian life at Christmastime made us feel like we were there together. 

Frances regaled us with talk of Italian holiday decorations, like the lights throughout the town square and the dozens of nativity scenes outside of Cortona’s 33 churches. We discussed traditional holiday foods (focaccia topped with tiny late harvest grapes is a personal favorite), and Ed gave us a tutorial on how Italians roast chestnuts over an open fire. Bill and I shared our southern culinary traditions of biscuits with ham (though I did use prosciutto for a little Italian flavor!) and cheese pennies. 

We spoke of Frances’ newest book, Always Italy which recently won the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award. Bill and I adore this book for its ability to transport us to various regions of Italy with the flip of a page, and it has given us a fresh list of places to explore when we are next able to get there. I completely understand when Frances explains that Italy evokes a feeling of expansiveness within her, and that she is never short of creative inspiration when she is at home, in Italy. 

IGTV Happy Hour: http://bit.ly/HappyHour_AlwaysItaly

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