An unforgettable night at Giubbe Rosse

by Rebecca Bricker on December 10, 2012

Giubbe Rosse is my favorite place to write in Florence. I love sitting at a table under the awning, looking out at the carousel on lively Piazza della Repubblica. I wrote much of my book, Tales from Tavanti, at Giubbe Rosse. In fact, it’s the setting for the opening scene.

Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would be invited to join the elite circle of writers who have called this historic literary cafe their home.

Renowned authors, poets, journalists – along with artists, photographers, philosophers, intellectuals and political activists – have been part of Giubbe Rosse’s rich history for the past century.

I love looking at the old photographs, in Giubbe Rosse’s bar area, of the regulars who used to hang out there.  My favorite is of a group of dashing Giubberatis – among them are Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and Man Ray.

There aren’t many women in Giubbe Rosse’s photos. But one always catches my eye as I carry my cappuccino to the reading nook opposite the bar. Her name is Maria Ginanni, >>> a countess who was part of the Italian futurist movement that was born at Giubbe Rosse in the early 20th century. She was known for her dreamy creative writing and feminist views.

At my book presentation at Giubbe Rosse last Friday evening, I read a chapter that tells the story of my first encounters with GR co-owner Claudio Catalani and Italian poet-artist Massimo Mori, who leads GR’s writers-and-artists group. As I read aloud, Massimo sat on my left and my dear American friend Jean Matranga, a sister Californian who has lived in Florence for 40 years, translated my prose into Italian (and did an amazing job!).

The chapter recounts my first conversation with Claudio, who told me the history of Giubbe Rosse and served me a cocktail – invented by the Futurists – called Giostra d’alcool (the alcoholic merry-go-round). It’s a blend of Campari, Barbera wine and a sweet citrus drink called Cedrata, topped with chocolate shavings. Giostra d’alcool is served in a bowl-shaped stemmed goblet with three cubes of Pecorino cheese skewered on a long stick that’s perched on the rim. After the first sip, I was ready to become a disciple of Futurismo. 😉

My reading ended with Claudio’s comment the day I met him: When your book is published, we will do your presentation here.

I savored the moment, as I closed the book, feeling the clasp tighten on a journey that had come full circle. Massimo thanked me for continuing the tradition of authors who’ve written their books at GR.  Claudio welcomed everyone to an aperitivo buffet he had prepared as a gift to me. 




<<< Massimo Mori


Grazie mille to Massimo and Claudio…and to all my friends who came out on a cold and rainy night to cheer me on.


<<< Claudio Catalani

A footnote to this story: Two Finnish women – mother and daughter – were in the audience. I had met them the previous night at a local department store, in the coat department. We were shivering from below-freezing temps. (They had left zero-degree weather in Finland and, expecting mild weather in Florence, hadn’t packed their parkas.) In winter, Italian women wear all-weather down-filled “puffers.” Not exactly a flattering style for a Woman with Hips (that would be me). But frankly I don’t mind looking like a walking sausage as long as I’m a warm walking sausage.

The Finnish mother and I bought the same coat. I love how women bond when they try on clothes together – it’s a global phenomenon. I present to you the Puffer Twins…

Presentation photos by Vieri Leidi Gardi


Thom December 10, 2012 at 4:49 am

Beautiful, the only word that comes to mind. The room, the prose, and you – beautiful. It sounds like a magical night. Congratulations.

Rebecca Bricker December 10, 2012 at 5:06 am

Ahhh – thank you, Thom. It was incredible. 😀

jean December 10, 2012 at 7:51 am

Totally magic! You were bubbling ( …forse il prosecco prima della presentazione?) and made it just wonderful and so did the audience!

Rebecca Bricker December 10, 2012 at 8:00 am

An author drinking prosecco during her presentation – so Italian! ;D Glad you were there to keep me from talking at light speed. Oy oy.

Peg December 10, 2012 at 8:23 am

To have come full circle–congratulations!

Rebecca Bricker December 10, 2012 at 10:36 am

Thanks, Peg, for all your support along the way.

nora December 10, 2012 at 10:05 am

It was a long and trying and delightful and annoying and fabulous road to the reading at Guibbe Rosse. You worked hard for the magic. I hope it follows you always . . .

Rebecca Bricker December 10, 2012 at 10:45 am

Thanks, Nora – and yes to all those adjectives. You know every nuance of this story!

Simona Cavaliere December 10, 2012 at 10:34 am

I enjoyed your prose as always…’re indeed a truly talented writer!
The transnational-puffer-wearing-frozen ladies-look is just smashing!!

Rebecca Bricker December 10, 2012 at 10:38 am

Much appreciated praise from my favorite Italian fashion consultant! :)

Sarah McKee December 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Dear Becky,

How wonderful to come full circle like this as the writer you are — and to play with the big kids!

Warmest wishes for splendid holidays – Love, Sally

Rebecca Bricker December 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Sally – thank you so much. I owe a big thank you to your mom for all her encouragement and inspiration so many years ago. Happy holidays to you, too!

p.s. to my schoolmates – Sally’s mom = Alma McKee, who taught reading at Washington Jr. High. A truly remarkable teacher.

Kathleen Pooler December 11, 2012 at 8:28 am

What a magical night, Rebecca! Congratulations and thank you for bringing us along. How wonderful that your words and story and YOU continue to be a gift to others.I love your story behind the story as well of the “sausage” coats :-) Sending warm holiday blessings your way!

Rebecca Bricker December 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

Thank you, Kathy. I love my sausage coat – it’s like walking around in a sleeping bag – and the story that goes with it. I will always think of the Wonderful Women of Finlandia when I wear it.

Happy holidays to you! Will I see you in Italia next year? Hope so!

Jackie Lamothe December 17, 2012 at 6:40 am

I can’t tell you how happy I am for you. You are positively glowing in these pictures and you deserve every bit of joy coming your way. Brava!

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