by Melinda Gallo

Meeting the author of The Passionate Olive

Ever since I moved to Florence, I love that I often get to meet new people now who come to visit. My family and friends think of me whenever one of their friends comes to Florence for a visit. I'm always happy to meet them when I have time and at least have a drink or go for pranzo (lunch). Most of the people who come are just ecstatic to be in Florence, so it's a true pleasure to see their joy. Today I had the pleasure of meeting Carol Firenze who wrote a lovely book called The Passionate Olive in which she describes 101 things you can do with olive oil.

As with anyone that I meet that I've never met before I am always hopeful that the person and I will hit it off. I haven't become best friends with every visitor, but there is always a special connection. My other sister's friends came to town in 2007, and we got along so well that I invited them to my wedding in Los Angeles.

I planned to meet Carol in front of her hotel, so when I walked up to Carol she looked up at me and flashed me a warm smile. In that instant, I knew we'd be getting along well.

I walked her to via delle Oche where we had lunch at Coquinarius where they have a great selection ofinsalate (salads). Because we hadn't reserved a table, we were told that the wait was about 20 minutes. Instead of waiting outside the restaurant in the rain, I took Carol to the Paperback Exchange down the street to look at some books.

I hadn't thought that maybe Carol could've spoke about her book at the libreria (bookshop) or else I would've told her to contact them beforehand. She showed her book to one of the owners of the libreria who also found it lovely.

After lunch, I took Carol to Chiaroscuro where she could have a caffè macchiato (espresso with a shot of hot milk) because she already knew that drinking a cappuccino after 11 am was considered a faux pas in Italy. We stood at the bar and sipped our caffè while chatting some more. I walked Carol to via Calzaiuoli so she could find her way back to the Duomo. Before parting ways, we decided to meet up in a few hours for a glass of prosecco.

I met up with Carol in via delle Oche and took her to Obika, which is a Mozzarella Bar in via Tornabuoni. We sat down inside near the large table with all the plates of delicious food offered for their aperitivo. We sipped our drinks and chatted as if we had been friends forever.

Carol was generous to have brought me a copy of her book, which she graciously signed for me. And, of course, the minute I arrived home, I opened it up to peruse it. I was intrigued to try a few of the uses for olive oil that she discusses in her book. While getting ready to go to bed, I poured some olive oil into a container to take to the bathroom so I could use it as a make-up remover and then as a skin moisturizer. Her passion for olive oil is palpable and certainly comes through her beautiful book. I am excited to learn more about olive oil so I can use it and appreciate it even more.

With these meetings of friends of friends, I never know what to expect, but I am always so happily surprised each time. This time I am happy that I have made a new friend who has a passion about another aspect of Italy, its olive oil.

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