Fanny was a very well respected (at least that's what she said) travel correspondent before she transformed herself into a cookery writer and TV Chef. She'd scribble about anything if she got paid in reality, but she loved gadding about, dashing off columns and banging out books mainly about aspirational but perhaps achievable European travel from 1950's onwards. With Johnnie by her side, she selfishly packed up her trunk and toured round for the Bon Viveur Guide to Holidays in Europe. It was the TripAdvisor of its time. She invented it - they were the original Judith Chalmers and Michael Palin. Fanny just loved to get away, especially to Italy and in particular to Florence.
Notwithstanding, Fanny warned that Florence, despite it's 'gay friendliness', explosion of floral displays and people who were 'incredibly interested in your well-being' (did she mean overly nosey?), had 'climatic conditions' which produced heat that even the Romans considered intense. Well-to-do Italians flocked there for the winter. The travel guide, like many today, gives average temperatures year round, but Fanny introduces a new comparison to give her untravelled readers an idea of what these temperatures would be like. She compares and contrasts the average temperature in Eastbourne. So in July while it would be an imaginable 60F on Englands' coastline, in Florence it would be tropical at 81F. Strange how the Eastbourne Scale didn't catch on...
If you can bear the heat, Fanny recommends lots to do while in Florence. The most important of which is to shop for straw goods in the aptly named Straw Market. She couldn't get enough straw. In addition to shopping Fanny recounts the delights of the Firenze Golf Club, the Winter Opera Season (December and January), a wealth of Art and Architecture and in summertime you can watch the locals play football in funny costumes. What more could you want from a forgiven jaunt? It all sounds so perfectly civilised.
Except the food, which Fanny describes as 'running the gamut from A to B' using the adjective 'limited' as a harsh warning. She then, of course, goes on to list a huge variety of food that you can get, and better still that you should bring home with you. Exotic items like Aubergines and her beloved Pimentos. She lets readers and possible travellers know to expect an excessive use of cheese, far too much frying, out of proportion tomato sauces, inordinate amounts of pastas and for everything to be served with an abundance of oil, which Fanny notes is disastrous for the 'untrained stomachs.' Don't ask how she knows, but Johnnie looks sheepish.
Fanny does recommend Florence for sweet little biscuits however, and recreates her version of a Florentine in the partwork. She melts butter with sugar, adding in chopped almonds, flaked almonds, chopped glacé cherries (Il Tricolore if you please) and a little cream. Fanny leaves this mixture to cool before blobbing teaspoons-full onto trays and baking them for 12 minutes. They spread a lot (did she miss out the flour?), and emerge like super thin shards of brown glass, ready for their characteristic chocolate bases, swirled with forks into wavy patterns. They sum up Fannys review of Florence - gay and colourful, baked in heat unknown in Eastbourne, cultured and exotic, crisp and sweet, although a little greasy with copious amounts of butter. Presumably by the time you return from Florence your stomach has been trained to cope.