My family lives in Lucca, a medieval town just outside Florence and only 10 minutes from Pisa. Known for the composer Giacomo Puccini and the olive oil Berio Lucca is quite a charming town to visit when in Tuscany. Over the years my favorite places are still running for business and when I get back to Lucca this is my list for the 10 top places to eat in Lucca. 

1. Panificio A. Giusti: Via Santa Lucia, 18
A traditional bakery Panificio Giusti is famous for its soft and delicious focaccia. The store is always crowded especially since it has been discovered by tourists. They offer a variety of foccaccia. Here the tip: ask for fresh and warm focaccia (calda, apnea uscita dal forno). Try their raisin and onion focaccia. They also just added pane nero (black focaccia/bread) which is amazing. Eat the focaccia right away otherwise it will become hard like a rock.


2. Pasticceria Pinelli: Via beccheria, 28
Near Piazza Grande this small and long bar/pastry shop is a must go for their focaccine farcite with tuna salad and tomato and their panini dolci with prosciutto crudo. This is a quick stop in the morning for your cappuccino before heading down to get some gelato at Gelateria Veneta. An interesting note: in Tuscany morning breakfasts are savory. We eat focaccia with prosciutto, valdostana (a pastry with tomato, prosciutto and cheese). While croissants are still an option, you will see them more frequently in the north regions of Italy.


3. Pizzeria da Felice: Via Buia, 12
The best pizza al taglio in Lucca is made in a tiny pizzeria with a big wood oven, not far from Panificio Giusti. Order one or two slices of pizza margherita or indulge in cecina, a flat bread made with chickpeas flour. Don’t expect any fancy service or a table. This is a quick stop for locals before you head out for a late night. You can also order for carry out.


4. L’Imbuto: Via della Fratta, 36
This Michelin chef will prepare some fine and innovative dishes all made with local ingredients. Ristorante L’ Imbuto is situated inside the Lucca Center of Contemporary Art. Don’t expect a traditional lactose or Italian meal. The restaurant does not even have a menu. Customers select whether they want to indulge in a light or laborious meal and from there it is a surprise. You can have steak served on a branch from the woods of Lucca accompanied with wild strawberries. 
Website: L’Imbuto

5. Pizzeria Sbragia: Via Fillungo 146
It was known as the best pizzeria in town. I am not sure whether that is still the case but it is still a popular place to eat pizza or do a carry out. They even deliver, which is a rare case in Italy. They will deliver your pizza on a bicycle which makes the experience even more special. 


6. Cioccolateria Caniparoli: Via S. Paolino, 96
If you are a lover of chocolate this place will not fail you. From the traditional sacher torte, to home-made chocolate spread and bars Cioccolateria Caniparoli tastes as good as it looks. Their prices are fair. For special custom-order make sure you order one week prior. Take it even further by taking one of their classes.



7. Gelateria Veneta: Via Vittorio Veneto, 74
This is the best gelato in town. The owners still use the same recipes from 1927 when it first opened. Whether you prefer fruit flavors like strawberry and lemon or rich flavors like chocolate and stracciatella this place will change your relationship with gelato forever. My favorite flavor is tiramisu. They opened different locations through out town, so watch out for their kiosks on Via Fillungo. 

8. Ristori, dessert and ice-cream: Via Fillungo 83
Ristori used to be a famous old fashioned profumeria, or perfumery with beautiful wood furniture and ancient floors. Eventually, over the years, with the increase of chain beauty retails such as Sephora the ancient perfumery closed and is now replaced by a gelateria/dessert. Here, you can find small delicious little desserts like tiny ice-cream balls on a stick covered in nuts and chocolate. Or even chocolate fondue.


9. Il Mecenate: Via del Fosso, 94
A traditional Tuscan/Lucchese restaurant Mecenate offers a variety of dishes all made with local ingredients. You can view a list of their food distributors on their site and I can assure you they are all authentic to the area. Here, you can taste crostini with lard, cod, rabbit and fried stuffed zucchini flowers - my favorite.
Photo Credit: Il Mecenate 


10. Port Ellen ClanVia del Fosso, 120
Cute and different restaurant with a sophisticated menu. This is not your typical Tuscan restaurant. They serve duck over mashed potatoes, steak tartare, and octopus. Their selection of wine is wide enough to give you options even on a budget. 



What time is the super Bowl 50, this year? If you clicked here to figure out the answer the Super Bowl this year is February 7, 6:30PM ET, 2016. You can watch the game between the Panthers and Broncos on CBS.

Now that is enough said about a bunch of guys running with a ball. Let's talk about Super Bowl food. I don't want to do the same old chicken wings and since my parents are in town we will go all Italian. My cousin who ironically lives in Singapore passed me this delicious recipes

INGREDIENTS

For the dough
1 Kg of flour // 4 cups
6 eggs
1 KG of spinach // 4 cups
1 KG of other type of leaf like collards // 4 cups

Place the flour on the counter top of your kitchen and create a well in the center. Place the eggs in the center. Slowly with afford whisk the eggs and start dragging the flour in the center working it into the egg mixture. Knead by hand until smooth and roll into a ball.Wrap in plastic paper and set aside for at least 30 minutes. At room temperature and in a dry environment. Start working on your filling.

For the filling
5 eggs
200 grams of parmesan cheese // 1 cup
250 grams of ricotta cheese // 1 cup and 1/3
Salt
Majorana // teaspoon
nutmeg // teaspoon

In a large bowl place the ricotta cheese, cheese, eggs and the other ingredients and start combining together until you get a nice and smooth dense cream. Taste in salt and add more if desired. You can add spinach (1 KG) to this feeling but be aware that you need to make sure your spinach are drained of any water. 

PREPARATION

Now the fun part. Work the dough into the pasta machine. If you have any electric one lucky you otherwise your arms will be sore. Make sure you pass each piece of pasta multiple times in the pasta machine until it is smooth and very very thin. It needs to be super thin to taste good. 

Place the long sheet of pasta on a clean counter top. Use a ravioli mould cut the sheet into circle. We the edge with water and add about 2 teaspoons of filling for each. Cover with another circle and with the fork mark the edge to seal the two sheets together. This is why you need water so they will stick together. Alternatively, you can use egg yolk. You can use a spoon to place the filling in each sheet or you can have one of those fancy pastry bags like in the picture. You can serve them with just sage and butter or whatever you like. They are very versatile especially if you keep your filling just with cheese.




Happy New Year. It is officially 2016, which means we are going to see an increase in gym membership, fast diets and many lettuce recipes. The after Christmas panettone and stuffed turkey left us with unwanted extra weight all in the name of spending time with our loved ones. Studies say that an average person gains 5 pounds (2KG) during Christmas season. To lose the weight this person would need to burn a total of 17,500 calories extra which is approximately over 17 hours of jogging at a 10mph rate.

I have tried many diets through out the years. I was 16 when I tried my first diet which consisted of boiled carrots and potatoes with some type of grilled or broiled meat. In college my friends and I tried the infamous Master Cleanse diet, which included a juice made of cayenne pepper, maple syrup, lemon and water. You were supposed to only drink it for as many days as needed. I lasted half day, my friends were stronger than I was, but everyone was definitely pissed off and easily irritated. That is what lack of food would do to you. At some other point in my life I tried the New York diet, which said to have put Heidi Klum back in her pre-pregnancy shape and ready for a Victoria's Secret show. The diet consisted of as many boiled eggs as you want, no carbs, no grains, no this and that. If you were hungry you had to put a boiled egg in your mouth. Dinners were not bad, some of the recipes provided were actually quite normal, like meatloaf and grilled fish. I lasted 3 days after which I could not eat eggs for few months. Then there was the army diet or the Birmingham diet or also known as the 3 days cardiac fad, which was designed to help those patients undergoing cardiac surgery. The idea is to limit your intake and eat exactly what the diet tells you to (e.g. half grape fruit, half banana, and so on). The diet is said to make you lose up to 10 pounds in 3 days. This is probably the only diet I have finished. It works for a while until you have that special holiday dinner or that long week-end at your parents house. Other diets I have tried through out my life included: the minestrone diet, all you eat is minestrone; the melon diet, as you imagine you eat a lot of melon, the yogurt diet, the full moon diet and so on. All of these diets I quit within the first day or I actually cheated so gained weight. Even when I was eating healthy, following the so called fitness healthy food pyramid (increasing protein and decreasing carbs) I still was not really seeing any differences, quite the opposite my body would react by gaining weight and not muscle weight. My husband makes fun of me because overtime I would state, "Tomorrow diet," he knows I will end up having dinner with pasta, wine and chocolate. I just can't do it.

So what did I learn after this experience? I came to the conclusion that I hate diets - Duh! I knew I hated them when I would quit after one day. The idea of being restricted in what I ate made me wanted to eat more and more junk. When I followed real nutritional plans especially when working out - the idea that you need protein to build muscle - I still saw little difference. Funny enough the moments in my life where I did not give a shit about losing weight but instead relied on pasta for lunch and dinner, and chocolate chip cookies for snack I lost weight (probably muscle here that was saying goodbye). I had this discussion with my friend who is a real doctor. When we followed the same diet, based on a 1500 calories per day, she gained weight and was stuffed, I lost and was starving and proceeded to quit right away.  So,  in 2016 as we all have gathered some more meat on our belly my approach to dieting is quite different: 1. Go back to running and spend more time out; 2. Find recipes that look delicious and that they are actually healthy. So, probably let's ditch that lard, but not the bacon. And let's keep the wine and coffee. My suggestions for anybody trying to lose some extra pounds is to increase physical activity. I love being active and I would rather run the extra mile but keep my vino than feel miserable at night. Everyone is different of course, but listen to the way you feel and make small changes. If you are drinking 12 cokes a day, maybe try 10....

So who is hitting up the gym and doing some diets in 2016?





Ever wonder what shoes to wear with your leggings? Or what shoes to wear with leggings and a sweater or in the summer? Leggings are so far the most comfortable type of clothing items for women. You can dress them up or down and even use them to work out or go to bed. So here few ideas on what shoes to wear with your leggings.

{All content on this blog is copyright and shall not to be reproduced or republished without consent of Fashion For Real People.} 

1. What can I wear with black leggings?
Pretty much anything, but to make the look stylish I like to pair them with boots, especially in the winter time. Boots elongate short legs and make them look slimmer, even better if you have boots with heels. But to keep it comfortable the best investment you can probably do is to buy a nice pair of black leather flat boots (as seen in picture). Pair your black leggings with a long t-shirt, blouse or longer jacket/blazers. Avoid short, tees or blazers unless of course you are a top model or super skinny. Given that leggings are not forgiving when it comes to show your curves and love handles getting stuck in your panties, I would pick a flowy top that contrasts but compliments hugging leggings/clothes.


[All photos of me by Mallory Brooks]

2. Best Shoes to Wear with Leggings
- High Knee Boots (as shown in picture // similar here by Jeffrey Campbell)
- Ballet shoes (Porselli are the best in my opinion. Here where you can get some cute ones)
- Dr Martens or similar boots (I like the contrast that it is created between oversize shoes and skinny legs. It provides a slim effect believe it or not).
- Converse or leather sneakers (if done right, this is a youthful look and very comfortable)


3. What shoes to avoid with leggings
- Pumps or any type of heels as in sandals. I have seen this look well done on skinny girls or few fashion bloggers on Pinterest, but this is a look that only few can pull off. This is what you want to avoid.
- Flip flops: while this look might be ok with young girls I would keep it only for the house.
-  Uggs: same as above. Ok to wear it around the house, maybe run to the grocery, but I would avoid to pull it off as a night out outfit. You want to be comfortable but not look like you just roll out of bed, especially in your 30s. If you are young you can pull anything off - almost. This is far from cute or stylish even if celebrities wear it.

Here you have it, all you need to know about what shoes to wear with leggings, leggings in the summer and the don't do it with leggings. Make sure to heck out my other tips on how to be fashionable and still be you. I have written past posts on whether pantyhose are in and out of fashion and that one got a lot of comments!










Once in a while I do a product review. This is where I am either contacted by a company like Luminess to try and write about their product or I just find something I really like or dislike and blog about it. All sponsored blog posts are tagged in such a way but opinions are my owned. {All content on this blog is copyright and shall not to be reproduced or republished without consent of Fashion For Real People.}

This week I tried Luminess AirSupremacy Beauties, a spray foundation similar to Dior air flash spray foundation but much lower in price. The product is said to provide coverage without being heavy for up to 18 hours.

The kit came with three bottles which included two different shades of foundation and a blush. The kit also included directions and a blending brush.

I had tried spray foundation before by Revlon and hated it, so I was perplexed and intimidated by another spray foundation. I am always afraid to get the foundation in my eyes or all over my dress and it just seems unnatural. I pledged to try the product every day for 2 weeks with different applications and techniques to see the versatility of the product and whether I would actually make the habit of using it. Both pictures in this post show different use of the same product. To see how I looked before or sans make up you can refer to one of my older blog post.
Luminess Spray Foundation Application

The first application came by following the directions from the manufacture: apply the product directly on the face and blend. Alternatively, apply on the brush first and then blend. I prefer applying on the face as I could see how the product was on my skin.

The second day I used the product to contouring my face, as I am pretty loyal to my contouring makeup palette and even had a tutorial on how to apply contouring. Having two different shades was optimal. I used the lighter foundation as an highlighter and the dark to define my jaw line and nose area. I finished the application with the blush.

The third day, I only tried one color and sprayed it fast all over the face, without even looking. I was in a rush and still wanted to have some make up on. I used the brush to blend everything and I was done in 2 minutes.

By the 15 day, I was using the product so smoothly without even thinking about it. All my initial hesitation was gone. I am impressed by the product for one reason: it is easy and fast to apply. It also provides coverage but looks natural, which is something important to me. In fact I pervasively discussed on this blog how to get a natural look using make up. I am such a busy person and lazy that I hate working on make up in the morning. I just want something fast that makes me look and feel decent. Sometimes even with tons of contouring products I still look tired and you can tell the accumulation of products on my face. Add humidity to that and you get the hang over effect. With Luminess AirSpray Foundation (@LuminessAir) I never felt like that. It is very natural looking and light. It is so light that I even slept on it one time because I did not feel the need to take it off. I know it is bad but this product is awesome. I like having two shades so I can alter and adjust the color as needed. The brush is super helpful. I don't think another brush would work. The blush I did not care about. I ended up using my own highlight product, but I don't regularly use blush.

I would be curious to try this product in the summer when it is miserably hot and humid in Florida. Otherwise, this is a product I will continue using for its versatility and ease of use. And for lazy girls like me this is optimal.

{All content on this blog is copyright and shall not to be reproduced or republished without consent of Fashion For Real People. Top photo by Mallory Brooks, bottom by Ginevra Adamoli.