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If you prefer the small group to the large, this tour just might be the best tour of Florence you will ever find.

Other reasons are best stated by Ruth Kirchmeier, West Tisbury artist and art tour participant in October 2014:

“You are in for a feast of the senses. When you travel to Florence with Marsha, you are going with someone who is at ease with the language and the labyrinthine streets, and whose connections there are like her family and so you are warmly welcomed into their lives. Her high card is the fabulous Fabrizio Gori, whose unusual insights on art, architecture, history and culture in Florence are belied by his gentle, wry tone. Did I mention his restaurant is one of the best in the city?”

You will stay in one of two apartments very near to one another, two minutes from Palazzo Pitti and five from Ponte Vecchio. Because they are on a very narrow street behind Via Romana, it is quiet. At one end is the tiny, charming Piazza delle Passera (Plaza of the Sparrows) where you will find the even tinier Cafe degli Artigiani , a lovely place to have your first cappuccino and pasta crema of the day, or perhaps, spremuto, fresh squeezed juice from blood oranges. In the same square can be found home-made gelato in heavenly flavors like blood orange sorbetto and espresso gelato using the same coffee used at the Café degli Artisti across the street. These and three little restaurants are literally 50 feet from your door.

DIY breakfast supplies will be furnished at your apartment and afterwards we meet at a cafe to look at the day’s plan and either follow or amend what has been scheduled.

Typically, I will guide you into town winding around the medieval streets with a museum or church as our destination. After a café or lunch break in town, you have 2 to 3 hours of free time which might be employed in resting on the first day, but is yours to design.

After 2 or 3 days, you will want to explore on your own a bit with the map I will provide for everyone. A city bus pass is part of your packet too. Later we meet for a stroll around the historic neighborhood in which we are staying (called the Oltrarno, other side of the Arno) sometimes with my dear and knowledgeable friend Fabrizio Gori. (Sadly, my dear friend passed away in 2020.)

On other days we will use the whole day to make trips to the exquisite Etruscan hilltop town of Fiesole for a hike through the countryside to the magnificent 350 year old Queen Cypress, as this venerable tree is officially named. Or to the gardens of Villa Peyrun. Or to the Etruscan/Roman ruins. It depends on the group’s choice. What is certain is that we will have a reservation for dinner at Vinandro, a unique little restaurant in Fiesole that prepares Tuscan and Florentine dishes with a seasonal and local menu that changes daily.

We are also invited to Castello Vecchio, a beautiful villa up in the hills above Florence and owned by my gracious friends Manuela and Lucca Brofferrio. They have been supporters of my work in Zambia and when Manuella heard that I was bringing tour groups to Florence to raise money for the AACDP, she offered to open her house and garden to us. It is a rare privilege to enter through those gates!

Come enjoy “la dolce vita” in a way no tourist is able to do. At the same time help me support the Mama Bakhita Center for disabled children in Livingstone, Zambia. It’s all very, very good.

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In December of 2010 a man with a family of seven was illegally fired from his job at PAMA Meats where he had worked for eight years. The reason given was “growing corn in a restricted area”.

For eight years he had worked for the equivalent of $75 dollars a month in substandard housing with his family of seven. There was not enough money to send the children on the bus to school. But at least he knew that at the end of his tenure he would get a nice benefit package which, after eight years amounted to about $3000. Then he was fired for growing corn in a “restricted” area. He protested that no one had told him of this restriction and that other workers were growing corn in the same area. He was given no thirty day warning, no fair hearing and no chance to present his side, as required by law.

This man tried to protest this unfair treatment to PAMA management and was subjected to cancelled appointments and misinformation. Even the Labor Office in Mazabuka, which is charged with helping poor and often illiterate workers receive fair treatment, upheld the PAMA Meat’s illegal firing procedure. He was never informed about his right to a trial at the Industrial Relations Court in Lusaka, or that PAMA had not followed proper procedure. In fact, he was encouraged to take his case to the local court in Mazabuka, which has no jurisdiction in labor matters. Even so, they too judged against him.

Their first house after his firing was an unfinished house with no roof. For two years the family has been surviving as best they can.

In March of 2011 the AACDP learned about the Industrial Relations Court and tried to convince them that deceit and misinformation had been the reason this man had not brought the case to them when it occurred. But again, the court judged against him, saying he should “move on with his life ” because he will never get his terminal benefits or compensation for unfair dismissal. (Why not?) The judge further chastised him for spending his money on the case and “annoying” the court.??!!

He then went to the Legal Aid Board who advised that after all this time, evidence was lacking. Why PAMA’s provable illegal firing was not the important issue here was not explained. He was told that, should he appeal, all the legal costs of both sides would fall to him.

Is it right that a big corporation like PAMA should improperly dismiss a man after eight years, deny him what was owed, and face no penalty? Are the courts so uninterested in the poor? Why is seeking justice annoying?

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I used to work for an Indian woman in her shop. She sold chitenge (local clothwear) and sewing supplies and other things. But she was very hard to work for because she did not trust anyone, and if you stood for a minute with your arms folded across your chest, she would yell at you to get doing something. Even while customers were there, she would scream from across the room, 'You lazy good-for-nothing, get me more cloth!'

She would not let me eat or drink the whole day. All I could have was one small Mahel beer and a bun. But I got used (to it). Other workers would stay three, maybe four days and then they would be gone. You would just be getting used to working with them, and there would be a new one. No one could stand working for that lady. She used to treat me like a slave, making me carry her heavy bags of groceries as she walked three steps in front. But I had my children to feed and so I stood it for six months.

One day she accused me of stealing from her. I picked up my purse and set it on the counter in front of her. I said “Here. Look through my purse to see if there is anything there.” She looked and there was nothing, so I said “Ok. Now you can call your grandmother to come and help you, and your sister and your mother to come help you, from India. Because I am not going to help you anymore.” And I left.

I just stayed at home and relaxed. After three days, she sent her driver to my house. He told me that the woman wanted me to come back to work. I said No, I am not coming. He came back two more times, but I refused. For one month that woman tried to find someone to work for her. After the one month the driver came back,

” Mrs. Chanda is asking you to come back” I said Ok and went to her store.

Her husband came down to talk to me. He said “That was very bad, you should not quit like that.” I said, “She should not talk to me that way”.

After that time she treated me well, even bringing me food from her house sometimes for my lunch. It was very hot but I got used, and then I liked it. That woman and I became friends. She even raised my pay. I worked for her for three and a half years until she moved to America.

News from Zambia

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