The foodie connections uniting the Capital are being celebrated in style with a series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of Edinburgh being twinned with Florence.
Edinburgh Makar Christine de Luca has written a poem to mark the milestone, while Paul Wedgwood will cook up a Scottish-Italian feast during a special visit to the Tuscan capital.
The week-long civic visit to Florence is intended to cement the cultural links between the cities and boost Edinburgh’s profile in Italy as a tourist destination.
Paul, who runs Wedgwood the Restaurant in the Canongate, will take also part in a “chef swap” to promote Edinburgh as a culinary destination. He will take a week-long residency in a Florence restaurant to cook traditional Scottish dishes with an Italian twist.
Later, Florence will return the favour when a guest chef comes to October’s Edinburgh Restaurant Festival.
Ms de Luca’s poem describes Edinburgh’s shared love of food in “Soil, sea and soul” which she will recite in both English and Italian.
Lord Provost Donald Wilson, who will also be attending civic events in Florence this week, said the two cities shared “two very important features” despite being more than 1000 miles apart.
He said: “Both are designated Unesco World Heritage cities and both are creative cities which are renowned for celebrating culture.
“Edinburgh has a huge number of first, second and third generation Italian-Scots residents and over the years the two cultures have become inseparable.
“The Edinburgh Makar’s poem and chef swap initiative celebrates the two cities’ shared passion for creativity. My hope is that this trip helps to promote Edinburgh’s fantastic culinary and cultural offering, allows us to exchange educational and heritage opportunities with Florence, and strengthens the bonds developed over the last 50 years.”
Events during the stay will include a guided tour of historic sights, a city twinning anniversary ceremony and a parade culminating in a historical football match on the city’s patron saint day.
Ms de Luca said: “I’ve enjoyed ‘cooking up’ a poem to fit the occasion. I’m sure it will sound better in Italian which always seems a naturally poetic language.”
The city council has spent £2300 on the trip but Florence will foot the bill for food, drink, accommodation and internal travel during their stay.
The city council will also pay for Florentine dignitaries when they come to visit in October.
£987.15 of the money forked out on the trip has been spent on return flights to Italy for the Lord Provost and an accompanying city officer and international officer.
The chef swap will cost £470, though a council spokeswoman stressed that Mr Wedgwood was supporting the event by covering the cost of his business manager’s travel, his trainee’s travel and transport of his own equipment.
The council will pay a further £868 to fund the Makar’s poetry project, including travel costs, a commissioning fee and the printing and framing of her poem.