My Sweet Tuscan October

“Designers want me to dress like Spring, in billowing things. I don’t feel like Spring. I feel like a warm red Autumn…”

These words – which I can easily relate to – were delivered during the 1950s by Norma Jeane Mortenson, also known as Marilyn Monroe.

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The Italian Capital Within Arm’s Reach

Good news: all roads lead to Rome and, in some cases, will take you back to your starting point before the end of the day!

I experienced this two or three times last summer. After an early morning swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea, I hopped on a train, spent the day in Rome – combining business with pleasure, – and returned to my Mediterranean seaside just in time for the sunset extravaganza.

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An Electrifying Ride in the Chianti

Shortly after starting to work at Italy’s oldest winery, during the first years I spent in the bel paese, I was already dreaming of touring the bucolic Chianti region on one of those beautiful vintage delivery bicycles, the rusty, creaking, ramshackle type…

I must admit that I quickly gave up on the idea – even though I have always thought that there is no better way to explore a place than by walking or cycling. For the Chianti is a pretty hilly patch of land!… up, down, up, down… So much so that there is an official bike race, the Eroica, which re-enacts those heroic times when cyclists had to tackle the rough bumpy dirt roads of the region on unsophisticated heavy-set bicycles.

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Tuscany’s Endemic Coffee Dessert

Today, I would like to tell you about one of my favourite desserts: il caffè in forchetta. It is absolutely divine, terribly addictive, and it can only be found in the Val d’Orcia, in Southern Tuscany.

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They Are Simply Everywhere!

Oh, look Mummy, there’s a mosquito sagra around here! Can we go? Pleeeaaase!

This was two years ago, in August. My family and I were leisurely driving through the Italian province of Ferrara, along secondary roads, on our way to our treasured Tuscany.

My daughter was already, at that time, a seasoned sagra spotter and unconditional sagra lover. We were driving down a hairpin bend when she suddenly caught sight, between two yawns, of a colourful poster announcing the Festa mondiale della zanzara, the International Mosquito Fair…

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The Endless Pizza Puzzle

Are you planning to take a holiday, for the very first time, in an Italian villa or farmhouse? If so, chances are that, at some point during your stay, you will run into a small outbuilding within sniffing distance of your temporary place of abode: an old wood-fired bread oven.

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Cosy, Multipurpose and Florentine to the Core

The gradual disappearance of bookshops, especially the small independent ones, is something that has truly saddened me over the past few years. Just in Paris, for instance, close to a hundred book stores have closed down since 2010.

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A Tall and Spicy Story

The best season to visit Italy can sometimes be… winter! Yes, the cold season. Take the small hill town of San Gimignano, for instance – known as the “Town of Fine Towers”, and also nicknamed the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages” or “Manhattan of Tuscany”. The historic centre of San Gimignano, by the way, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. Continue Reading →

A Passion for Tuscan Cuisine

I was in Florence last month, strolling across the Ponte Vecchio, when my phone rang. I answered it:

“Hi Katharina, it’s Emiko.
– Oh, Emiko! How have you been?”
We exchanged a few words and then Emiko said:
“Since you’re in the area, would you like to come over for lunch tomorrow?
– I’d love to!”

When a talented cookbook writer invites you over for a home-cooked lunch, this is an offer you can’t refuse.

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Italians Like Their Pint Too…

Martin Luther, the famous priest and reforming theologian (1483-1546), once declared: “Beer is made by men, wine by God.”

Well, this is a nice pronouncement. But I think I might have tasted, on several occasions over the past few years, divine wines that had been made by mortals, as well as excellent beers which seemed to be coming straight from the heavens – and some of those beers were Italian!

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