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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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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A Sparkling Gem in the Tuscan Archipelago

Until a few years ago, when we happened to be sojourning, my family and I, in the Maremma, an excursion on the Isle of Giglio used to be one of our favourite day-trip options.

Then, after the Costa Concordia ship disaster in 2012 – which took place off Giglio Porto, the tiny harbour of the island, – we abstained from visiting this beautiful gem of the Tuscan Archipelago. Ferries leaving from Porto Santo Stefano began to take hordes of snoopy tourists to the shipwreck area and affect the surroundings with unpleasant congestion, especially during the high season.

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Trasimeno Lake Dream

I have never tired of the view… During the day, the waters of the majestic lake are often peaceful and turquoise blue, and in the distance stands out the hieratic Isola Maggiore, the island where Saint Francis of Assisi spent forty days as a hermit in the early 13th century. Continue Reading →

A Cool Place to Visit this Summer

The Leaning Tower of Pisa… Who has not seen it, at least in pictures, and tried to imagine what it feels like to be at its top, precariously tilting some 50 meters above ground?!… The prospect of such a thrill will definitely make your children pull you by the arm: “Mum, Dad, let’s climb up there!”

But in the high season, when you’re assailed with the hot spells and sightseeing hordes, even the most magnetic landmarks get a lot less attractive – to youngsters and grown-ups alike! So it’s always nice to have in store satisfactory alternatives.

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Off the Beaten Tracks in Italy

I came to a dead stop and rubbed my eyes in total disbelief… My friend Rudston, here, in the heart of a remote hamlet of Sardinia?

The last time I had seen him, it was in Paris more than a year ago. We had met to catch up and talk about this and that over an exquisite lunch in an elegant restaurant. Rudston was dressed up to the nines, with a fresh haircut, I remember.

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A Ghost Abbey in the Heart of Tuscany

Where on Earth had we landed?… A frolicsome sprite, hidden somewhere behind a decrepit stone wall, replied to me in a hushed voice: “In the depths of the Middle Ages, in a world long sunk into oblivion…” And my daughter – who had been devouring a Harry Potter book lately, – looked up at me with her round, sparkling eyes:
“Mummy, did you hear that little voice?”
“What little voice, darling?…”

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Seaside Bliss in Capalbio

A lunch at the beach… Few things in life make my family and I as contented as sharing a nice seaside meal with our best friends. My daughter and her young accomplices enjoy the blue waters and endless sandy playground; my husband scrutinizes the distant horizon before religiously considering the menu and wine list; and I, well, I fill up my lungs with the intoxicating marine ether and exchange beatific smiles with the world around me…

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A Feast for the Eye and the Blessed Memory

It was last summer, during my very first visit to the Ca’nova Palazzo. At one point, escorted by the delightful owners of the premises, I walked into one of the spacious rooms and uttered under my breath: “Wow!” Then I glided over to the window opening onto the Grand Canal and went again, but in a louder tone this time: “Wooow!”

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The Best Time to Enjoy the Maremma Park

I must have told you once or twice, in previous posts, that the Maremma Regional Park in Tuscany is one of my favourite nature reserves in the whole of Italy. It is also known, by the way, as the Parco dell’Uccelina, the Park of the Moonraker – this beautiful word, “moonraker”, referring to the small sails flown at the very top of old sailing ships. Don’t ask me where this second name comes from, though; I haven’t looked into the story yet.

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