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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East or West? All at Sea in the Discussion…

I was recently having a drink with a group of Italian friends, in the Maremma. We were talking about seaside holidays when, at one point, our lovely Simonetta asked us:

“Which would you say are the most beautiful sea fronts and sea views of mainland Italy?
– Oh, the sixty-four thousand dollar question!” some of us replied.
And our expansive Giancarlo went one better:
“Do you know how much coastline Italy has in all, including the islands?”

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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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Chestnut Wisdom

Carry a chestnut in your pocket and you’ll never run out of money… No, this is not a piece of advice that I’m trying to give you. It’s a German saying: Eine Kastanie in der Tasche und du hast immer Geld.

When I was a student in my teen years – a penniless student, – I did carry a chestnut in my pocket for several months. Not much happened in terms of personal enrichment, unfortunately. So I gave up on the chestnut trick after a while. But one thing I have never given up on is my long relaxing walks in the chestnut groves of Tuscany.

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Olive Harvest Week in Tuscany

Let’s start with a little quiz… The “thing” is edible, naturally liquid, and can taste of sage, artichokes, bananas, peppers, tomatoes or freshly cut grass. And when it is of high quality, it will scratch your throat a little bit…

And the answer is… Yes, olive oil. You’ve guessed right. And do you know where some of the best olive oils in the world are produced?… In the Bel Paese, of course!

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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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