Under the Tuscan Sun

When actor Colin Firth, an Academy Award winner, and Eco Age founder Livia Firth decide to actively foster a little-known refugee project in Southern Tuscany, you can reasonably surmise that they are on to something. Last December, the famous couple visited Crune Lab – a hub which operates as a meeting place, support network and sewing workshop for migrants and refugees – and returned home with bagfuls of handmade textile creations!

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The New Casamonti Museum in Florence

When the Eiffel tower was erected at the end of the 19th century, a big outcry was raised in Paris about the bold new monument. One could hear or read words such as “useless and hideous”, a “chimney stack”, a “truly tragic street lamp”, a “giant unsightly skeleton”…

In the early 16th century, many Florentines reacted pretty much in the same way when the Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni was being built. In fact, it was criticized to such a degree that its architect, Baccio d’Agnolo – who had designed the palace in the manner of Roman-style High Renaissance architecture – had the following words inscribed just above its main entrance: CARPERE PROMPTIUS QUAM IMITARI (lambasting is easier than imitating).

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A Little Palace of Art in Venice

The luxury of loving Italy… These are the very last words of Italian Hours, a collection of essays which the great Henry James wrote about the bel paese more than a century ago, and which I have recently read with great interest.

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Italian Leather Craftsmanship

My love for the bel paese has always been closely related to my passion for fine leather bags. And when I say “fine leather bags”, I don’t necessarily mean Gucci or Prada – even though I would not turn the precious item down if you offered me one. Since I first set foot in Italy, I have always revelled in discovering and supporting lesser-known artisan leather brands.

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High water in Venice

I had been to Venice a hundred times before, at least, and never, ever had I witnessed the phenomenon which I had been reading and hearing about for more than twenty years. And then it happened, at long last, on the 5th of November 2017. I was there and I saw it: Venice’s spectacular acqua alta. Its high water.

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A Dog’s Dolce Vita

My mother had a little smile: “Katharina, I would love to spend another holiday in Italy. But I worry about Daisy…”

Daisy… the cutest wire-haired dachshund on Earth!

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The Art and Heart of Assisi

Last month, I got into my car early in the morning, on a Tuesday, and drove down to the lovely medieval town of Assisi, situated in the very heart of Umbria.

I had a lunch appointment with my good friend Rebecca Winke, the writer who joined us for our recent Instagram event in Venice. She has a beautiful place of abode in Assisi’s historic town center.

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A Fine Venetian Linen Designer

I think I have already told you this once, perhaps even twice: I have been in love with linen and fabrics for a very long time, especially Italian ones.

Lying just a leisurely ten minutes’ walk from our Palazzo Ca’nova, one of my favourite shops in Venice happens to be successfully run by a highly talented fabric designer: Chiarastella Cattana.

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Pistoia – a Tuscan Town that is Worth the Detour

Every time I travel between Florence and Lucca – I must have done it a hundred times, – I drive through the charming medieval town of Pistoia, famous throughout Europe for its impressive and well-organized plant nurseries. And every time, without fail, I make the same resolution: “Ok, next time, I will stop and visit one or two of these nurseries.”

A resolution which, as you may have guessed, I haven’t yet fulfilled. Well, not entirely fulfilled, I should say. For I finally did stop in Pistoia a few weeks ago, urged to do so by my friend Molly, who invited me to join her in the heart of the Tuscan city.

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My favourite restaurant in Venice

During the time when I was working on the renovation of our Palazzo Ca’nova, I took countless walks in the area around it, just to explore, stretch my legs, get some fresh air…

On one occasion, I ended up on the Campo dell’Angelo Raffaele, a lovely piazza in the Dorsoduro neighbourhood. I have no idea how I landed up there, but this is the rule in Venice: getting lost in its labyrinth always leads you to the best surprises.

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