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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Celebrating the Precious Tuscan Olive

You may remember, dear readers, that I recently wrote an article about the festive sagre, these celebrations held in myriad villages and towns in Italy, all year round, and during which you can taste local delicacies and enjoy a most convivial atmosphere.

A few weeks ago, in the lovely village of Montisi, south-east of Siena, I discovered the Sagra del Primo Olio, entirely dedicated to the freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil, and a great opportunity for the uninitiated to see how this magic nectar is actually produced.

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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 Special Instagram Magic

It is no secret among my friends that I am a little old-fashioned when it comes to communicating via social media. I still get on the blower a great deal (the smart version) and am more likely to send emails than text messages through Facebook or Twitter. In fact, if you happen to be one of our Trust & Travel clients and partners, you may have noticed that our Twitter account has evaporated – I could never quite get the hang of it!

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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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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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