The extraordinary Palio of Siena

You have always wanted to attend Siena’s famous Palio, but never did because of the dense crowds and stifling heat that come with it when it takes place, in the heart of summer?

Well, here’s your chance of a lifetime: a Palio Straordinario, a unique “extraordinary” edition of the far-famed horse race, will be held on Saturday, October 20, 2018, to commemorate the end of World War I.

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Pontremoli by Word of Mouth

Do you still remember the time when TripAdvisor and the like did not exist? When it was creatures of flesh and blood – and not applications and algorithms – who pointed and steered you, in a confidential tone, to a little-known gem of a restaurant, a picturesque back road or an unfrequented beauty spot?

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An Autumn Swim in the Mediterranean

They are everywhere… Over the last twenty years, the monotonous Monobloc – a lightweight stackable polypropene chair, often white in colour – has proliferated like mushrooms all over the world, and most noticeably at beach bars and seaside resorts.

The numbers make your head spin: a billion Monoblocs have been sold in Europe alone, and I’m told that one Italian manufacturer turns out 10 million units a year!

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One of Italy’s Most Beautiful Food Markets

I have always loved wandering in the aisles of markets, covered or open-air ones.

So when I found out, in Giulia Scarpaleggia’s excellent cookbook, From the Markets of Tuscany, that Livorno’s market is probably the liveliest and most impressive in the whole of Italy, I decided it was high time for a visit.

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A New Generation Festival in Florence

In Italy, the patronymic Corsini has long been a household name, especially in Tuscany and in Florence, where the Corsini princely family has been playing a leading role since the 14th century.

Constructed between 1650 and 1700, the monumental Palazzo Corsini sul Lungarno opens onto the legendary Arno, the river which peacefully meanders through the Renaissance city.

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My Italy of the Good Old Days

“I really like the way you’ve furnished your bar, Francesco. No wonder people keep flocking in.
— Thanks for the compliment, Katharina. I think I’ve been lucky.
— Lucky, I don’t know, but you’ve sure done something right. Remind me, when did you set up shop?
— About a year ago. Already! Come vola il tempo…
— You’re telling me!”

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A Musical Feast in the Heart of Tuscany

One of Tuscany’s most intimate and charming festivals turns 30 next month. No small feat for a chamber music festival in Italy today! Founded by Benedetta Origo, the owner of Villa La Foce, and her son, cellist Antonio Lysy, Incontri in Terra di Siena features world-class artists in the most beautiful venues of the Val d’Orcia.

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A Sweet Pre-Latin Aperitivo in Vetulonia

Before moving to the bel paese, I had barely heard about the Etruscans, a rich and remarkable civilization who flourished in ancient Italy until they were conquered and assimilated by the more powerful Latin polity.

The ancient Romans often referred to them as the “Tusci”, from which “Tuscany” has been derived. They also borrowed from them many of their ingenious inventions in agriculture and road construction.

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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. Continue Reading →



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