TOUCHING WOOD…

I really love giving books as Christmas presents, especially books about Italian art, handicrafts, touring, food and wine. And there won’t be any exception to the rule this year, since I’ll be offering to three of my friends the beautiful “Woodworking : Traditional Craft for Modern Living”.

The authors of this book, Andrea Brugi and Samina Langholz, an Italo-Danish husband-and-wife duo, very nicely show how anyone, without the tools or expertise of an artisan, and by blending Tuscan elegance with the sleek lines of Scandinavian design, can turn bits of reclaimed wood into stools, egg cups, clothes racks, and what have you.

Exclusively crafted in their Maremma workshop, Andrea and Samina’s olive wood creations can be found on their website, in selected shops around the world, and on their Instagram.

 

Katharina's Italy

HARPSICHORD TRADE SECRETS

You certainly are familiar with the sound of the harpsichord, and would probably recognize the instrument itself if you saw one. But have you ever seen how it is built?

Last week, I was walking across Castelmuzio, a lovely Tuscan village not far from Pienza, when I randomly peeped through the window of an artisan workspace, expecting to see leather bags, wrought iron or the like… Instead, I stumbled upon harpsichords in the making!

Bruce Kennedy has been building harpsichords for more than 40 years, in Switzerland, the Netherlands and now in Tuscany. He has also founded the Piccola Accademia di Montisi, which organizes a festival each summer, as well as master classes and harpsichord lessons all year round. Find more photos of Bruce’s skills on our Instagram page!

 

Katharina's Italy

In Audrey Hepburn’s Two-Wheeled Wake

I did it, at long last! Wandering about the streets of Rome on Italy’s iconic motor scooter, the Vespa!

I had been dreaming of this since I had first seen, as a child, the 1953 romantic comedy film “Roman Holiday”, in which the beautiful woman I was lucky enough to call my godmother, Audrey Hepburn, drives through the Eternal City astride a silvery, fidgety Vespa.

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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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