Canoeing on a Tuscan river

The Italian coastline does not need an introduction. But have you ever explored one of the country’s rivers? After 30 years in Italy, I finally ventured onto the Ombrone River in Southern Tuscany.

The Ombrone crosses the Parco della Maremma nature reserve before joining the Tyrrhenian sea south of Grosseto. The park is a bird watching paradise, but also a place to spot wild boars and deer, and the local guides are happy to point out all the lesser known fauna and flora.

The canoes – joined together in pairs – are very stable and make for a safe activity for families with children. The Silva cooperative organizes different types of tours at dawn, in the afternoon and during full moon. My favourite one is, of course, the sunset paddle that includes a glass of white wine. The canoes are equipped with an electric motor if your group gets tired of rowing back upstream.

CANOE TOURS in the Maremma Park

Prices range from 20 to 35€ per person depending on activity (reduced rates for children up to 12 years).  Bring a hat, sunscreen and bottled water, and combine it with a bike ride or a swim.

 

Katharina's Italy

DONATELLO, THE RENAISSANCE

In March 2022, the most important Donatello exhibition ever opens its doors in Florence. Over 50 museums from all over the world have lent works by the famous Renaissance master.

The exhibition takes place at Palazzo Strozzi and the Bargello museum, the permanent home of Donatello’s David. Works from Florence’s Basilica di San Lorenzo and Siena’s Cathedral have been moved for the first time and painstakingly restored for this occasion.

From September 2022, the exhibition will be on show in Berlin and in 2023 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. However, the works from Siena Cathedral and Basilica di San Lorenzo will be on show in Italy only.

DONATELLO, The Renaissance – Florence Palazzo Strozzi & Bargello museum, March 19 to July 31, 2022

 

Katharina's Italy

ONE OF SIENA’S HIDDEN TREASURES

On October 5 of the year 1554, more than 250 orphans were bluntly expelled from the Republic of Siena. The city had been under siege for 9 months and its government decreed that the best way forward to hold out against the enemy was to get rid of its bocche disutili, its “useless mouths”. And during the following months, another 4000 citizens, mostly children, unmarried women and elderly souls, were sent packing by the same token.

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A RENAISSANCE VIRTUOSA

Last month, my daughter returned from school one day with an elated heart: “Mummy, I have to write a theme about some artists! Female artists!”

I responded with a big smile and asked my daughter whether she had anybody in mind already. She said she absolutely wanted to talk about Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe, whose works were, to some extent, familiar to her. Then she pressed me for suggestions.

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WHEN IN ITALY, LEAVE NO SITE UNTURNED

This happens to all of us: time and time again you pass by a place without ever paying much attention to it, and then one day, God knows why, you finally decide to stop and have a close look at what you’ve been disregarding for so many years.

One morning, last July, my instinct made me deflect from my usual route and call in at the Tuscan town of Chianciano Terme – which you may have heard of if you’ve ever stayed at our nearby Trust & Travel La Foce estate. Chianciano Terme had its heydays in the 50s and 60s, and the spa vacations he spent there inspired Federico Fellini with several scenes of his 1963 feature film .

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A MUSEUM ON HIGH HEELS

If the shoe fits, wear it… Well, I will gladly sport any Italian quality shoe that fits me! – did I ever tell you that I’m a bit of a footwear appassionata too?

Italy’s first shoemaking factory opened its doors at the end of the 19th century in Stra, a small town located on the east bank of the Brenta River about halfway between Venice and Padua. And during the following decades, the “Made in Italy along the Brenta” stamp became synonymous with high quality shoes.

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BIKING ALONG THE TYRRHENIAN SEA

Some day – hopefully in a not too distant future – we’ll be able to cycle along the Mediterranean coast on a dedicated bike path that will stretch from the Eternal City all the way to the French-Italian border in Ventimiglia. According to an official project ratified in 2016 by the regions of Liguria, Lazio and Tuscany, the local cycling trails which already exist will be complemented with many new sections so as to form the uninterrupted 1200 km long Ciclovia Tirrenica!

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TESTING WATERS IN TUSCANY

Ah, springtime!… Longer days, blooming trees, twirling swallows and, above all, – I may have mentioned this to you before – my very first swim of the year in the Mediterranean!

This inaugural sea dip usually takes place in April somewhere on the Tuscan coast. This year, though, because of a persistent cold North wind, it looked as if this ritual might have to be postponed to some later date. But having finally decided against any rain check, my family and I tried our luck at one of the South-facing bays on the Monte Argentario peninsula, and found nothing else there than a little patch of paradise…

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RECYCLED CYCLING IN ITALY

Last week, thanks to the downloadable Mobike app, I spent a whole day whizzing through Florence on three or four bicycles – which I used one after the other, not simultaneously, in case you wonder.

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IN DAYS OF OLD AND OF NEW

San Gimignano… A lovely Tuscan town famous for its 13 medieval “tower houses” – and which I invited you, in a previous article, to visit in the much quieter wintertime. But the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages”, as it is nicknamed, is also one of the best places in Italy to see… contemporary art!

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