A GREAT TRATTORIA TREAT

Why on earth did I think that Italy no longer held any secrets for me?… I came down with a bump when my beloved sister Victoria Trauttmansdorff made me discover a gem of a little Florentine restaurant situated within the lively Sant’Ambrogio market.

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GOOD OLD NEW SARTEANO

When I drop by a village bar in Italy, I often see, hanging on the wall, a black and white photo showing the town’s central piazza filled with lively locals – a scene which unfailingly makes me daydream about the good old days. Then I look through the window, from my table, and get a glimpse of the same town square as the one in the picture, only to realise that things have changed quite a bit: the present-day piazza is either desolate or overcrowded with tourists…

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THE PALAZZO BUTERA OF PALERMO

A few months ago, I could have given you a thousand good reasons to visit Sicily – if you needed any. But this number, in my book, has recently gone up to one thousand and one, like in the celebrated Middle Eastern saga.

The latest addition is the Palazzo Butera, an immense and freshly restored Baroque palace located in the heart of Palermo, and which will be home to the exquisite art collection of Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi.

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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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CASATO PRIME DONNE

Years ago, during a dinner in Montalcino, I overheard winemaker Donatella Cinelli Colombini tell the story of her winery. When she started producing her own Brunello wine in 1998, she wanted to hire a young cellar master. So she got in touch with the University of Siena to ask whether there were any graduates looking for a job. And the answer was: No, unfortunately they Continue Reading →

FLORENCE AND YOUR… AUTOMOBILE

In large cities, one of the greatest challenges posed to car owners is, of course, parking one’s beloved motorcar.

This is one of the top five questions I hear from our clients visiting Florence: “Will I easily find a place to park?” Continue Reading →

A RINGSIDE SEAT IN VENICE

At any time of the year, our Palazzo Ca’nova Borsato apartment offers a breathtaking view of the Serenissima’s Grand Canal. But during the world-famous Carnival, this view becomes nothing less than spellbinding. The above is a snapshot I took last year of the Venetian Rowing Association water parade, which I watched right from the Borsato apartment’s window.

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TINTORETTO, 500 YEARS LATER

Rumour has it that the great Tintoretto, born Jacopo Comin in 1518, and nicknamed Il Furioso for his phenomenal brushstroke energy, had written this inspirative motto on the walls of his studio: MICHELANGO’S DRAWING AND TITIAN’S COLOUR.

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LIVORNO’S GREAT SNACK

Every once in a while – and always when I’m embarking on a New Year – I feel the urge to gorge myself on a delicious cecina, a chickpea flatbread which is the typical street food of Liguria and Northern Tuscany.

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