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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A Nice Little Mess in Montisi

A few weeks ago, under clear blue skies, I was on my way from Montalcino to Perugia when the fancy of a good Italian coffee insidiously took me. I decided to make a stop in Montisi, a lovely village which I hadn’t visited in ages.

I was strolling down Montisi’s main street, heading towards the bar I had made out from a distance, when I got sidetracked by a little shop on my right. Atop the entrance I could read the words Macelleria Casini – “macelleria” being the Italian word for “butcher’s shop”. Not a single chunk of fresh meat was displayed in the window, though; just a colourful kaleidoscope of printed textiles.

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Architecturally Yours

Are you, dear reader, a candid Instagram addict like me? If so, you must have seen – perhaps even reposted ? – a photograph of an indoor swimming pool which, by now, is probably familiar to millions of people around the world. This picture appears in the “slideshow” just above this article.

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Cosy, Multipurpose and Florentine to the Core

The gradual disappearance of bookshops, especially the small independent ones, is something that has truly saddened me over the past few years. Just in Paris, for instance, close to a hundred book stores have closed down since 2010.

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A Tall and Spicy Story

The best season to visit Italy can sometimes be… winter! Yes, the cold season. Take the small hill town of San Gimignano, for instance – known as the “Town of Fine Towers”, and also nicknamed the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages” or “Manhattan of Tuscany”. The historic centre of San Gimignano, by the way, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. Continue Reading →

A Passion for Tuscan Cuisine

I was in Florence last month, strolling across the Ponte Vecchio, when my phone rang. I answered it:

“Hi Katharina, it’s Emiko.
– Oh, Emiko! How have you been?”
We exchanged a few words and then Emiko said:
“Since you’re in the area, would you like to come over for lunch tomorrow?
– I’d love to!”

When a talented cookbook writer invites you over for a home-cooked lunch, this is an offer you can’t refuse.

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A Florentine Landmark Has Been Reborn

“Oh no, La Ménagère is closing down, really?”… This is a cry of disbelief one could hear on the lips of Florentines, over and over again, some ten years ago; La Ménagère, a famous and lovely houseware store founded in 1896, would soon be a thing of the past.

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Italian Porcelain Art at its Peak

My friends were stealing a glance at me with a quizzical eyebrow. I know what they were thinking deep down inside, especially their two teenage kids: “You’re really taking us to a porcelain museum, Katharina? Are you sure it’s worth the detour?… Are you in your right mind?…”

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Friends and Food: Always in Season in Italy

When I think of the four seasons in Italy, they always remind me of… food. Well, first of all, don’t we say “to season a dish”?

But the fact is that I can also connect each of the four seasons, in my memory, with countless lunches, dinners and cooking classes that I have had the opportunity to share with friends in Italy over the years.

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A Great Mix of Wines and Stones

In the heart of Tuscany lies a magnificent town which is exceptional in many respects. Founded by the Etruscans in the first millenium BC… Home to a historic center that has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO… Famous for its architecture, gastronomy, art museums and a colourful medieval horse race taking place twice a year… And the answer is…

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