The Italian Capital Within Arm’s Reach

Good news: all roads lead to Rome and, in some cases, will take you back to your starting point before the end of the day!

I experienced this two or three times last summer. After an early morning swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea, I hopped on a train, spent the day in Rome – combining business with pleasure, – and returned to my Mediterranean seaside just in time for the sunset extravaganza.

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A Sparkling Gem in the Tuscan Archipelago

Until a few years ago, when we happened to be sojourning, my family and I, in the Maremma, an excursion on the Isle of Giglio used to be one of our favourite day-trip options.

Then, after the Costa Concordia ship disaster in 2012 – which took place off Giglio Porto, the tiny harbour of the island, – we abstained from visiting this beautiful gem of the Tuscan Archipelago. Ferries leaving from Porto Santo Stefano began to take hordes of snoopy tourists to the shipwreck area and affect the surroundings with unpleasant congestion, especially during the high season.

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East or West? All at Sea in the Discussion…

I was recently having a drink with a group of Italian friends, in the Maremma. We were talking about seaside holidays when, at one point, our lovely Simonetta asked us:

“Which would you say are the most beautiful sea fronts and sea views of mainland Italy?
– Oh, the sixty-four thousand dollar question!” some of us replied.
And our expansive Giancarlo went one better:
“Do you know how much coastline Italy has in all, including the islands?”

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Italians Like Their Pint Too…

Martin Luther, the famous priest and reforming theologian (1483-1546), once declared: “Beer is made by men, wine by God.”

Well, this is a nice pronouncement. But I think I might have tasted, on several occasions over the past few years, divine wines that had been made by mortals, as well as excellent beers which seemed to be coming straight from the heavens – and some of those beers were Italian!

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Seaside Bliss in Capalbio

A lunch at the beach… Few things in life make my family and I as contented as sharing a nice seaside meal with our best friends. My daughter and her young accomplices enjoy the blue waters and endless sandy playground; my husband scrutinizes the distant horizon before religiously considering the menu and wine list; and I, well, I fill up my lungs with the intoxicating marine ether and exchange beatific smiles with the world around me…

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Motorway Services the Italian Way

The laws or quirks of fate, call it what you want… I had driven by this former petrol station at least a dozen times before, either in too much of a hurry to drop by, or frustrated by the fact that it was after closing hours. But two weeks ago, at long last, fortune smiled on me: the store was open and I wasn’t, for once, in any big rush.

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The Best Time to Enjoy the Maremma Park

I must have told you once or twice, in previous posts, that the Maremma Regional Park in Tuscany is one of my favourite nature reserves in the whole of Italy. It is also known, by the way, as the Parco dell’Uccelina, the Park of the Moonraker – this beautiful word, “moonraker”, referring to the small sails flown at the very top of old sailing ships. Don’t ask me where this second name comes from, though; I haven’t looked into the story yet.

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Paolo, the Tuscan Fisherman

Do you remember Talamone, this little harbour town lying on the Southern coast of Tuscany? I told you about it in a previous blog post. Well, true, this was almost two years ago, so I won’t blame you if you haven’t kept in mind this piece of information…

Anyway, my daughter, husband and I have made it a family tradition to drive to Talamone whenever we are staying in the Maremma in the summer months. We usually go there in the late afternoon, primarily to jump into the Mediterranean sea from the high rocks of Women’s Bay – my daughter and I just can’t get enough of these aerobatic stunts, I confess – and to enjoy a refreshing aperitivo at the beachside bar, where they serve superlative mojitos.

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Grand Harmonies in a Grand Setting

 

Oscar Peterson once said: “I believe in using the entire piano as a single instrument capable of expressing every possible musical idea.”

I have always loved the piano; music written for or played at the piano. Katja, who organizes our “expert tours” in Tuscany – and who happens to dwell in the beautiful hills of the Maremma, – had been telling me for a while about the now celebrated Amiata Piano Festival held once a year in the small Italian town of Cinigiano, a festival which has been inviting from the international scene some of the finest musicians. “You really have to discover this festival, Katharina. I swear you’ll be sent into transports of delight!”

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A Voyage Back in Time

Cogito ergo sum… Fluctuat nec mergitur… Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant… How is your Latin these days? You don’t have, I guess, that many opportunities to practice it, do you? But I’ll give you this week an opportunity to visit old Roman ruins if you happen to be in the Maremma region during your next holidays. Continue Reading →



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