Italian Leather Craftsmanship

My love for the bel paese has always been closely related to my passion for fine leather bags. And when I say “fine leather bags”, I don’t necessarily mean Gucci or Prada – even though I would not turn the precious item down if you offered me one. Since I first set foot in Italy, I have always revelled in discovering and supporting lesser-known artisan leather brands.

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They Are Simply Everywhere!

Oh, look Mummy, there’s a mosquito sagra around here! Can we go? Pleeeaaase!

This was two years ago, in August. My family and I were leisurely driving through the Italian province of Ferrara, along secondary roads, on our way to our treasured Tuscany.

My daughter was already, at that time, a seasoned sagra spotter and unconditional sagra lover. We were driving down a hairpin bend when she suddenly caught sight, between two yawns, of a colourful poster announcing the Festa mondiale della zanzara, the International Mosquito Fair…

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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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Sartorial Elegance in Montalcino

“You have created most of these lovely dresses and jackets, Renata?
– Yes, Katharina, my sister and I have designed them. The bags and scarves too.
– Wow! Talent obviously runs in the family…
– I’m afraid so.

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Chestnut Wisdom

Carry a chestnut in your pocket and you’ll never run out of money… No, this is not a piece of advice that I’m trying to give you. It’s a German saying: Eine Kastanie in der Tasche und du hast immer Geld.

When I was a student in my teen years – a penniless student, – I did carry a chestnut in my pocket for several months. Not much happened in terms of personal enrichment, unfortunately. So I gave up on the chestnut trick after a while. But one thing I have never given up on is my long relaxing walks in the chestnut groves of Tuscany.

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The world’s densest vineyard

If you like good coffee, as I do, the brandname Illy must be familiar to you. Last August, during a concert given in Tuscany by Mark Springer, I was introduced to Francesco Illy, a member of the Italian family who founded the now internationally renowned Illycaffè company.

At one point in our friendly conversation, Francesco revealed to me that he owned and ran a winery near Montalcino, a town located 120 km south of Florence in the heart of one of Italy’s best winemaking regions.

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Behind the Scenes of Siena’s Palio

 

– Mummy, I want to “vote” for the Leocorno, my daughter told me with big round eyes.
– The Unicorn? You want to support the Unicorn team?
– Yes! And George says he wants to support the Elephant!
– Well… I’m afraid there is no Elephant team in the race, darling.
– Ah… I’ll go tell him to support something else then.
– Good idea. Continue Reading →

Artichoke Hearts in the Heart of Tuscany

“A woman is like an artichoke: you must work hard to get to her heart.” You will never guess who said that… Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Yes, the French – and always gallant – police detective featured in the Pink Panther, the famous movie series on the art of sensible investigation. Remember? Continue Reading →

Little Easter in a Great Garden

The Kiss… The Tomb of the Poet… Nine Astrological Aspects… Cathedral no 6… The Grass Sofas… The Eternal Lunch… An Island in an Island… The Beauty and the Beast… Make Something as Big as the Eiffel Tower… No, I’m not rambling, I’m just trying to arouse your interest.

What are your plans for this coming Easter? I have a great scheme for you… Continue Reading →



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