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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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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The Great Mercato Centrale in Florence

One of my favourite places in Florence is the Mercato Centrale, also known as the Mercato di San Lorenzo, the largest food market in town. A beautiful glass and cast-iron construction, it was designed over 140 years ago by Giovanni Mengoni, an architect who also built the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

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Another Exceptional Tailor

“If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.” You will never guess who said that… Albert Einstein.

Here is the story of another great Italian tailor whom I met just a few weeks ago. I was with a good friend of mine, walking down the main street of Castagneto Carducci, a hilltop town in the Tuscan Maremma. At one point, we spontaneously stopped in front of a tailor shop, unsure about what to do. Continue Reading →

Having a Fine Lunch in Grosseto

When travelling around Italy to visit the houses and villas featured in our Trust & Travel rental catalogue, I always try to see or do something new. This keeps my job interesting – and my blog as well, doesn’t it?

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