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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A CHILL IN THE AIR

April 1st,1939. The spectre of an all-out war in Europe is looming. The Anglo-American writer and philanthropist Iris Origo – then owner of the La Foce estate in the Val d’Orcia – has just written the following words in her diary:

‘Chamberlain’s pronouncement about Poland has been received with unexpected moderation in the press and with some enthusiasm privately – as being likely to put a brake on Hitler.
A country neighbour (small farmer – a shrewd, sensible, elderly man) has just been to lunch, Continue Reading →

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 →

HARPSICHORD TRADE SECRETS

You certainly are familiar with the sound of the harpsichord, and would probably recognize the instrument itself if you saw one. But have you ever seen how it is built?

Last week, I was walking across Castelmuzio, a lovely Tuscan village not far from Pienza, when I randomly peeped through the window of an artisan workspace, expecting to see leather bags, wrought iron or the like… Instead, I stumbled upon harpsichords in the making!

Bruce Kennedy has been building harpsichords for more than 40 years, in Switzerland, the Netherlands and now in Tuscany. He has also founded the Piccola Accademia di Montisi, which organizes a festival each summer, as well as master classes and harpsichord lessons all year round. Find more photos of Bruce’s skills on our Instagram page!

Katharina's Italy

Under the Tuscan Sun

When actor Colin Firth, an Academy Award winner, and Eco Age founder Livia Firth decide to actively foster a little-known refugee project in Southern Tuscany, you can reasonably surmise that they are on to something. Last December, the famous couple visited Crune Lab – a hub which operates as a meeting place, support network and sewing workshop for migrants and refugees – and returned home with bagfuls of handmade textile creations!

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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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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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The Ultimate Tuscan Wine Tours

In vino veritas. This is Latin and it means: “In wine there is truth”. Yes indeed, there is truth in wine, and a lot more as well – design, intent, know-how, genius and life!

Over the last 20 years, I have had the chance to visit scores of wineries in Italy, particularly in Tuscany. I have even worked at the Castello di Brolio (Barone Ricasoli) estate, Italy’s oldest continually operating winery. Yet, I still learn something new, something that astonishes me, every time I take another vineyard tour. Continue Reading →

A Great Organic Farm in Tuscany

Every time my family and I go to La Foce for a short or long stay, buying una forma di Pecorino – an entire ewe’s milk cheese – is one of the first things I do on arrival.

“What is an ewe, Mummy? my daughter asked me a few months ago as we were enjoying some fresh pecorino.
– An ewe is a female sheep, I answered.
– I’d like to see one!
– Oh really? Well…”

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