Canoeing on a Tuscan river

The Italian coastline does not need an introduction. But have you ever explored one of the country’s rivers? After 30 years in Italy, I finally ventured onto the Ombrone River in Southern Tuscany.

The Ombrone crosses the Parco della Maremma nature reserve before joining the Tyrrhenian sea south of Grosseto. The park is a bird watching paradise, but also a place to spot wild boars and deer, and the local guides are happy to point out all the lesser known fauna and flora.

The canoes – joined together in pairs – are very stable and make for a safe activity for families with children. The Silva cooperative organizes different types of tours at dawn, in the afternoon and during full moon. My favourite one is, of course, the sunset paddle that includes a glass of white wine. The canoes are equipped with an electric motor if your group gets tired of rowing back upstream.

CANOE TOURS in the Maremma Park

Prices range from 20 to 35€ per person depending on activity (reduced rates for children up to 12 years).  Bring a hat, sunscreen and bottled water, and combine it with a bike ride or a swim.

 

Katharina's Italy

MY SECRET B&B TIP FOR THE MAREMMA

Last autumn, I took a little detour in Maremma. I had been at Il Priorato, one of excellence.villas’ high-end properties in southern Tuscany. Before heading back to Rome, I stopped for a coffee in the hilltop town Pereta.

I took a stroll through the pretty village and noticed a palazzo on the main square. It didn’t have a sign or a bell, but I marveled at its garden and the beautiful view from the town wall. “This type of setting,” I thought, “is exactly the sort of place I would love to call home.”

On the way back to my car, I checked Google Maps and to my surprise found a tag for a B&B with the enticing name “Locanda Sospesa” which could be freely translated to “floating boarding house.” Of course, the next time I was in the area, I booked myself a room there.

This is how I met Johnny and Elizabeth, the wonderful couple behind that secret door. During the first Covid lockdown, they left their corporate jobs in Rome and settled in Pereta, where Johnny had spent his childhood. Their two young daughters now go to the local school and Johnny and Elizabeth opened Locanda Sospesa to build a new life for themselves in the Tuscan countryside.

We had a lovely time and while Pereta’s beautiful palazzo may never be mine, I feel comforted now – it’s in good hands.

LOCANDA SOSPESA, Piazza San Marco 1, Pereta (GR).

 

Katharina's Italy

YUMMY HUMMUS IN THE MAREMMA

What do Syria and Tuscany have in common? Well, probably several things, but for sure a passion for great food! A few weeks ago, I partook in a Tuscan-Syrian lunch at the Chimera d’Albegna, a small winery founded by a Florentine family and located a few cables’ length away from the Marsiliana estate, one of our long-established holiday rentals in the Maremma.

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KENYA’S SOUL IN THE HEART OF TUSCANY

Even though my work is firmly rooted in the bel paese, it never ceases to offer me opportunities to meet new people from every corner of the world and learn about their customs and life experiences. Continue Reading →

BIKING ALONG THE TYRRHENIAN SEA

Some day – hopefully in a not too distant future – we’ll be able to cycle along the Mediterranean coast on a dedicated bike path that will stretch from the Eternal City all the way to the French-Italian border in Ventimiglia. According to an official project ratified in 2016 by the regions of Liguria, Lazio and Tuscany, the local cycling trails which already exist will be complemented with many new sections so as to form the uninterrupted 1200 km long Ciclovia Tirrenica!

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TESTING WATERS IN TUSCANY

Ah, springtime!… Longer days, blooming trees, twirling swallows and, above all, – I may have mentioned this to you before – my very first swim of the year in the Mediterranean!

This inaugural sea dip usually takes place in April somewhere on the Tuscan coast. This year, though, because of a persistent cold North wind, it looked as if this ritual might have to be postponed to some later date. But having finally decided against any rain check, my family and I tried our luck at one of the South-facing bays on the Monte Argentario peninsula, and found nothing else there than a little patch of paradise…

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TOUCHING WOOD…

I really love giving books as Christmas presents, especially books about Italian art, handicrafts, touring, food and wine. And there won’t be any exception to the rule this year, since I’ll be offering to three of my friends the beautiful “Woodworking : Traditional Craft for Modern Living”.

The authors of this book, Andrea Brugi and Samina Langholz, an Italo-Danish husband-and-wife duo, very nicely show how anyone, without the tools or expertise of an artisan, and by blending Tuscan elegance with the sleek lines of Scandinavian design, can turn bits of reclaimed wood into stools, egg cups, clothes racks, and what have you.

Exclusively crafted in their Maremma workshop, Andrea and Samina’s olive wood creations can be found on their website, in selected shops around the world, and on their Instagram.

 

Katharina's Italy

In Audrey Hepburn’s Two-Wheeled Wake

I did it, at long last! Wandering about the streets of Rome on Italy’s iconic motor scooter, the Vespa!

I had been dreaming of this since I had first seen, as a child, the 1953 romantic comedy film “Roman Holiday”, in which the beautiful woman I was lucky enough to call my godmother, Audrey Hepburn, drives through the Eternal City astride a silvery, fidgety Vespa.

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An Autumn Swim in the Mediterranean

They are everywhere… Over the last twenty years, the monotonous Monobloc – a lightweight stackable polypropene chair, often white in colour – has proliferated like mushrooms all over the world, and most noticeably at beach bars and seaside resorts.

The numbers make your head spin: a billion Monoblocs have been sold in Europe alone, and I’m told that one Italian manufacturer turns out 10 million units a year!

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A New Generation Festival in Florence

In Italy, the patronymic Corsini has long been a household name, especially in Tuscany and in Florence, where the Corsini princely family has been playing a leading role since the 14th century.

Constructed between 1650 and 1700, the monumental Palazzo Corsini sul Lungarno opens onto the legendary Arno, the river which peacefully meanders through the Renaissance city.

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