A RENAISSANCE VIRTUOSA

Last month, my daughter returned from school one day with an elated heart: “Mummy, I have to write a theme about some artists! Female artists!”

I responded with a big smile and asked my daughter whether she had anybody in mind already. She said she absolutely wanted to talk about Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe, whose works were, to some extent, familiar to her. Then she pressed me for suggestions.

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A GREAT TRATTORIA TREAT

Why on earth did I think that Italy no longer held any secrets for me?… I came down with a bump when my beloved sister Victoria Trauttmansdorff made me discover a gem of a little Florentine restaurant situated within the lively Sant’Ambrogio market.

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LIVORNO’S GREAT SNACK

Every once in a while – and always when I’m embarking on a New Year – I feel the urge to gorge myself on a delicious cecina, a chickpea flatbread which is the typical street food of Liguria and Northern Tuscany.

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Pontremoli by Word of Mouth

Do you still remember the time when TripAdvisor and the like did not exist? When it was creatures of flesh and blood – and not applications and algorithms – who pointed and steered you, in a confidential tone, to a little-known gem of a restaurant, a picturesque back road or an unfrequented beauty spot?

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One of Italy’s Most Beautiful Food Markets

I have always loved wandering in the aisles of markets, covered or open-air ones.

So when I found out, in Giulia Scarpaleggia’s excellent cookbook, From the Markets of Tuscany, that Livorno’s market is probably the liveliest and most impressive in the whole of Italy, I decided it was high time for a visit.

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Pistoia – a Tuscan Town that is Worth the Detour

Every time I travel between Florence and Lucca – I must have done it a hundred times, – I drive through the charming medieval town of Pistoia, famous throughout Europe for its impressive and well-organized plant nurseries. And every time, without fail, I make the same resolution: “Ok, next time, I will stop and visit one or two of these nurseries.”

A resolution which, as you may have guessed, I haven’t yet fulfilled. Well, not entirely fulfilled, I should say. For I finally did stop in Pistoia a few weeks ago, urged to do so by my friend Molly, who invited me to join her in the heart of the Tuscan city.

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A Cool Place to Visit this Summer

The Leaning Tower of Pisa… Who has not seen it, at least in pictures, and tried to imagine what it feels like to be at its top, precariously tilting some 50 meters above ground?!… The prospect of such a thrill will definitely make your children pull you by the arm: “Mum, Dad, let’s climb up there!”

But in the high season, when you’re assailed with the hot spells and sightseeing hordes, even the most magnetic landmarks get a lot less attractive – to youngsters and grown-ups alike! So it’s always nice to have in store satisfactory alternatives.

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A Bad Day with a Happy Ending

There are days – like yesterday, for instance – when everything goes wrong. I’m sure that you experience such unpleasant days once in a while. I won’t tell you about yesterday here – I still have to recover from it, – but about that one day I spent in Lucca, Tuscany, last October.

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