Tuscan Christmas Feasts!

Gathered around a round table, places were elaborately set for the entire extended family. Our napkins were rolled up to look like crackers on the elaborate spread, with the tablecloth a traditional one made by the host’s grandmother and used at every Christmas lunch for generations. One wall of the dining room was taken up […]

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Great Italian Christmas Traditions: Il Presepio

In many parts of Italy, particularly in the south, you will not find a Christmas tree as the symbol of Christmas, but rather a ‘Presepio’ – a nativity scene. One of our wonderful Rome tour guides, Chris, who has a PhD in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Angelicum University, Rome, writes, ‘Originating centuries ago in […]

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Teatro dell’Opera di Firenze: a sneak preview of Florence’s new Opera House

Florence is a cultural hub rich in traditions of art, artistry, fashion, gastronomy, and music. Florence is actually the birthplace of Opera, with the first opera to be performed being Jacopo Peri’s ‘Dafne’, performed in Florence in about 1597. This work has subsequently been lost, but the great musical tradition started in Florence, Italy, continues. […]

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Tuscan Winter: how the seasons change

Tuscany in December. If you could taste the way the Tuscan countryside looks right now, it would surely taste like cinnamon. The leaves and the birds have left the trees, abandoned nests left in full display. The countryside has evolved from its bright spring-time hues of royal purple and burning yellow of the wild flowers […]

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VINEGAR: simple recipes, simple pleasures

As with all great things in life (namely, wine and women) vinegar just keeps getting better with age. We’ve been cooking lots of traditional Italian recipes using vinegar of late, after being recently given a mother of red wine vinegar, to be used to create our very own red wine vinegar at home.

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MONA LISA: ‘Tis the season to be Jolly as ‘La Gioconda’ plays tricks on us again!

Leonardo da Vinci’s artwork of Mona Lisa is possibly one of the most intriguing and debated art works in history. And the theories and ‘findings’ are almost as wonderful as the artwork itself – especially the latest one to emerge this week. Just who was she? What lies behind this woman’s enigmatic smile? Is there […]

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The bold & beautiful of the Uffizi Gallery – old art, new revelations

Who would have thought that in the 21st century, the world of Renaissance art could contain more drama than a soap opera? First, a long-sought-after Da Vinci is being hunted for as we speak (or rather, write). And now, it has been revealed that the home of Florence’s best art collection, the Uffizi Gallery, will […]

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The Lost Da Vinci: clues, controversy and now conclusion?

Art historians, art lovers, history buffs and Da Vinci fans around the world are anxiously awaiting the results of art sleuth Maurizio Seracini’s controversial investigation in finding a Leonardo da Vinci work which was started in 1505 and lost soon thereafter. Seracini’s near on 40-year search for the lost Da Vinci masterpiece, ‘The Battle of […]

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VIN SANTO: Wine for Saints and Sweet Sippers

It was some hours since we had gathered around the lunch table, and the light outside was starting to dim with the early onset of winter darkness. As the daylight outside the window was fading and the sky greying slightly by a gathering of non-threatening clouds, it made the last of the amber leaves still […]

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Truffles – Tuscany’s tastiest treats!

One or twice a year, we are invited to a farmhouse nestled in the Tuscan hills to enjoy a traditional Tuscan lunch with a lovely Tuscan family. The invitation comes however with a strict warning – the location must be kept top-secret! The reason?

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