Italian Easter: it’s not about the chicken or the egg, but the egg, the dove & the pastiera!

26 March 2016

  La colomba pasquale / the  Easter Dove During this past Easter, I discovered yet another regional speciality. The pagnotta (left), made only during this Christian celebration, originated  from a little place called Sarsina (province of Forlì/Cesena),…. continue ›

Happy new year Florence!

25 March 2016

  The 25th of March is an important date for Catholics around the world as it celebrates the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, the incarnation of Christ who is born nine months later on 25th…. continue ›

Artemisia Gentileschi – a pioneer female artist

12 December 2015

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) depicted Judith from the Old Testament at least four times in painting; she quite possibly had painted more of this subject but as not all of her oeuvre has survived, we cannot…. continue ›

Lions and tigers…. oh my!

28 October 2014

Anotomical models in wax made between 1770-1850.  La Specola, the oldest science museum in the world, should be the newest addition to a visitor’s Florentine itinerary. Opened to the public in 1775 by Grand Duke…. continue ›

Girolamo Savonarola: the friar who played with fire

  The Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola, originally from Ferrara, was hanged and burnt in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence on the 23rd May 1494. Every year, on the morning of the anniversary of his…. continue ›

Coffee cool

  I recently did a tour for a great group of Aussie high school teenagers.  When speaking with their lovely (and cool) English teacher who was accompanying them through Europe, she told me an amusing…. continue ›

Ospedale degli Innocenti

Florence is the home of the first orphanage in the world. A structure entirely dedicated to the care and maintenance for the foundlings, or the ‘Innocents’ of the city. In the early fifteenth century two of…. continue ›

Il mio bel giovanni

John the Baptist is the patron saint of Florence and his day of celebration is coming up very soon, on the 24th June, a public holiday for the Florentines. You can recognise St John the Baptist in visual imagery as…. continue ›

The Tarot garden – a slice of heaven

One of my favourite places to visit in the whole of Italy is the Giardino dei Tarocchi created by the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002), begun in 1978. I cried when I visited this place…. continue ›

Cosimo who controls the cosmos

I am hopelessly in love with the piadina, the large flat round bread (25cm circa in diameter) of the Romagna region, north of Tuscany (the region is Emilia-Romanga). It was love at first sight and I…. continue ›