Villa Palagonia: the enchanted mansion of monsters

At a first glance, Villa Palagonia in Bagheria, to the east of Palermo, could be a villa like any other. But walk further into its gardens, and you will enter into the strange and mysterious world of Francesco Ferdinando Gravina II, the eccentric 18th century Prince of Palagonia. The villa was constructed on behalf of … More Villa Palagonia: the enchanted mansion of monsters

Pentedattilo: one of the last great myths of the world

Pentedattilo, on the southern tip of Calabria, is the first true “ghost town” I have ever visited. Inhabited as far back as the Greek era in the 7th century BC, most of it is now just an empty shell, though local artisans are starting to open up workshops and trinket stores in some of the … More Pentedattilo: one of the last great myths of the world

Calabria in the footsteps of the poet Edward Lear: Stilo

I first read about Stilo in the English poet and landscape painter Edward Lear’s account of his journeys throughout Calabria in 1847, which brought him to this hilltop town. Lear, who is best known for his nonsense poems including “The Owl and the Pussycat” spent part of that year walking across this southern Italian region … More Calabria in the footsteps of the poet Edward Lear: Stilo

Watching the sun set from Monticchiello in Tuscany

On my Tuscan travels, I had a chance to stop for the evening in Monticchiello and contemplate the surrounding landscape like a painting as the sun set. Perched on a hill in the Orcia valley, this fortified medieval village is an unspoilt jewel which offers stunning views of Pienza and the neat rows of cypress … More Watching the sun set from Monticchiello in Tuscany

Pieve di Corsignano: a pearl on the outskirts of Pienza

I was walking along the panoramic promenade just outside Pienza in Tuscany, admiring the wonderful landscape views of the Val d’Orcia, when I first spotted a circular bell tower between the trees. Pienza, rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town by Pope Pius II in the fifteenth century, is a jewel in itself, but I had … More Pieve di Corsignano: a pearl on the outskirts of Pienza