A stroll around San Quirico d’Orcia and its public gardens

When I was preparing my trip to Tuscany while working as an English teacher in Rome, I surveyed my Italian students to uncover the best hidden jewels in the area around Siena. One of them I remember immediately suggested San Quirico d’Orcia, a town I had never heard of but that sounded ideal for my … More A stroll around San Quirico d’Orcia and its public gardens

A weekend journey through Valpolicella and Valpantena

Valpolicella in the Veneto, known locally as the “pearl of Verona”, is a hilly and scenic area of Italy where you can tour vineyards, discover the local range of wines from Valpolicella Classico to Amarone, and visit some of the most beautiful and elegant villas of Italy. One of my favourite aspects of the Veneto … More A weekend journey through Valpolicella and Valpantena

Palermo’s big night: the festival of Saint Rosalia

During an English lesson in Rome, a student of mine from Palermo was the first to tell me about the patron saint of his town: Saint Rosalia. He explained the story of the “Santuzza” or “Little Saint”, who went to live as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pellegrino, near to the Sicilian capital. … More Palermo’s big night: the festival of Saint Rosalia

Stanze al Genio: preserving Italy’s majolica tile treasures

Collector Pio Mellina first took an interest in traditional Italian hand-painted “majolica” floor tiles around the age of 12, when he used to go rummaging around antique markets in Sicily with his art-loving mother. Their bright colours and varied patterns were the initial aspects that intrigued him. These often revealed glimpses of the origin and … More Stanze al Genio: preserving Italy’s majolica tile treasures

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