Temptation and Passion

I first noticed flowers with a tight mass of red petals one June in the garden of the Medici villa at Castello, north of Florence. They were on a large bush or small tree with masses of shiny dark green leaves and looked like the flowers in a paradise garden on a...

Olive Harvest

Olive picking has begun early this year in Tuscany. The grape harvest has only just finished on the lower slopes of our valley. Two generations ago vines trailed along the edges of the strips of fields on the terraces but they have since died, untended. They used to...

Leonardo da Vinci’s Valley

The Etruscans from 800 BC onwards drained and cultivated this fertile valley and held their Olympic games to the west of Cortona where the great burial tumuli still stand. The Romans took over the Etruscan canal network until it fell into disuse after the decline of...

At the Flick of a Finger

When we first arrived in this Tuscan valley there were only a few electricity poles strung up from the main road below.  Our neighbour Renato, who had been born in the valley, was thrilled because he could have light ‘at the flick of a finger’. The current was so...

Topsy Turvy

Some years ago young summer travellers to Scotland returned tanned on a late summer ferry from Dover to Calais. We were returning from a rainy Tuscan summer and looked at them enviously. One vivid memory was of a visit to Perugia. A host of umbrellas hurried along the...