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...

The Lumber Room

One of the most powerful of many memorable sequences in the Visconti film of Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) is when the hero and heroine – Tancredi and Angelica (acted by Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale) – run, frolicking, through the attic rooms of an immense and...

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...