​Farneta I

Some years ago I was driving across the hills rising above the  Tuscan Val di Chiana and passed a large, abandoned church. A few days later I returned to find the 10th-century Abbey of Farneta and Don Felice. The Abbey had lost most of its surrounding buildings by the...

Tuscan Shrines

Summer has ended in a series of thunderstorms and the parched land is already speckled with shoots of green. No hailstones as big as tennis balls, the locals with vineyards and olive groves murmur in relief, but both harvests are bad this year. That is because of the...

Crackling

Beppino’s family have lived in this Tuscan valley for centuries. He was standing on the terrace above us surveying the valley. I thought, ‘Leonardo da Vinci once stood here to draw his map of the then malarial valley, now in the collection of Queen Elizabeth. He...

In Internet Isolation

Severed from the internet after my laptop’s ‘face’ slipped so I couldn’t find the icons and commands at the bottom, I’ve been unable to send emails or post blogs and lived a carefree time of neglect. My antiquated computer in Beverley still functions, but I have been...

Flecks of Autumn Gold

The leaves of the horse chestnut tree outside my window are edged in gold. Over the summer a bird of prey – some say a hawk – nested in one of the Minster towers and feasted on my companions for many a year, the woodpigeons. Schoolchildren scavenge for the conkers...

Saints and Miracles

I wrote this nearly a month ago. Then the screen on my computer slipped, dropping all controls out of sight. It could not be repaired. Nothing is lost – all stashed away in the Cloud – but I was without the internet until now. This is written on an old stand-by...