Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Badia a Passignano, the abbey (abbazia) of San Michele Arcangelo a Passignano

One of the most photogenic and interesting structures in Chianti is the Abbey of Passignano, officially the Abbazia di San Michele a Passignano. I should say at the outset that it's not that easy to visit the interior of the monastery because there are very few monks there, often only two, and they have more than enough work to occupy their time. Nevertheless, during 2015, the ten year restoration of the refectory was completed and it is now possible to see the splendid "Last Supper" there, a fresco by Ghirlandaio which very likely influenced Leonardo's conception of the same subject. If you don't have a chance to go within the walls, there are nevertheless many vantage points to both the east and the west of the Badia for spectacular photography.

Abbey of Passignano near Tavarnelle in Chianti, Tuscany
Abbazia di Passignano

This ancient foundation passed several decades in private hands during which time it was much altered externally in the taste of Victorian times - fake crenellations and all the rest of it. However, the interior contains many ancient and beautiful features including the Ghirlandaio fresco. As a garden nut, I was much taken by the fine giardino all'italiana hidden behind the monastic walls. The abbey is definitely worth a visit if you can arrange it. The nearest towns are Sambuca and Greve in Chianti.

Italianate garden of the Badia a Passignano in Chianti, Tuscany
Italianate garden of the Badia a Passignano in Chianti, Tuscany

Note that the extensive cellars have been leased out to Antinori whose enormous vineyards cover many of the surrounding hills. A visit to the wine cellars is an activity entirely separate from a visit to the monastery proper. To visit the cellars and/or to do a wine tasting, contact Antinori.

To find out when the monastery is open, try phoning the tourist information office at Tavarnelle Val di Pesa  Tel. 055 8077832

More about the Badia a Passignano.

More about the gardens of Tuscany.


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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Poggio all'Olmo, a classic Tuscan farm house vacation location in Chianti

Now is the quiet season for Tuscan agriturismi, those rural vacation rentals that provide such excellent and economical holiday accommodation in Tuscany, especially in the Chianti Classico wine zone. Since agriturismi are, by definition, also working farms, right now most of them are attending to their olive oil production. I took the opportunity to visit Poggio all'Olmo, a classic Tuscan farm house vacation location in Chianti, owned and managed by my friend Francesca Vanni. It's been a year or two since I paid her a visit and it was great to be reminded of what a beautiful property she has in the Chianti hills above Greve in Chianti.

Poggio all'Olmo Tuscan farmhouse vacation rental in Chianti
Poggio all'Olmo Tuscan farmhouse vacation rental in Chianti

Francesca offers two vacation apartments for 2 to 4 persons, as well as a double room. Since my last visit, the bathrooms have all been modernised to a very high standard. The rooms are furnished in Tuscan country style and the flowering shrubs on the terraces are more mature than during my previous visit. The swimming pool has fabulous views out over the vineyards and olive groves that surround the agriturismo on all sides. The olive harvest was completed last week so I picked up several bottles of olio nuovo!

Poggio all'Olmo holiday rental apartments near Greve in Chianti
Poggio all'Olmo swimming pool
The location of Agriturismo Poggio all'Olmo  is very convenient for those who would like to explore Chianti and central Tuscany together with Florence and Sienna. This is because Greve is located halfway between Florence and Sienna, on the scenic Chiantigiana road and it's an hour by car or bus to Florence. It's about the same to Sienna but for that you need a car, otherwise it's a long haul by bus to Florence and then from there to Sienna by train or bus.

Breakfast at your country vacation accommodations in Chianti, Tuscany
Breakfast at Agriturismo Poggio all'Olmo
For those who want it, Francesca will prepare a spread of fresh fruit, juice, rolls tea and coffee for your breakfast - that's a worthwhile extra at 10 euros per person.

More about Poggio all'Olmo vacation accommodations in Chianti, Tuscany.

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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Mercantia at Certaldo, Tuscany, one of the best street theatre festivals in Europe

Mercantia, one of the best street theatre festivals in Europe, takes place this year, 2017, from 12 to 16 July in the attractive mediaeval walled town of Certaldo, Tuscany. Certaldo consists of the ancient Certalo Alto, on its hilltop, and Certaldo Basso, the modern part of the town in the valley below. Certaldo is very likely the place where Boccaccio was born and he certainly lived there towards the end of his life and regarded it as his hometown. It's therefore appropriate that Certaldo should provide popular entertainment today in the form of Mercantia, its famous street theatre festival.

Mercantia at Certaldo 2016
Mercantia at Certaldo 2016

The festival takes place in Certaldo Alto, the ancient upper town which can be accessed easily by funicular or on foot. Within the walls, there will be dozens of performers along the few streets of the town and also inside the courtyards, where stages are set up to host clowns and comedians, contortionists and acrobats, puppeteers and ventriloquists, magicians and illusionists, fire-eaters and dancers, actors and street musicians.

Mercantia street theatre festival at Certaldo, Tuscany
Mercantia street theatre festival at Certaldo, Tuscany

Tickets cost roughly €10.00 on Wednesday and Thursday, €12.00 on Friday and Sunday, €18.00 on Saturday. If you are planning to visit Mercantia more than once, you can buy the 5-day pass for about €30.00. I haven't seen the exact 2017 prices yet.

Certaldo street theatre festival
Certaldo street theatre festival
In addition to the street theatrical performances in Certaldo Alto, Certaldo Basso is packed for the duration of the festival with street stalls selling hand-made jewellery, clothing, masks, various kinds of art, herbal remedies and beauty products, hand-crafted leatherware and shoes, and a wide range of other arts and crafts, all of varying quality and price. No ticket is required for Certaldo Basso. There are also some stalls in Certaldo Alto.

www.chianti.info

More about Certaldo.

Map of the main sights of Chianti.


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Thursday, 22 October 2015

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence re-opens on 29 October 2015 after extensive renovations

Great news for art enthusiasts! One of the most interesting art museums in Italy, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence, re-opens on 29 October 2015 after extensive renovations. Opera del Duomo in this case means works of art from the cathedral, and the museum is located very near the Duomo, in the same building in which Michelangelo carved his famous marble "David". Many important art works have been moved over the years from the interior of the Duomo, from its facade, from Giotto's campanile and from the Baptistry to keep them safe from the elements, pigeons and humans. The majority of the larger works are sculptures and the smaller works are beautiful liturgical objects. Many of these art works have been restored during the work on the museum, and are very creatively displayed within. My favorite among them are the original and restored "Gates of Paradise" doors from the Bapistry, the result of 27 years of work by Ghiberti.

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence
Detail from a panel of Ghiberti's "Doors of Paradise"
There are around 750 works of art in the museum and, of those, some 200 are being displayed after being restored. Among the works on display are sculptures by Michelangelo, Donatello and Arnolfo di Cambio. There are also large scale reconstructions that provide a glimpse into the history of the Duomo, including the facade before it received its current decorations towards the end of the 19th century.

Pietà dell'Opera del Duomo, Michelangelo, Firenze, Italy
Michelangelo's mysterious Pietà

Note that you can obtain a wonderful view of the dome of the cathedral from a small room at the top of the museum and from the outdoor terrace on the third floor.


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Monday, 5 October 2015

Truffle fairs, festivals and markets in Tuscany.

The white truffle season in Tuscany, October and November, is approaching so I'm listing here the upcoming truffle fairs, festivals and markets in Tuscany. As long as they are fresh, white truffles add a wonderful flavour to many Tuscan dishes, some of which exist only because of their truffle component. Note that I used the word "fresh" - after a few days out of the ground, the volatiles in the truffle will have dissipated completely, leaving behind something with the flavour of old cardboard. This is why people flock to these white truffle fairs - to buy fresh truffles and/or to eat dishes prepared on the spot with fresh truffles.

Truffle fairs, festivals and markets in Tuscany
Fresh Tuscan white truffles for sale in San Miniato

Truffles fairs, truffle festivals and truffle markets in Tuscany


Mostra Mercato “Il Villaggio del Tartufo”
Loc. Ponte Presale, Sestino
Last week in September.

Mostra Mercato “Tartufi d’Etruria”
Arezzo
First weekend October.

Festival del Tartufo (Convivlio Enogastonomico)
Loc. Svolta del Podere, Badia Tedalda
Second week October – Middle of November.

Mostra Mercato del Tartufo Bianco e Nero
Barberino di Mugello
Last weekend in October.

Mostra Mercato del Tartufo e della Castagna
Montaione
Last weekend in October.

Mostra Mercato e Sagra del Tartufo e Prodotti Tipici Locali
Scarperia
First and second weekend in November.

Mostra Mercato del Tartufo Bianco del Mugello
Borgo San Lorenzo
Third weekend in November.

Mostra del Tartufo Bianco
Montespertoli
Third weekend in November.

Sagra del Tartufo Bianco
Loc. Corazzano, San Miniato
First Sunday in October.

Sagra del Tartufo Bianco
Loc. Balconevisi, San Miniato
Third Sunday in October.

Mostra Mercato del Tartufo Bianco e Rassegna sei Prodotti Enogastronomici della Val di Cecina
Volterra
Last weekend in October and first weekend in November.

Mostra Mercato del Tartufo Bianco delle Colline Sanminiatesi
San Miniato
Last three weekends of November.

Mostra Mercato del Tartufo Bianco delle Crete Senes
San Giovanni d’Asso
Second and third weekend in November.

Pasta with a sauce of mushrooms and Tuscan truffle oil
Pasta with a sauce of mushrooms and truffle oil
Before setting out on a truffle-buying expedition, please be sure to educate yourselves on the subject of Italian truffle varieties and how to buy and prepare truffles.

Other fairs and festivals of Tuscany.

Market days throughout Tuscany by location.


Vacation accommodation in Tuscany
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Friday, 4 September 2015

Gregorian chant at the Abbey of Sant'Antimo - soon to be part of the past

Many visitors to the Val d'Orcia and the area around Montalcino, and from even further afield in Tuscany, have visited the Abbazia di Sant'Antimo not only for the beautiful architecture, but also to hear the monks chanting. Alas, it seems certain that Gregorian chant at the Abbey of Sant'Antimo will cease before the end of 2015. The French White Friars, who follow the rule of St. Augustine in the Norbertine order and who have been at the Monastery of Sant'Antimo for 36 years, will return to France before the end of the year.

The Abbey of Sant'Antimo near Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy
The Abbey of Sant'Antimo near Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy
The monks will move to the Abbaye de Saint Michel de Frigolet near Avignon in France. This French abbey, which dates from 1858, is in a critical state basically because only two monks remain there, both elderly, and the decision was made by the Norbertine Order to draw on their community elsewhere. An additional factor might have been the refusal of the Siennese authorities that watch over historical buildings to let the order rebuild the cloister and the monks' accommodation, meaning that growth in the size of the community at Sant'Antimo was precluded.

Gregorian chant during Mass at the Abbey of Sant'Antimo
Monks during Mass at the Abbey of Sant'Antimo
The Bishop of Montalcino has indicated that he hopes to find another religious community to replace the departing White Friars but there has been no word on whether he has been successful. It is also highly unlikely that the new community will specialise in Gregorian chant.

What this means is that visitors who wish to enjoy the experience of Gregorian chant at the Abbazia di Sant'Antimo must try to come here within the next couple of months.

More about the Abbey of Sant'Antimo.

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Friday, 14 August 2015

Horse drawn wagon tour through the Chianti countryside

Despite the heat wave we're currently experiencing, I have just returned from a fabulous horse drawn wagon tour through the Chianti countryside under the expert guidance of Luca Perrotta. I can't think of a more appropriate way to get around in Chianti than by horse and wagon! Luca met my friends and me at Montagnana near Montespertoli. That's where his tours start, although by prearrangement, you can start off from elsewhere if you'd prefer to tour a different part of Chianti. The wagon is covered to keep the sun off but open at the sides to let the breezes blow through. This was ideal for the kind of weather we're having right now. The seats were comfortable and the horses very strong and beautiful. Off we go!

Horse and wagon excursion through Chianti, Tuscany
Luca making the last minute preparations for a horse and wagon excursion through Chianti
Luca spends as little time as possible on tar-sealed roads and even then on roads with little traffic. Most of the time we travelled over Tuscan strade bianche (dirt roads) among the vineyards and olive groves. We took a full day tour and so stopped off for some wine tasting during the morning at one of the wineries near Montespertoli and San Casciano, and we had lunch at a farm house in their fine old kitchen. During the afternoon we continued our explorations with a stop at a castle (a small castle or a large fortified villa - both descriptions fit!). Altogether it was a wonderfully relaxing day.

Horse and wagon excursion in Tuscany
We took it in turns to ride beside Luca on the driver's bench
I can especially recommend Luca's horse and wagon tour for parents who are visiting Tuscany and who are asking themselves "what activities are available for kids in Tuscany?" One excellent answer is "a wagon ride through the Chianti countryside!" If you want to give a group of children (including grown-up children) a real treat, Luca can arrange for clowns, jugglers and other similar actors to meet you at some point during the tour. Wedding parties also often appreciate this kind of entertainment.

A group of children about to set out on a horse and wagon outing in Chianti
A group of children about to set out on a horse and wagon outing in Chianti

More about Luca's horse drawn wagon excursions in Chianti.


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Thursday, 6 August 2015

An exceptional vintage is predicted for Chianti Classico 2015

Very hot and dry weather conditions in Chianti mean an exceptional vintage is predicted for Chianti Classico 2015, according to the experts. This year will also be the second earliest vendemmia (grape harvest) since World War II, 2003, the year of a major drought, being the earlier harvest. Both quality and quantity of Chianti wine should be excellent this year, with estimated production rising at least 5% over last year, for an projected total of about 44 million hectoliters.

exceptional vintage for Chianti Classico 2015

The additional production should keep prices stable so watch for the Gallo Nero label of Chianti Classico 2015 when the wine reaches the shops in spring next year. The Riserva will appear on the market starting from late 2016.

As with all Chianti Classico wine, cellar your bottles for 5 to 6 years, not more. Some can be drunk even sooner, but they should not be kept for much longer than that period. In contrast to claret, for example, Chianti Classico is best consumed quite young.

Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil harvest 2015


Tuscan olive oil

Based on my olive trees and those I have seen in central Chianti, this year's olive oil production in Tuscany will be infinitely better than the disastrous harvest of 2014. It looks as if it was cold enough during winter to inhibit the life cycle the Bactrocera oleae, the fruit fly that lays its eggs in the olives whence, eventually, the larvae eat their way out, destroying the fruit. Four days of frost kill the eggs. Last winter was the warmest on record in Tuscany and was followed by warm, humid conditions, ideal for fruit flies.

Until now the bacterium that is wiping out olive trees in southern Italy has not made an appearance in Tuscany. Xylella fastidiosa is a bacterium carried by aphids and has spread quickly through the olive trees of Apulia. This is particularly tragic because some of the olive trees there, in contrast to those in Tuscany, are up to a thousand years old. We are praying that the disease is brought under control before it spreads to Tuscany.

Tuscan wine tours and winery vacation rentals.

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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Great new Tuscan country restaurant in Chianti, located between Greve and Panzano in Chianti

I've just had a fabulous dinner at a great new Tuscan country restaurant in Chianti, located between Greve and Panzano in Chianti, right in the middle of the Chianti Classico wine zone. Francesca, the proprietor of Agriturismo Dondoli, has just opened this family restaurant on the same rural property that encompasses her organic fruit and vegetable gardens, and her two-apartment agriturismo. Ristorante Dondoli is situated about 5 km from both Greve in Chianti and Panzano in Chianti, on a side road branching off the Via Chiantigiana (SR 222). Francesca's son Giovanni is the chef, assisted in the kitchen by Francesca herself, with Letizzia waiting on the tables. There are 25 seats for outdoor and indoor dining, making this is an intimate place to eat out, deep in the tranquil countryside far from highways and noise.

Tuscan country restaurant in Chianti, located between Greve and Panzano in Chianti
Ristorante Dondoli - Tuscan country restaurant in Chianti, near Greve and Panzano in Chianti

All of the dishes offered take their inspiration from classic Tuscan cuisine. Bistecca alla fiorentina and other classics are offered but the majority of the choices at Dondoli are highly original and all are delicious. The prices for both food and wines are extremely competitive - take advantage of them!

Chianti country restaurant near Greve in Chianti, Tuscany
Happy diners at Ristorante Dondoli

Fresh ingredients are the signature theme of Ristorante Dondoli. The fruit and vegetables come from Francesca's own organic gardens, only a 100 m from the kitchen of the restaurant. This means that not only are the vegetable dishes as good as you can get, but there are excellent choices available for vegetarians. The wonderful desserts are made by Francesca at the restaurant.

Fresh organic zucchini and their flowers at Ristorante Dondoli.
Fresh, organic zucchini and their flowers at Ristorante Dondoli.

I went on Thursday which is one of two days, the other being Friday, when a seafood menu is offered in addition to the usual daily menu. The menu is composed on the day, based on the fresh seafood available. All of it comes from Tuscan coastal waters. I took the seafood menu which extended over several courses, all of them fabulously delicious and original - not that many restaurants in Tuscany do this. I drank the house white wine which was amazingly good, especially taking into account that it was Tuscan and there aren't a great many wonderful Tuscan white wines.

Sea food antipasta at Ristorante Dondoli in Chianti
Sea food antipasta at Ristorante Dondoli in Chianti

More about "Ristorante Dondoli" Tuscan country restaurant in Chianti.

How to get to ""Ristorante Dondoli" from Greve and Panzano.

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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Antiques fair in Florence: 29th Biennale Internazionale dell’Antiquariato di Firenze

This year, 2015, the Biennale Internazionale dell’Antiquariato di Firenze will take place in the Palazzo Corsini in Florence from 26 September until 4 October. This Biennale is the oldest continuously running art and antiques fair in Europe and is now without doubt the most prestigious and international of all the Italian art and antiques fairs. It was originally located in the Palazzo Strozzi and since 1997 has found a home in the Palazzo Corsini, a fine 17 C palace on the Arno. In fact, the beauty of the Palazzo is an additional reason to visit this antiques fair in Florence.

Biennale Internazionale dell’Antiquariato di Firenze at the Palazzo Corsini in Florence
Palazzo Corsini in Florence viewed across the Arno

A reported 74 dealers will offer top of the line sculpture, porcelain, furniture and old master paintings and drawings for sale. Here is a painted wooden Bust of a Young Woman by the Renaissance master Antonio del Pollaiolo, dated between 1465 and 1470, and offered for sale that the 2013 Florence biennale.

Bust of a Young Woman by the Renaissance master Antonio del Pollaiolo
Bust of a Young Woman by the Renaissance master Antonio del Pollaiolo
We cannot know until the show what the dealers will have for us this year, but there are sure to be some spectacular treasures available for those with a few thousand to spare. And all displayed in the beautiful interior of the Palazzo Corsini.

Antiques fair in Florence


See you in Florence late September, early October!

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Sunday, 7 June 2015

Where can I find the best pizza in Tuscany?

Well, I obviously can't answer the question, "Where can I find the best pizza in Tuscany?". For one thing neither I nor anyone else has eaten at every pizza restaurant in Tuscany and, of course, tastes vary. However, having said that, what I can tell you is where to enjoy truly excellent thin crust pizza in Tuscany. I prefer the thin crust variety of pizza because it's lighter, easier on the digestion and the taste of the dough doesn't distract attention from the tastes of the toppings.

thin crust pizza in Tuscany
A delicious thin crust pizza
In Greve in Chianti, Ristorante Pizzeria La Cantina, located away from Piazza Matteotti on the small Piazza Trento where the buses from Florence stop, serves a range of beautifully presented Tuscan dishes AND the best thin crust pizza I have tasted anywhere in Chianti. You have a choice of sitting outside on the piazza or inside in the "cantina" which used to be a coal store for the steam trams that used to run from Greve to Florence. The restaurant was the bar of the tram station which occupied Piazza Trento. During summer, I always sit outside in enclosed area on the edge of the piazza.

Ristorante Pizzeria La Cantina in Greve in Chianti, Tuscany
Interior of Ristorante Pizzeria La Cantina in Greve in Chianti
It's usually Alessandro taking the orders (using an app on his cellphone) with Lorena in charge of the kitchen. There's a good range of pizza toppings and a very good wine cellar. And don't forget to try some of the other dishes - classic Tuscan with individual flare.

Outdoor dining at Ristorante Pizzeria La Cantina in Greve in Chianti
Here's Alessandro taking an order


Happy customers at Ristorante Pizzeria La Cantina in Tuscany
Happy customers at Ristorante Pizzeria La Cantina

La Cantina house wine - an excellent Chianti Classico
La Cantina house wine - an excellent Chianti Classico

Alessandro's family opened "La Cantina" in 1980 in the old tram bar and later extended it by converting the coal store into a commodious dining room. La Cantina is open for both lunch and dinner.

More about Ristorante Pizzeria La Cantina in Greve in Chianti.


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Friday, 10 April 2015

Edith Wharton in Italy - villas and gardens of Tuscany

The novels and short stories of Edith Wharton are still on the reading lists of the more progressive women's colleges in the United States, and some of them are even read from time to time. However, my interest in Mrs Wharton is based on her life-long passion for garden design on the grand scale and on her excellent book, "Italian Villas and their Gardens" which was published in 1904 and is scarce in its original edition. As a substitute or additional read, I can recommend Edith Wharton's Italian Gardens by Vivian Russell, who visited and photographed the surviving gardens described by Mrs Wharton.

Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton as an earnest young woman

Although Mrs Wharton (1862-1937) is often tarted up by English Literature departments as something of a rebel, her birth in 1862 into the richest of the rich class of "Old New York" made possible not only her fictional writings, with their insider's view of America's privileged classes, but, much more importantly to me, made it natural that she would travel extensively in Europe and allowed her to create a wonderful house and garden, "The Mount", near Lenox, Massachusetts, and to recreate a second one, "Le Pavilion Colombe", at Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt. These houses and estates were created according to the principles elaborated in her book The Decoration of Houses (1897), co-authored by Ogden Codman, and drew heavily upon her observations of the villas and gardens of Tuscany, especially of the Medicean villas. She wrote in Italian Villas and their Gardens that gardens should be divided into rooms and planned in concert with the house and the natural landscape, a Classical concept revived in Renaissance times.

"The Mount", Edith Wharton's house and garden at Lenox, Mass.
"The Mount", Edith Wharton's house and garden at Lenox, Mass.

Edith Wharton's parents were George Frederic Jones and Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander, and the saying "keeping up with the Jones" is said to refer to her family. After the end of the Civil War, her family traveled extensively in Europe. From 1866 to 1872, the Jones family visited France, Italy, Germany and Spain. During these travels, Edith became fluent in French, German and Italian. When at home in the United States, the Joneses spent their winters in their New York mansion and their summers in their Newport "cottage". In 1885, at age 23, Edith Jones married Edward (Teddy) Robbins Wharton, who was 12 years her senior. Wharton was from a well-established Boston family, and was a sportsman and a gentleman of the same social class, and shared her love of travel. Unfortunately, the marriage began to deteriorate, in part due to Teddy Wharton's severe depression, and Mrs Wharton eventually moved permanently to France. During World War I, she remained in her Paris apartment and was an ardent and effective supporter of the French war effort.
Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Howard Sturgis
Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Howard Sturgis

Edith Wharton was an indefatigable motorist and was driven throughout Europe by her chauffeur Charles Cook in amazing, usually huge, cars that were often one of a kind. Her tours resulted in some excellent travel writing, including her book Italian Backgrounds and of course, Italian Villas and their Gardens. One of her favorite Tuscan gardens is also a favorite of mine, namely Villa Gamberaia, located on the outskirts of the village of Settignano near Florence. Bernard Berenson was another Florentine friend of Mrs Wharton and his Villa I Tatti is about a mile away from Villa Gamberaia. Villa I Tatti belongs to Harvard University and is not easily visited, but Villa Gamberaia is still in private hands and one can not only visit the gardens but it is possible to stay in one of the guest houses within the garden.

The garden of Villa Gamberaia viewed from the villa
The garden of Villa Gamberaia viewed from the villa

Edith Wharton passed away on 11 August, 1937 at Le Pavillon Colombe, her 18 C house on Rue de Montmorency in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt. She was comforted by her friend Mrs Royall Tyler, a native of Florence, born Elisina Palamidessi de Castelvecchio (sometimes styled "Contessa" - including by herself - but, although her mother held that title, it was not hereditary and she had no right to it). She was the wife of a famous Bostonian historian educated partly at Harrow and Oxford, with extensive European connections. My friend Paul Chipchase knew their son, William Royall Tyler, himself an eminent American abroad, and passed on to me many interesting reminiscences of Mrs Wharton.

I can strongly recommend the excellently written and beautifully illustrated recent biography of Edith Wharton by Eleanor Dwight. Everything you need to know is here along with masses of rare photographs.

R.W.B. Lewis wrote an earlier and highly regarded biography of Edith Wharton which I am about to read. I'll report back on that later. There is a further recent biography of Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee. This latter runs to 850 pages, including masses of analysis of Mrs Wharton's fiction. I doubt that I'll read it.

Villa Medici at Fiesole
Villa Medici at Fiesole
Among the villa gardens near Florence that Mrs Wharton described in her book are Villa Petraia, Villa Demidoff (Pratolino), Villa Medici at Fiesole, Villa Corsini near Impruneta, Villa Gamberaia and Villa Capponi at Arcetri.

More about Tuscan villas.

Click here for more information about vacation accommodation and events opportunities at Villa Gamberaia.

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Tuscany Travel Guide


vacation accommodations in Tuscany

Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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