THINGS TO DO

THINGS TO DO

A thorn by any other name, its still a Malaspina

The noble castle of the Malaspina family lords over and hugs the ancient town of Fosdinovo, which overlooks the Lunigiana and Magra valley. Nine hundred years of history are rooted in the watchtowers and its connecting pathways, the courtyards, the crenellations, and the cornerstones of this well-preserved fortress where

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Where lava flows,

The only European nation with active volcanoes, Italy has Mount Etna in Sicily, Mount Vesuvius near Naples, and Stromboli, located on the island of the same name off the Sicilian coast. Vesusvius last erupted in 1944, causing only a few minor casualties.  Film buffs will recognize Stromboli thanks to

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Back to the past,

Imagine a place inhabited since the Stone Age, the site of an ancient Etruscan metropolis whose population exceeded 25,000 people hundreds of years before Christ set foot on the earth. Conquered by the Romans, the Lombards, the Franks, and the Florentines, this is a town which inspired Dante, Boccaccio

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Where boundaries meet

The second half of the twentieth century witnessed the steady development of art towards interpenetration with everyday life. Dada and Surrealism influenced postwar generations, especially in Paris where Yves Klein, Arman, Daniel Spoerri and others created anti-heroic work that aimed at unmediated interaction with society. Their openness to chance

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Seeing in the rain,

‘Barga is a movie set of steep, dark streets lined with houses whose earth-colored walls, in quiet pinks, gentle browns and compliant grays, suggest they haven’t been constructed so much ...

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Big surprises grow in small regions

Exclusive. Unique. Remarkable. Special: All words most of us adore. For some, these adjectives describe precious gems or fine furs. In Italy, they may refer to the wines of the Valle d’Aosta region. Why? Because some 90 percent of the wine produced in the region never leaves its

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Head for the hills,

Tuscany’s restful green hills aren’t just for admiring from afar. The Chianti region isn’t just for wine-tasting. Hard as it may be to believe when you’re in Florence, even the little-known hill towns of Chianti are culturally rich, in ways

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Snake charmer,

This assertion, once guaranteed to create a riot of protest, has been put forth in more political terms by the Regione Toscana. Indeed, during the Quale Museo? conference held in February of last year, officials of the Region’s governing body announced that the focal point of its contemporary

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Far horizons and shifting perspectives

It is just a 20-minute bus ride from the centre of Florence to the Pecci Museum of Contemporary Art in Prato, but a visit to  the current retrospective of work by British artist David Tremlett will take you on a far longer journey.  Paul Klee talked of &

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Italian legend born in Deutschland

He raced for three separate teams during his 15-year Formula One career. But in the end, German Michael Schumacher will be forever tied to the Ferrari Scuderia, and to Italy. Why? He won five of his seven World Championships with the Prancing Horse and dominated the world of Formula

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Venetian wanderings,

Venice—La Serenissima—is extra-ordinary and unique, one of the world’s great sites. Impossibly romantic, it has fascinated art-ists, writers and travellers for centuries. In our traffic-clogged and fast-moving age, its ‘other world-ness’ is still an endless source of

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Medieval town hosts modern masters,

Galleria Continua, located in the heart of Tuscany’s most popular hilltop town, San Gimignano, is a dynamic art gallery that continually offers its visitors some of the most sought-after contemporary art in all of Italy, and indeed the world. At present, the gallery is host to several

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Along the highways and byways of Italy,

Few people would argue that Villa Gamberaia is the jewel in Settignano’s crown, though it didn’t always shine as brilliantly as it has in the last hundred years or so. ...

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Capraia

Full of cultural, geological and natural history, the island of Capraia is truly one of Tuscany’s most magnificent locations. One of the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, Capraia was formed, according to ancient legend, when the Tyrrhenian Venus, the god-dess of beauty and love,

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Calling on Caruso,

When Enrico Caruso sang Andrea Chenier from the windows of Bellosguardo, he looked out on the blue Tuscan sky and the green hills of Lastra a Signa. The famous tenor bought the villa in 1906 because of the peacefulness of the area and because the dry air would be good

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Sour grapes

It just doesn’t sound like a great idea: promoting wines made with the native negroamaro grape (also spelled neroamaro and neramaro, which means ‘black and bitter’), and with the primitivo grape, which has nothing to do with being primitive (it’s related instead to the

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Indulging in nature’s cures

‘Eureka!’ The treasure miners accidentally found in Monsummano wasn’t gold. The natural ‘gem’ discovered more than a hundred years ago on Giusti family property was much bigger and more unique. ...

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How do I see Rome? Let me count the ways,

They say all roads lead to Rome, so youve probably been there by now. Did you go to see an exhibition? To pick someone up at the air-port? To meet friends? Was it an eat-and-run visit, like mine always were? For years my prime reason for going

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The palio

Summer in Siena means the Palio a famed historic horse race run each year on July 2 and Aug. 16.  The Palio tradition dates back to the 11th cen-tury, when the race was initiated to honor the Madonna dellAssunta, patroness and advocate of Siena, for her protection of

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Siena, city of colour

Siena has a more insular and less forthcoming atmosphere than Florence – but it’s one you definitely should get to know. If you have little time to spend in the city, use it wisely by wandering the steep and twisting streets, viewing the numerous palazzi, the Duomo, the

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Kissed by the sun

Sicily is chalk to Florence’s cheese.  If you’ve headed there from the north, sometimes you wonder if you’re still in Italy at all. The differences are hard to pin down – the cliché of a poor, pastoral cousin certainly sells this complex

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Venice unmasked

I got lost on my last trip to Venice.  It makes no difference that it was my twentieth trip to La Serenissima in half as many years, or that I can, on a very good day, navigate its infinite bridges and narrow calli without a second thought.  During

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Peace, Politics, and Paper-mache

Most people are familiar with the masked revellers at the Carnevale in Venice, but another truly fantastic celebration ofCarneVa (literally meaning the “meat goes”) is held each year in the Tuscan coastal city of Viareggio. Here the stars of the show are the spectacular papier-mâch&

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Good Swill Hunting

Proverbial wisdom about early birds catching worms doesn’t apply to boar. I am used to fox hunting in the US, where you have to be ready to go at dawn. Not so with boar hunting; at nine am the hunters were just starting to arrive.    The

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