Monday, 1 September 2014

Wishversilia new blog is online!

We are happy to announce the birth of the new website and blog by Wishversilia.
We are food lovers, curious of life and happenings, scouting exclusive locations and testing services, and simply enjoying all the beauty from Tuscany and Italy, through in-depth post, photo reportage, videos and more!

This blog will be closed later because obviously the update will continue on the new platform.

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Cooking with nonnas

An authentic Tuscan experience

“To really learn how to cook like a Tuscan, you must cook with a Tuscan nonna”, I said to Susan Van Allen, an American writer, whose interests are focused on Italy and women travels. Susan was born with Italian genes (her maternal grandparents came to the USA from Molise and Potenza). She grew up eating like an Italian - smelling lasagnas and listening to family dramas, which ignited a passion in her that inspired her to travel to Italy in 1976. Since then she has continued to explore the country and write about it in a popular guidebook 100 Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go.

In fact, when travelling around Italy, you do not need to be trained or work out, but just to open your senses wide and breathe: to listen to women chatting and arguing over ‘too-much-less-salt-in-pasta’, sniff the air as it fills with garlic, pepper and olive oil sizzling in the pan, contemplate gestures as simple as throwing a pinch of salt in water, to savour the outcome of such dramatic process… Susan approached me with such enthusiasm asking about a cookery class to arrange for her group of ladies. They were spending a week in the Chianti area in a luxury country resort enjoying visiting Florence and small towns, as well as olive picking during the harvest. There was not much to be unveiled to her around Italy and Tuscany, therefore I cast my card betting on ‘authenticity’ and ‘spontaneity’: cooking with nonnas like Italian do! Read on Wall street International journal

Friday, 8 November 2013

Pietrasanta: the cradle of art

A bohemian borough in northern Tuscany

I sit on a crimson sofa while Sofy is preparing some coffee before we start our interview. Sophie Ricard, in art “Sofy” is a sculptor and a painter now living in Pietrasanta and managing a Bed and breakfast activity, although she prefers referring to it as a GuestHouse,“Maison d’hôtes”, a charming 17th-century building, inviting to beauty and contemplation.

From the large window, I can see roofs and terraces finely decorated with stuccos and marbles and I feel like I am in Paris…when Sofy starts her story. "I sat on a comfy chair sipping a ‘spritz’ and contemplating some terrific art pieces of contemporary artists…the bells of the Duomo toll and the air filled with inebriating scents of time, olive trees and freshly cut grass… I found myself in Pietrasanta, a small medieval town set on hills of northern Tuscany Riviera of Versilia, enjoying the typical Italian relax in piazzetta… After living in Paris and travelling the world, I would not expect myself to feel so at ease in such a small place." Go on reading on Wall Street International

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Val d'Orcia, five senses tour

Think the iconic picture of the one-stand cypress tree on top of a green hill stretching itself toward the blue sky, that postcard of Tuscany everybody on this planet can recognize. Think Russel Crowe’s Gladiator, that landscape of wheat gently shaking under the wind, like a field of gold. Think coloured hills and natural scenarios harmonious and placating: they all belong to the most sought after destinations in Tuscany: Val d’Orcia.
There are several reasons for this, not only the Unesco Heritage award in 2004 for its compelling scenery, the true motivation is that Val D’Orcia is heaven for our five senses, no matter what one’s age, sex or status is.

“Val D’Orcia is a region of Tuscany, which extends from the hills south of Siena to Monte Amiata. Its carefully combed rolling hills are occasionally topped by country farms and picturesque towns and villages such as Pienza, rebuilt as an “ideal town” in the 15th century and Montalcino, land of the world famous Brunello di Montalcino, among the most prestigious of Italian wines” I read on this english magazine, while waiting for my train in London. “One latest research assumes that the Val d’Orcia landscape helps recovering from mental stress and strains, thanks to the harmonious beauty of its land, the quite traffic-free atmosphere and the genuineness of its products”. The last paragraph strikes me: I actually do need a stopover before my nerves burn out, I have done nothing than work for the past weeks, months, years.
Read on Wall Street International

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Vip watching in Tuscany

 Capalbio, Tuscany
Tuscany is a very fashionable region for travelling and for living. Many famous actors, singers or simply entrepreneurs chose Tuscany as their favourite location to buy a vacation villa, to take up a new activity in wine or hospitality, to meditate and relax.

Among the most popular Sting’s Il Palagio 16th Century Tuscan Villa. Set amongst the Tuscan near Florence, this villa is not only the Sumner family’s holiday home but also operates as a retreat and organic farm producing wine, olive oil, honey.
Richard Gere spent his meditation holidays a the breath taking Tibetan monastery in Pomaia,  a small medieval town surrounded by the green hills near Pisa. He has also launched his first fine label of Brunello di Montalcino buying the San Filippo Estate.

Not to mention Elton John fond of Florentine t-bone steaks, Paris Hilton visiting her friend and fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, Daniel Day Lewis struck by the art of shoe making in Florence and Paul McCartney mad for gelato….

Of course, it will not be easy to bump into celebrities walking around Tuscany or quietly relaxing in their villas…therefore, you might be interested in knowing the top Vip watching sites in Tuscany. Just take a comfy seat at a central cafè, sip your fresh lemonade and wait….

Read on The Travel Advisor

The thousands lights of Portovenere

A romantic story set in Portovenere inspired by my last attendance to the Madonna Bianca celebrations

Summer 2012 was the year of my trip to Tuscany, but most of all my wedding proposal. Kate and I had planned any single day and activity in our so long sought after vacations in Italy and our travelogue was drawn into a booklet by Maggy, our concierge at the villa in Forte dei Marmi, Versilia. If you look for a magical place to stay in Tuscany at close reach from Lucca, Cinque Terre, Pisa and many other charming places, this is Versilia. Our villa was surrounded by a huge park and crossed by a small creek, which was a great relief from summer heat. We were spending our days touring around and enjoying all beauties of this area: a boat tour and concert by the Puccini lake, trekking on the mountains, a sailing trip to spot dolphins off Viareggio coast and long-relaxing prosecco and ‘focaccia’ aperitifs under the villa patio, lulled by the hammock or stranded on big soft cushions. Just one unique moment was missing and I decided to call on Maggy to single out the right one for me. I had heard of many religious celebrations in Italy connected to St Mary falling around August 15th, the Italian ‘Ferragosto’ and I thought that might be perfect to celebrate a unique woman and seal a special event between me and Kate: our engagement. Maggy, our concierge and deus-ex-machina, immediately came with a plan. Read on the Wall Street International Mag

Monday, 24 June 2013

Linen my passion - Stepping into Tuscany old traditions.

‘Amazing stories are just around the corner or laying under linen sheets’, says Nadia sniggering at me while telling the story of her granny, one of secrets in linen embroidery and spun. Linen was commonly used in the past by both low and high class families to produce their bed sheets, towels, night suites, baby diapers, curtains, table clothes. Yes there were differences between the farmer’s dowries and the landowner’s, but skills in embroidering were equally great, and they have passed through generations to our current days.

World famous fashion houses took inspiration from anonymous ladies whose skillful hands helped how to preserve this art and, while every woman in the past century was able to sew and needle as a matter of fact, today we label this technique as hobby. Yet Nadia’s intent is by far more honorable: not only she has started collecting all the tissues directly from her beloved grandmother, she has also continued to save big quantities of abandoned old linen canvases from brides chests to granny’s lofts, collecting a quite impressive number of them.
Continue reading on Wall Street Internation Mag >>>>>>

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Versilia Blog Tour 2013 - A handful of Versilia!

I have just finished my experience in the organization and guiding of the Versilia Blog Tour, a great five-days tour around the Versilia region in Northern Tuscany coast together with a bunch of Italian and foreign travel bloggers.
Every day was a new discovery and we had the chance to tour around the different areas and merge in many different environments from the Massaciuccoli Lake, where Giacomo Puccini lived, to the wild Natural Park and sandy beaches near La Lecciona in Viareggio, to the hills of Camaiore, to the marble quarries on the Apuan Alps, to the olive groves around Pietrasanta and the perfectly combed sea resort in Forte dei Marmi.
Here is the story of my five-days adventure through Versilia: the land of Roman finds, of fish and aromatic herbs used to cure meat, of sawdust and marble, of brass-gold and Murano glass…

A handful …of Roman finds

We have visited the Massaciuccoli Romana archeological area, where Francesco ,the Archeologist introduced us to all Roman finds they recently excavated. What a thrilling experience touching pieces of pottery, glass and stone which were produced and used more than 2000 years ago…

A handful …of fish

We visited Viareggio and its harbor, getting more to know about its history and traditions in fishing.
The programme included some fish tasting paired with wine and a cooking class lead by Federica, the knowledgeable chef at Restaurant La Posteria in Viareggio.

After showing  our bloggers how to master knife and hands to clear a fish, our brave food blogger Chiara, aka Forchettinagiramondo, tried the experience and fileted a weever. In fact, we learned about many other delicious fishes that live in the Tyrrhenian sea, apart from the well-known (but often  breed) beam and bass. Here just a few of them: scad, gundrum and stingray which was wonderfully cooked as a soup with polenta.

A handful …of aromatic herbs

We visited Salumificio Triglia in Gombitelli a village on the hills overlooking Versilia on one side and Lucca plain on the other one. This is a family run company which is putting traditions and ancient tastes on top of their priorities and goals, bringing along the production of very typical products in Versilia area, such as ham aged with chestnut flour and “pink” lard. Though, the shop today is much more technological, than in the past, the family still preserves their own “secrets” in the mix of spices, herbs and “x” ingredients passed on by generations. It’s fun trying to guess how far your nose can go to reach subtle scents hidden by strong rosemary, garlic and thyme.
Taste and find out!

A handful…of sawdust

Camaiore, the small hamlet half way between Versilia hills and Lucca on the Francigena way, gave us the chance to visit the workshop where sawdust carpets or the “tappeti di segatura” are drafted and designed to line the streets for the Sunday celebrations of the Feast of Corpus Christi, which in 2013 fell on 2nd June.

A handful…of marble

What an amazing view from the up the Apuan Alps, where we were allowed to visit the private quarry estate at Henraux, uphill of Seravezza and Stazzema. Here you feel like you can touch the sky or fall under the weight of milky white blocks so imposing above our heads.

A handful…of wax

The very last day we visited Pietrasanta and its art shops where artists produce their own art pieces into statues, mosaics or jewels…no matter the material, they can master them all…
We enjoyed Marco Balderi’s intro to his goldsmith creations and view of life and nature reflected into its amazing jewels. He showed us is “forge shop” and the way he turns wax into brass and gold and art…

A handful…of Murano glass

At another corner in Pietrasanta, Piero Giannoni works on his mosaics since almost 60 years without a break…every day for work or pleasure…trying to outdo himself and make a picture of the most celebs’ portraits out of a mosaic. His painstaking efforts in becoming a real master in mosaic art contributes in making Pietrasanta the socalled “Little Athens”.

I am thankful to all the people that made this five days trip around Versilia possible. You will find them all listed on the Versilia Blog Tour page.

If you are looking for passion, art, excitement, wonder, come to Versilia and get a handful of it!