Page 1


Tuscany Unlimited






MICRO TUSCANY: FOCUS ON VERSILIA Where the mountains meet the sea

OPERA ONTHE LAKE Puccini Festival 2009 GREAT OUTDOORS Mountain Biking -Tuscan style CAMPOROMANO A noble home of Roman origin


Much, much more



contents | tuscany unlimited

CONTENTS Places 90 Artist Profile: Federico Neri 96 Travel Guide

14 Piazza San Lorenzo – A Feast for the Eye and Stomach

20 Micro Tuscany – Get to Know the Versatile Versilia Region


28 Living Legends – The Custodians of the Mountain Larder

Arts & Culture 6 News Bites

8 What’s On in August 10 Puccini Festival – Progamme and Opera Synopsis

4 August 2009 |

98 Books, Films and Music

Food & Drink

32 Vital Ingredient – The Sagra Cure


36 Flavours of the Month – Vittoriana Scremin Cooks for August

39 Take Home Chef – Cecilia Capuano 40 Glass by Glass – Pink Bubbles Under a Tuscan Sun



contents | heather campbell

Life & Style

46 Ocean’s Treasures – Sea Charming Jewellery

52 Top Tuscan Spas

70 Tuscan Garden – Jobs for August

55 Saving Face – Skincare Product Guide


56 Health Matters – The Burning Issue 58 Doctor’s Notes – Boil and Trouble

48 Shopping in Viareggio – The Hot Spots

Homes & Health & Gardens Beauty 51 Make Up With Confidence – Top Tips

74 Real Mountain Biking

79 Yachting – Tuscany by the Sea 80 Breakaway – Dancing with Horses 82 Tuscan Road Trip – Mugello Valley

60 Casa Mia – Interior Design Secrets

87 Water World - Kayaking

64 Grand Designs – The Camporomano Estate




92 Property Guide

94 House Hunter – The Purchase



Subscribe Get Tuscany Unlimited delivered directly to your door or inbox monthly | August 2009


music | opera

Puccini Festival 2009 This year around 40,000 spectators are expected to attend the Festival Puccini in its open-air theatre to help celebrate the music of Giacomo Puccini, the most beloved composer of the 20th Century.

Giacomo Puccini


he Festival Puccini programme began in July in Torre del Lago, nestled between the Lake of Massaciuccoli and Tyrrhenian sea, near Viareggio. Torre del Lago is a favourite destination of opera lovers and tourists who wish to visit the places where the most beloved composer of the 20th century lived including the Villa Mausoleum. His mortal remains are now resting in a small chapel inside the Villa.

10 August 2009 |

A scene from Manon Lescaut

2009 Programme and Synopsis

Tosca (9-20 August) Direction and sets by Igor Mitoraj

Act I: Inside the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle

A scene fromTosca

The political prisoner Angelotti appears and hides in a side chapel. The church’s Sacristan enters, grumbling about having to wash the paintbrushes of the artist Cavaradossi who is completing a portrait of the Madonna. Cavaradossi returns and works on his picture, the features of which he has melded from two sources-the fair Marchesa Attavanti (Angelotti’s sister), and his own dark-eyed love, Floria Tosca. When the Sacristan leaves Angelotti emerges. Cavaradossi recognises him and the prisoner explains to the painter that he has just escaped from Scarpia’s incarceration. They are interrupted by the sound of Tosca’s voice outside the church, and Angelotti conceals himself again. Cavaradossi lets Tosca in and she is immediately disturbed by the fact that the painting resembles the Marchesa. Yet Cavaradossi reassures her of his love and they sing a duet. When she has gone Angelotti returns and his escape is planned - he will go to Cavaradossi’s estate and hide in the well there. They leave and the Sacristan begins to prepare the choir, having had the (false) news of Napoleon’s defeat at the battle of Marengo. The church gradually fills with a crowd and Scarpia comes in with his henchman Spoletta, searching for clues as to Angelotti’s whereabouts. It is noted that the lunch basket is empty, and Scarpia deduces that Argelotti has been there. When Tosca returns, Scarpia attempts to rouse her jealousy; and when she leaves he has her followed. As the congregation gathers, the tyrant is determined to have Cavaradossi

executed and to win Tosca for himself.

Act II: Scarpia’s apartment in the Palazzo Farnese Scarpia is dining when Spoletta enters to inform him that the search of Cavaradossi’s villa has proved fruitless, but that they have arrested him. He is led in and interrogated. Cavaradossi denies all knowledge of Angelotti, so Scarpia gives the order to have him tortured in the adjacent room. Tosca too is soon questioned yet also refuses to reveal Angelotti’s whereabouts… until she hears her lover’s cries of pain from the next chamber. Although Cavaradossi has instructed her not to reveal anything, she can’t help herself but inform Scarpia of Agelotti’s hiding place in the well. Cavaradossi is brought in again and is furious with her; but then the news comes that it was Napoleon that was triumphant after all, and Cavaradossi unleashes a cry of victory. Scarpia arrests him again for it, with the order that he is to be executed at dawn. Scarpia however promises to set the painter free if Tosca gives in to his advantages. Spoletta arrives with the news that Angelotti has killed himself when they discovered him. Bereft, Tosca promises to give herself to Scarpia; and the governor tells his henchman to set up a “mock execution”. Tosca insists he write a note of guaranteeing her’s and Cavaradossi’s safe conduct. Whilst he does so she picks up a letter knife, and when he comes forward to claim her she stabs him.

Act III: The battlements of Castel Sant’Angelo Prison at dawn An unseen shepherd sings a poignant song of love and death before Cavaradossi is led up to the battlements. Tosca appears and | August 2009 11

architecture | piazzas

Piazza San Lorenzo Lisa McGarry, author of The Piazzas of Florence, takes us on a personal tour of the city’s most favourite squares. This month she visits the Piazza of San Lorenzo, along with the August crowds… Photographs and map by Lisa McGarry

A feast for the eye and stomach ll year long, Piazza San Lorenzo teems with tourists visiting the church complex and browsing the outdoor market, and August is no exception. The city’s residents, however, are winding down for their holiday on the fifteenth, when just about the whole country comes to a standstill. The Italians have been taking Ferragosto, the ‘August holidays’, since Roman times, and


14 August 2009 |

Catholics also observe the Feast of the Assumption, marking Mary’s ascension into heaven, on the fifteenth of August. In any case, every Florentine who is able will flee to the mountains or seaside to escape the heat and the foreign visitors who take over their city, leaving Florence in the awkward position of hosting the summer crowds with fewer shops, restaurants and proprietors to accommodate them. People had always warned me that

San Lorenzo’s cloister – a haven of tranquillity in the heart of the city.


San Lorenzo complex and outdoor market

August was the worst time to come to Florence - between the heat, the crowds and the annual closings - but my curiosity finally got the better of me one year. It turned out to be a record breaking August, but I enjoyed seeing a new side of the city. And, now that I live here, I appreciate the month’s different rhythm (although I still feel compelled to list the potential drawbacks for anyone who’s contemplating a visit). The feast day of San Lorenzo takes place on August 10th; a celebration I look forward to every year. From Piazza San Giovanni I follow the Florentines in historic costume as the procession makes its way to San Lorenzo, wondering how the participants can bear to wear their velvets, brocades and feather headdresses on such a muggy and oppressive day. Special masses are also held | August 2009 15

micro tuscany | versilia


Blue Flag beaches, lush pine woods and mountain top stylish fashion boutiques and trend-setting nightclubs – Photos: Federico Neri

Where the mountains meet the sea

hen the temperature rises, Tuscans head either to the beach or the mountains to cool down. Covering an area of about 160 square kilometres along the North-Western Tuscan coast, Versilia has both mountains and sea. It is a richly diversified landscape comprising: the majestic mountains of the Apuan Alps national park – a magnificent backdrop to the colourful coastline; in the south the Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli regional park offers a wide variety of


Torre Matilde, Viareggio

20 August 2009 |


villages; exclusive seafood restaurants, achingly – the versatility of Versilia is pretty hard to beat… habitats - from the lush coastal pinewood to the salty swamps and lake. Sea lovers can leave the land behind to take part in dolphin and whale-watching cruises to the Cetacean Sanctuary, a water reserve located along the Tuscan Archipelago and the northern Tyrrhenian Sea where these amazing animals can be observed in their natural habitat.

History The human presence in Versilia dates back to the Neolithic Age and many traces can still be found. The Apuan Ligurians then

PiazzaTomini, exclusive shopping in Forte dei Marmi

occupied the territory and fortified mountain passes and hills. The Etruscans were also here, but left very few traces to their presence in the area. When the Romans arrived, they built roads such as the ancient Via Aurelia and colonised the area with villas, hamlets and villages. The Lombards later occupied the Roman settlements, providing the territory with a layout similar to the present one. A major development in Versilia’s history was the founding in the 13th Centuries of the two principal cities: Pietrasanta in the north and Camaiore in

the southern area. Pietrasanta was dominated by Lucca, Pisa and Genoa and finally in 1513 it went under control of Florence. Camaiore instead was under the rule of Lucca. These two cities have played an important role in the area up to 1700 but during the following years - with its port and land reclamation operations – Viareggio grew in importance and began to expand until it obtained the dignity of a city. Towards the end of the first half of the 19th Century Versilia gradually became popular as a healthy place for sea bathing

Beach life, Forte dei Marmi

The lake at Massaciuccoli is home to a vast variety of migratory birds – visit the LIPU reserve for some serious bird watching

All roads lead to Versilia’s sandy beaches | August 2009 21

life & style | shopping

Bini Silvia



48 August 2009 |

Profumeria Valchiria. Photo: Paolo Pinto

I’m dreaming of a place where sea, nature, art and shopping are close at hand - This is Viareggio, pearl of Versilia. La Passeggiata (the boardwalk) is Viareggio’s showcase: a large promenade that runs along the beachfront for over 3km, and is adorned with beautiful Liberty-style shops and cafés. My ideal shopping tour starts here, in the heart of promenade, just a few steps from the seashore home to many chic boutiques.


Fashion Boutiques BINI SILVIA DONNA Via le Marconi 71 Tel: 0584 31196 UOMO Via le Marconi 98 Tel: 0584 50351 SPOSA Via Flavio Gioia 33 Tel: 0584-942385 Web: Donna (woman), Uomo (man) and Sposa (bridal) boutiques are the most luxurious and fashionable spots in Viareggio, stocking more than 30 Italian and international brands. Not only

will you find the latest catwalk’s outfits, but also the most glamorous accessories at you disposal

CHELOTTI Via le Marconi 92/93 Tel: 0584 962161 Web: Chelotti is one of the oldest boutiques in Viareggio. This family business takes great pride in providing a great choice of items as well as client care and satisfaction.

Shoes GABRIELLI Via le Marconi 112 Tel: 0584-50317 Web: Gabrielli’s shoe shop dates back well into the last century and sells the leading names in shoe deisgn. From handcrafted summer clogs to ornate sandals, you’ll be ready for the gala dinner as well as for a city stroll.

Coffee and Books GRAN CAFFÉ RISTORANTE MARGHERITA Gran Caffé Margherita Viale Margherita, 30 Tel: 0584 962553 | August 2009 49

homes & gardens | interiors

Casa mia If you’ve found your dream house in Tuscany but are at a loss as to how do go about decorating and furnishing it to make it feel like home, property and interior design consultant Karen Hargadon-Feeney is here to share some great tips. Photographs: Karen Hargadon-Feeney


ollowing wonderful holidays with family and friends in the Chianti region I eventually discovered the enchanting northern tip of Tuscany known as Lunigiana. Enthralled by this magical land, myself, husband Jim and our daughter Emily decided to make the move here a few years ago. Our eldest daughter, Lauren stayed in England to embark on a degree in theatre and costume design, joining us as often as possible for holidays. Discovering Italy a little later in our lives, I can only describe the experience as truly beguiling; we were totally captivated by the vibrant simple lifestyle of this region. Rich in the important things in life; a sense of community and belonging to a warm and welcoming people. Happy, smiling and contented people who place the family above all else, quickly followed by the great importance of food - delicious homecooked food all grown and raised locally - and, of course proud of their wine, produced from their own vines minus the additives! If they aren’t eating, they’re talking about eating! We are often invited by neighbours to join them around the table. Here, every meal is a celebration, an opportunity for different generations to sit together and chatter about all things. Such a basic important time and one to be shared and enjoyed. It wasn’t difficult to fall in love with

60 August 2009 |

Tuscany, an area of immense beauty and charm, with majestic mountains and a breathtaking coastline with little washed houses winding down to the sea.

Style Source Having made the move to our new Tuscan home we struggled at first to find suitable items of furniture and linen to create the kind of interior style that would fit comfortably in Tuscany; complimenting the natural stone, old brick, marble and wood. Living within a rural area I soon discovered there were few places and little choice. However, I set out to visit other towns and made sure I went along to the local festas where I discovered wonderful artisans and people making beautiful bedlinen by hand. I trawled around the antique markets and gradually, over the years, have located the most exciting furniture producers and true artists creating fabulous home accessories. Beautifully labelled, handmade fragrant soaps and elegant shaped bottles containing sensual bath oils and salts; lamps, mirrors and ironwork to be envied and all individually designed and created here in Tuscany. Every month, I will be sourcing hidden treasures and sharing my discoveries with you, and offering tips to compliment your home in Tuscany. I believe a home should reflect individual personality and style. Beautiful, interesting homes

Tuscan Home: Il Giardino della Luna in Castiglione DelTerziere, Bagnone, Massa Carrara

are usually the ones where we find ourselves drawn to the walls; studying pictures, paintings, photographs, and reaching to touch interesting objects, feeling textures. I like my family and friends to feel relaxed and comfortable, curling up in an old favourite worn armchair curiously running their fingers through the pages of a book or magazine. The country houses here are just perfect for that; they’re relaxing and gentle on the eye. Surrounded by open meadows, rolling hills, mountains and rivers blessed with an abundance of wildflowers and nature, we feel truly alive! The light is different in this heavenly part of the world, quite illuminating and uplifting, there’s nothing grey about Tuscany.

stone, bricks or stucco, create the most wonderful canvas on which to create your new home. Linens in shades of whites or richer colours all seem to sit beautifully, offering a distinguished elegant style. My love and passion for this stunning area of Tuscany inspires me to take you on a journey seeking out the artisans and hidden treasures, discovering inspirational ways of adorning your home. I hope to provide you with a celebration of Tuscan crafts people, furniture producers and creators of individual ornaments. From fabulous tiles, chandeliers, table lamps, linen, tablecloths,

Tuscan Tones A warm, rich palette of terracotta, rich reds, golds, greens and deep blues are all colours associated with Tuscany and its landscape. A style embracing the natural elements and earthy materials. Natural materials work in harmony with cracked stucco and textured walls. Green shuttered windows filled with natural sunlight can work well simply left undressed or enhanced with simple linen arranged in a stylish drape or simple swag. Lovely old | August 2009 61

homes & gardens | dig tuscany

TUSCAN GARDEN: AUGUST It might be the month of Ferragosto – traditionally the time when the whole of Tuscany shuts down and goes on holiday – but there are still plenty of jobs to keep gardeners busy. Tuscan garden expert, Simone Lippi, shares his top tips on jobs to do, and introduces his plant of the month…


deciduous plant, coming originally from Asia, it was named by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in memory of his friend, Magnus Von Lagerstroem. It can be cultivated either as a bush or as a small tree and can grow to 7-8 metres. Its pale and streaked-pink stalk is very smooth, with a thin bark that tends to peel away over the years.

A 70 August 2009 |

Leaves are dark green during the summer months before turning to warmer shades of orange, yellow and brown in autumn. From mid-July to September-October it is covered with beautiful bundles, called panicles, of pink flowers that take on a rich, deeper colour in the evening.

CULTIVATION This plant’s cultivation is extremely simple as it has very few needs. It adapts easily to both sunny and partially shady positions and can stand Mediterranean summer temperatures as well as those of the harshest of winters. It prefers soil rich in organic

Lagerstroemia indica – Crape Myrtle.

or clay substances but it can also adapt to other kinds of soil. This plant does not require special fertilizers, although in order to guarantee high quality growth, flowering and foliage, I advise you to use a chemical-organic fertilizer in spring, and, if possible, a light organic fertilizer in autumn. As for its watering, if the plant is young, it is advisable to water preferably in the morning if there is a long period of drought in summer. One pruning is sufficient, at the end of winter on last year’s branches; slightly more than half its original length.

DISEASES When the first summer heat and humidity arrive it can suffer from various diseases, which are easy to cure. In the case of the oidio disease (powdery mildew), treat the plant in the cooler hours of the day with a sulphurbased or tebuconazolo product. With aphids such as plant lice or greenflies, treat the plant, once again in the cool of the day, with insecticides, for example, with the active principle ‘imidacloprid’.

PLACING As it is of a medium-to-small size, this lovely, elegant plant can be used in relatively small gardens, by itself or in groups of three, or to give importance to a house’s entrance. By planting along driveways, interspaced with cypress trees, you can create wonderful contrast between its pink flowers and the dark green of the cypresses. It is also well worth mentioning that it has a remarkable resistance to atmospheric pollution. I highly recommend it: try it and you will undoubtedly be pleased with your decision.

Powdery mildew (oidio disease) is a common, but easily treated disease that affects Crape Myrtle. | August 2009 71

activities | mountain biking


74 August 2009 |

Meandering, gentle forest trails or fast 1,500m descents – whatever gets your pedals going, the perfect biking region of Garfagnana is a must for mountain bike enthusiasts, writes outdoors man, Rupert Yates-Bell.

Words: Rupert Yates-Bell Photographs: Bruno Giovannetti ountain biking over the past 10 years has come a long way. The development of bikes, frames and the all-important suspension, has allowed bikers to head off and discover trails, tracks and routes that only recently would have been classed as impassable due to the type of terrain found in mountain areas. Cycling in Italy, ciclismo and having a bici da corsa (a road bike) is an Italian passion. You see evidence of this on the roads of Italy that are full of cyclists. But the mountain bike is still a bit of a novelty in Italy. Both sides of the coin are good. There is no doubt, road and mountain biking are both great; but the sheer exhilaration, adventure and isolation in the wilds of the mountains you get from mountain biking cannot be surpassed. Trekking for sure measures up, but the sense of freedom and ability to cover more ground on a mountain bike wins it for me. In 1996 I was still riding a rigid-frame mountain bike; leading tours in the Garfagnana region in northern Tuscany.


After a long downhill session on rough roads, trying to break with the old cantilever system, my forearms (and fingers) were no more; but I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat at the end of it! Thirteen years on, I now have mountain bikes with modern disc brakes that stop in all conditions with hardly any effort, but the want to explore and discover trails in the Garfagnana has never subsided. Even if it means carrying my bike up the side of a mountain just for the thrill of descending down the other side. If I was smiling before, you should see me now!

Cross-Country Mecca The Garfagnana area, which has long been a haven for walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, is now turning into a Mecca for cross-country mountain biking with 1,000’s of kilometres of trails, mule tracks and forestry roads to be found. Trails which pass through national parks, such as the Alpi Apuane national park and the national park Tosco-Emiliano that runs along the Appennine mountain chain, | August 2009 75

activities | breakaway

Dancing with horses Il Paretaio is a riding centre that specialises in classical dressage riding holidays and tuition, situated in the centre of Chianti, in a peaceful, picturesque valley surrounded by vineyards, olive trees and woods.

Fun for all ages

l Paretaio is an excellent centre for those riders wishing to learn more about classical dressage; to experience a true sense of lightness. For the school and trails there are 30 well trained horses of various breeds amongst them Dutch Warmbreds, Italian sports horses and ponies, the native Maremma, Lusitanos and Arabians. Owners, Gianni and Cristina De Marchi have spent many years training with the


80 August 2009 |

great classical dressage masters of the National Stud in Portugal. They take great pride in their horses and a genuine interest in teaching their riding guests. Il Paretaio is a centre of excellence for riders who wish to learn more about classical dressage and to experience a true sense of lightness – to feel at one with the horse. But riders of all ages and levels, from beginners to intermediate levels, are welcome here. Lessons are taken in small groups

Stunning views of the surrounding area


l riding out with wine tasting (non riders can join by car). l cooking classes l help with itineraries to visit the country side l bike rental l bookings for museums in Florence Delicious home cooking

Typical accommodation

Co-owner, Cristina De Marchi demonstrates classical dressage movement

(maximum four riders but very often they are semi-private lessons with only two riders) in the outdoor arena, with fantastic views of the valley. The packages include two lessons a day, usually one in the morning and one late afternoon, leaving the guests free to relax by the swimming pool or sightsee the surrounding many beautiful villages or Florence and Siena. They can also organise rides out with wine tasting in a lovely medieval tiny village.

Non-riders can join by car. Guests are accommodated in the ancient and fascinating farmhouse that dates back to the 18th Century. Il Paretaio still retains the original terracotta floors, arched ceilings and wooden beams so typical of the traditional Tuscan house. The atmosphere is very warm and friendly and guests can look forward each evening to a Tuscan four-course meal prepared by two Italian local ladies, complimented by excellent Chianti wine. TU

CONTACTS: Tel: 05558059218 Email: Website: | August 2009 81

activites | road trip


- a land of many colours Pristine landscape, authentic food, old Medici villas, ancient country parish churches and solitary convents – the Mugello Valley is a place for those who feel like explorers; for those who aren’t afraid of jumping over a fence to explore an abandoned property, writes local tour guide, Olivia Vannini.


he valley of Mugello is one of Tuscany’s bestkept treasures. It might be less famous than other areas in Tuscany, such as Chianti or Val d’Orcia, but there is a great deal to be discovered in this green valley. The region, 20-30 km north-east of Florence, is formed by two distinct geographical areas, called the Mugello Valley (the area that we will be exploring in this article) and the Upper Mugello (Alto Mugello). The wide Mugello Valley is bordered by the Appennini mountains to the north, by Monte Giovi and Monte Senario to the south and by the Monti della Calvana to the west, beyond which lies the province of Prato. These beautiful mountaintops are the crowning glory of this valley, giving the impression that Mother Nature had intentionally created this harmonic shape. The nature here is quite varied, from the thick and impervious woodlands to the fertile, cultivated fields. In

August, when the sunflowers make their annual show, the contrast between the yellow and green is eyepopping. In the fertile valley (once a prehistoric lake), are the villages and small towns of Borgo San Lorenzo, Vicchio, Scarperia, San Piero, Barberino and Vaglia - all in the province of Florence. The farmers, when cultivating this area, often find ancient shells and prehistoric animal bones which may be the secret ingredient that gives the extra flavour to the local renowned cereals! The Medici family, which rose to power in Florence in the 15th century, originated from Mugello. Many palaces and castles belonging to the family, adorn the landscape attesting to this glorious period. The valley is also home to the MotoGP racetrack, an aircraft flight school and even a lake famous for its nautical club and windsurf school.



1. Fiesole 2. Medici Castle


3. Montesenario Convent 4.Palazzo dei Vicari

4. | August 2009 83

Tuscany Unlimited Magazine August 2009 - Content Teaser  

Tuscany's newest indispensable A-to-Z of Tuscan life - for expats who have made Tuscany their home and intrepid visitors who want to discove...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you