Saturday, 3 November 2012


Regular readers of this shockingly irregular blog will be aware of my huge passion for Italy.
I love Italy and have done ever since my twenty-first birthday when my parents asked if I wanted a ring or a watch and I replied, "No, all I want in the whole wide world is to see Michelangelo's David!".

So off I went to a magical place called Firenze where I hunted out the David, ate rather a lot of cheese omelette (omelette alla formagio was one of the few things I could ask for with a passably good accent) and bought myself a gorgeous handbag, in the dark green colour of one of those paintbrush-tip-shaped conifers you see all over the country.

I've just been reading that provincial capitals in Italy are about to be merged for reasons of cost-cutting, including the Tuscan cities of Pisa and Livorno.  They are only fifteen miles apart but they have been separated for centuries by a relationship of "cordial loathing" (don't you just love that expression?).   Which goes some way to explaining the Livorno saying "Better a death in the house than a Pisan at the door."  Am trying to imagine this being said about two places in England (say, Bath and Bristol) and somehow it just doesn't seem to work with the same degree of reasonable passion.

I'm off to Umbria very soon and Venice - and in 2013 I shall be taking my Tuscan writing course at the glorious Watermill .  I think there are a few places left.

In the meantime, here's a picture of the very best soup additive in the world.  Chuck a handful into a pot of vegetables and stock and you have yourself a feast.

So which country makes your heart beat a little faster?


  1. Great blog post. And might explain why your son likes all things Italian so much!

    I think France makes my heart beat faster than most other places. Am off to Paris in three weeks and can't wait!!!

  2. Also, what is that vegetable?

    1. If you mean the green-leaved vegetable on the front of the packet - not sure. But it's probably a plant which bears beans because that's what the pack contains: a great soup mixture of different dried lentils and beans.
      And (as I'm sure you know!) "Zuppa Primavera" translates as "spring soup".

      Enjoy Paris!

  3. Actually, I didn't know that! As the Irish might say, I don't have a word of Italian!

  4. I would say Italy ,I have never been there but the history,art and food has always fascinated me and I would adore to go one day.

  5. I'm rather fond of a 'frittata' myself. Plenty of discontent about these regional changes, I don't blame them. It's akin to classifying Southampton in the province of Portsmouth of vice versa. Isn't it curious that certain Italian cities still have English names? Turin, Padua, Venice, Naples... Yet you never hear people I saw, "I'm off to Leghorn!"

    1. Yes, linking Southampton with Portsmouth doesn't really bear thinking about, does it?
      And I'd never thought about the anglicisation of Italian place-names before, so thanks for that, Patrick.

  6. Believe me, there'd be a great deal of passion against merging Bath and Bristol - not least from the residents of Keynsham caught in the middle between them!


  7. I love soups too. We have a "culture" of this food here, we always try different ones. My mother is a real chef at cooking them. Lentils and little pieces of bread, beans, spelt, potatoes and's my favourite kind of food during cold winters.
    That "cordial loathing" you talk about is well-known and it sounds like a Shakesperian tale...but it hasn't the mesmerizing charm of Montagues & Capulets' hatred.
    I think that a country which makes my heart beat faster so far is Egypt...for several reasons.
    P.S. By mail the reasons why I replied so late. x

  8. meant *Shakespearean... :)