Pietrasanta, Tuscany: Living With Art

My husband and I have been traveling around Tuscany for the last two weeks.  There are so many beautiful places that one can soon lose count of all there is to see.

One town not well-known by American tourists is the historic town of Pietrasanta in northwestern Tuscany.  Pietrasanta has been a marble and art town since before the time of Michelangelo who came here to find the whitest possible marble.  Henry Moore also spent much time in Pietrasanta and, today, artists such as Fernando  Botero live here part of the year.

On of the most valuable gifts from Pietrasanta to the world are the marble artisans who take the clay or plaster cast sculptures of the artists and transform them in beautiful marble statues.  They still use their old manual instruments to transform the dimensions of the small originals to the large statues.  They do have some modern machinery and computer help now but most of the work is still done by hand by specialized artisans.

The statuary was beautiful and it was also fun to see works by Gina Lollobrigida and the figures of Superman and Batman.

Most any significant marble work of art or architecture has originated in Pietrasanta.  Pietrasanta is also a center for foundry work. Old works of art stand next to the new such as the paradise and inferno frescoes by Botero.

Our dear friend Ambra escorted us to a very large and well-known marble workshop Laboratorio Cervietti where we witnessed some of the marble workmanship first-hand and saw sculptures from past exhibits.  This was indeed a special treat.

The small town is also full of art galleries, shops, excellent  restaurants and wine shops and boutique hotels. There are often exhibits near the central ‘piazza’ near the beautiful duomo and campanile.  One can sit at the Caffe Michelangelo and gaze out at all the goings on.

Pietrasanta is definitely worth a visit.

See photo gallery: Click here

Next Posts Will Be From Italy

I’m off to Italy with my husband and will be posting events and pictures directly from there.  We hope to get to the Internationl Gelato Festival in Florence, among other things.

Provided our baggage weight can pass inspection (too many gifts for relatives), I we will be in touch from Florence, Tuscany.

Ciao for now,


Race of the Giant Candles in Gubbio, Italy

Every May 15th in Gubbio (Umbria), Italy, three teams carry a statue of their saint mounted on a wooden octagonal prism, similar to an hour-glass shape 4 metres tall and weighing about 280

For full article in L’Italo-Americano, click here.

Carrying Enormous Candles

Race of the Giant Candles

Creative, Passionate Chef Teaches Tuscan Cuisine At Lorenza De Medici’s Cooking School in Tuscany

When Lorenza De Medici,  famous author and cookbook writer, founded  the Badia a Coltibuono cooking school over 20 years ago in the Chianti region, she provided an idyllic setting for visitors to learn the secrets of authentic regional Italian cuisine. Highly-trained Tuscan chef Andrea Gagnesi is carrying on her original idea while adding modern techniques and recipes to his teachings.

I was fortunate enough to visit the school when I visited Italy last September and witness an actual class. Chef Andrea’s English is excellent and the group of tourist/students were captivated and enthusiastic.

The rustic kitchen in this 1000-year-old abbey is amazing.  Add to that ambiance the juxtaposition of the freshest possible display of simple-but-exquisite ingredients (like fresh sheep milk ricotta, beautiful garden vegetables, and the abbey’s own organic e.v.o.o) and you have magic.

On the particular day I visited, Chef Andrea created a number of courses.

Among these were freshly made Paccheri (a rustically cut pasta) with a sauce made from uncooked tomatoes and fresh herbs, individual servings of eggplant parmesan, and an aromatic Panzanella (a Florentine summer salad of bread and tomatoes).  The dessert was individually baked crostate (tortes) with extra virgin olive oil dough instead of the usual butter dough (pasta frolla).

My fellow traveler Ginny and I were lucky enough to sample all the courses among the general ooohs and aaahs of the students.

The cooking courses are held from March to November, and offer a splendid chance to immerse oneself in the unique lifestyle and hospitality of a 1000 year old abbey while savoring the fantastic tastes and sights that this beautiful region offers.

The lessons are taught by Tuscan Chef Andrea Gagnesi who has a perfect command of English , a natural easy going style and a hand’s on approach, Andrea ensures that guests bring home authentic Italian recipes and menus to be used year round for all occasions.

Cooking School: http://www.coltibuono.com/pagebase.asp?s=18&s2=61

Chef Gagnesi’s Blog (With Recipes): http://andreagagnesi.blogspot.com/

First Time Ever: Sky Section of Siena’s Duomo Open to Public

From now until October 27, 2013, the “Sky” section of the beautiful Duomo of Siena will be accessible to tourists.

Finally, after centuries of renovations, visitors will be lead by a guide through hidden walkways, indoor and outdoor balconies and spiral staircases to view the famous ceiling.

Duomo of Siena on view for the first time ever.

See the “Starry Skies” of Siena

This is the first opportunity to view the starry sky frescoes on the vaults of the structure – also known as Porta del Cielo (Door of Heaven).

This is worth a trip to Tuscany!

Click here for complete story at Dream of Italy:

Gelato University in Italy for International Students

Whether you are a passionate home-based gelato enthusiast or a professional pastry chef, these courses are designed to maximize your gelato-making talent.

Learn to make gelato

Eat your way through school by starting with dessert!

Learn from gelato masters  in Italy (classes are available in English) at courses that vary from one day to four weeks. You can study at the Gelato University in Italy (near Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region of central Italy), you can attend courses in a variety of countries or even online.

Carpigiani Gelato University is an international center of learning dedicated to training entrepreneurs who want to enter the gelato business or who already work with gelato and want to improve their abilities. Around 12,000 courses every year are donein our gelato school by top chefs.


Started by the manufacturers of the well-known Carpigiano professional gelato machines, university representatives state:

Indeed, our main goals are developing the art and science of gelato production, the comprehensive training of gelato entrepreneurs, and the promotion of Italian gelato as a natural and flavorful food suitable for all cultures.

For more information: