Journal

A life of contemplation: Abbey of Santi Nazaro and Celso

The Benedictine Abbey of Santi Nazaro and Celso was founded in 1040. It was also a fortification hence the disproportionate watch tower.

It seems like every town and city in the Piemonte region of north west Italy features a magnificent historical building, or two. If, like me, you appreciate classical architecture, incredible gardens and exquisite frescoes this should be on your list of places to visit. This part of Italy is so different from the sunny climes further south and it has a distinctly Gothic atmosphere.

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The Italian job

A still from Bitter Rice (Riso Amaro) with Silvana Mangano (1949). Dir. Giuseppe De Santis on the hotel reception wall

Last month I spent some time in the Piemonte region of Italy well known for skiiing in the winter and summer sports such as canoeing. I was visiting the many beautiful historic sites, more on that to come soon. In between times, I fell in love all over again with Italian style from the architecture, interior design, shops, food and more.

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Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh

The Valley of the Kings

A new blockbuster exhibition opened last week at the Saatchi Gallery, London. 150 treasures are on display at Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh as part of a world tour before returning forever to Egypt. Over 60 pieces are on loan outside their home country for the first time. London is the third stop in a ten-city world tour, which broke records in Los Angeles before becoming France’s most attended exhibition ever attracting over 1.4 million attendees. The hottest ticket in town this winter!

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Afternoon delight: sweet Biscottini

Camporelli’s a fifth generation bakery

In Novara in the Piemonte region of Northern Italy there’s a little bakery where golden, crisp, light-as-a-feather biscottini have been made since 1852 using a 16th century recipe created by the nuns in the 1500s to bake biscuits for the Pope.

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Wine launch: first ever Blanc de Blancs from Jenkyn Place

Chardonnay grapes ready to harvest at Jenkyn Place.

I was honoured to be invited to the inugural tasting of the first ever Blanc de Blancs 2015 by Jenkyn Place Vineyard in Hampshire. The English wine industry is a fast-growing area for wine tourism and British wines are winning awards! There are 522 commercial vineyards and 164 wineries in the UK. Wine production is predicted to reach some 40m bottles by 2040. (Source: Wine GB).

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Emily Brontes’ Yorkshire

The ruins of Whitby Abbey

Yorkshire is everything Emily Bronte promised in her most successful book, Wuthering Heights. Vast, wild and breathtakingly beautiful. I stayed recently at Gisborough in the heart of the moors and took a day out to explore the coastal town of Whitby which has literary links to another famous writer, Bram Stoker, creator of Dracula.

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