September 12, 2019

The best pizzas are cooked over olive or chestnut wood. This burns hotter than most woods therefore the pizza cooks quicker and picks up delicious smokey edges.

One of my favourites is Pizza Bianca. The base has a small coating of mozzarella & tomato sauce, a generous layer of proscuitto (Parma ham) with dollops of marscapone cream which makes it wonderfully indulgent.

The Pizza Bianca can come in two ways, without having the base layer of tomato sauce and having the Parma ham cooked or uncooked – cotto / crudo. Both are fantastic.

Pizza funghi with added marscapone because we love it!!

Da Pinzo is open every day apart from Wednesday and has a full menu as well as pizzas. Her house red grapes are grown near us at Mastiano as it very good.



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September 11, 2019

We eat in all types of restaurants and one of our favourites is a cheap and cheerful experience, Osteria da Giomo. It serves great food at an unbelievably reasonable price with great views and tables outside. The service is charming too. What I really like is there isn’t a menu, they just keep on bringing out lots of lovely local seasonal food. It is really busy with locals so it’s essential to book.

OSTERIA da GIOMO, via di mezzo 3, Valgiano, 55100 Lu. Closed Monday

On Maundy Thursday it’s an Italian tradition to only eat fish and vegetables (there would be plenty of meat eaten during the rest of Easter).

The meal consisted of two anti pasti’s – fish & tomato bruschettas and vegetable & fish couscous, two pastas – crespelle (pancake stuffed with fish) & shell fish pasta. A plate of prawns and seafood.

A huge plate of fritto misto & salad followed by fig tart and coffee. Price for two with a litre of vino rosso and a free glass of Lemoncello €50.

At other times of year, they always have a starter or two, a plate of meats and mixed bruschettas, two pastas followed by a meat course, a crostata and coffee. We have never been disappointed.

We also love Da Giomo in the summer so we can eat on their terrace over looking Lucca. It has a very Greek taverna feel.

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September 9, 2019

We love walking on or running on the walls of Lucca so it’s brilliant to learn there is a Park 5k run every Saturday @ 9.00. If you’re keen and want to keep fit please register. The Park run is a brilliant event

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August 8, 2019

Shortly after we purchased Casa A Corte we bought several jasmines to grow up and partially cover our beautiful  stala (barn we use for storage). We loved the smell so much we decided to plant more around our large kitchen and dining room terrace. The perfume from the flowers is incredible.

Marcelo our friendly local from Gugliano is a very keen gardener and encouraged us to cover our kitchen terrace, making it an outdoor room, which is a lovely cool place to eat without the direct rays from the Tuscan sunshine.

After April and May the rain stops until September/ October apart from the odd storm with the grass changing from emerald green to gold.

Despite the hot summer temperatures our farmer  Gianfranco & brother still work in the full sun. Farming in Italy is a very tough job. Gianfranco wears a different hat for every job. Hay making requires a black beret, whereas spraying the grapes has to be made from a brown paper bag – who said the English are eccentric??

I love the golden hour, the perfect light that lasts about an hour at dawn and dusk which is perfect for artists. It has a beautiful warm softness. This light has attracted artists to southern Europe for hundreds of years.

Yana, one of our lovely guests painted some beautiful water colours. Her observations and use of bold colours around the house and garden were stunning and really captured the spirit and warmth of Tuscany.



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August 8, 2019

After Hugh’s winning series Italian Ingredients at the AOP Awards it was lovely shooting another lovely  project with Sacla, one of the great Italian and British food businesses supplying Italian produce.

Fresh garlic


Quadratto di Asti peppers

Courgette pasta

N’duja and burrata bruschetta

When in doubt, eat n’duja whether on pasta or pizza.

Weren’t the Romans brilliant for inventing these great ingredients

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June 27, 2019

Buonamico is a fine producer of wine and olive oil in Montecarlo, in the mountains north of Lucca.

Whereas Tenuta di Valgiano is very old school and artisan producing fine red wines which are drunk in many Michelin * restaurants around the world Buonamico is very contemporary. It’s well known for superb white and rose wines, we especially like the pink & white fizz. Buonamico was set up by two wine producers from Piedmont who both had wives from the Montecarlo area.

Syrah restaurant, Buonamico

Tordelli, local pork and veal stuffed pasta from Lucca.

Buonamico vines

Buonamico wine resort

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June 27, 2019

Bavette e Arselle is a wonderful pasta dishes from Viareggio and is on the menu at Da Miro on the port in Viareggio   . The tiny sweet clams are caught in shrimping nets in the surf and usually served with Bavette pasta.

Allessandro from the Gastronomea, Ponte a Moriano serves arselle on Friday.

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May 9, 2019

We are really lucky to have such a good support team at Abitalia.

Mayla is wonderfully calm and runs the office in nearby Via Salvatore Quasimodo, 28 bis, 55023 Diecimo, LU. Telephone: +39 0583 838631. Nick Watson & Sally also work in the office. Please note the office is closed for lunch, just like all businesses in Italy.

You may meet our brilliant house keeper Angela who does a brilliant job in the house.

PierLuigi looks after the garden, pool cleaning and lawn. He generally works on Saturdays when guests leave. Rafa is a wonderful artisan craftsman and checks the pool chemicals once a week usually on Friday morning. If you need any help they can probably assist. They are both charming.

Pier Luigi and Rafa.

No one else should be on the property, although Italy and much of Europe has the ‘right to roam’ policy. The only person you might see looking at the grapes is Gian Franco, the farmer & his brother. Gian Franco generally has a different hat for each job. Rafa speaks very good English.

GianFranco & Guglielmo don’t speak English but are a delight.

You might meet lovely Marcello out of season looking at the olive trees.

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March 20, 2019

One of our favourite restaurants, probably in the world is La Pineta. It’s basically a shack on the beach serving amazing seafood earning a Michelin *. It is 75mins south of our house at Marina di Bibbona.

Tragically the chef and proprietor Luciano Zazzeri committed suicide this week. How sad a man with this beautiful sea view felt the need to end his life. His wife and lovely sons work in the restaurant; it seemed like the perfect life.

Photographer Oliviera Toscani saw him the day before and he was as warm & friendly as ever.

Baccala 3 ways

Freddie enjoying the sunset. The best place to enjoy dinner.

I thoroughly recommend a romantic meal on the beach (take your bikinis & trunks) on a warm balmy sunny evening.

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February 20, 2019

Last August our son organised a boat hire in the Cinque Terre (Five Lands but really is 5 villages). I was a bit surprised but he was insistent and as he paid we didn’t argued. His idea was to show his girlfriend how beautiful the Cinque Terre is.

We had always walked or taken the large public boat from Lericci, parking in the large car park above the town.

Freddie spoke to the owner of Rayo Verde Tour (boat rental – see nearest boat) +39 342 3940692 and organised the 4hours Portovenere for our boat trip and swimming. Dario is a very charming and obliging Italian, the type of person you are happy spending time with. (He also does shorter sunset trips).

We met at Manarola harbour which is about 75-90mins drive from A Corte, has good car parking facility above the town and nice cafes to breakfast and lunch in.

The trip was amazing. The boat was great, lunch and drinks provided and you cruise around the most beautiful 15km coastline.

Our private boat trip cost about €400 but it was worth it. I think the boat takes about 6 people. You can also go on a much bigger public boat from Lerici for a small fee which stops at all the 5 points. You can also walk on the Cinque Terre which is a national park. Take your camera, goggles and flippers for when you co for a swim.

The 5 points are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. These are also connected by train. If you want to eat a larger meal I suggest Lerici as the Cinque Terre does become busy and the food may be rushed?

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