• fantastic journeys,  THE TREASURE MAP,  Uncategorized

    Mont Saint Michel, legend of tides

                Is it a castle or an island? Is that the desert or the sea? Is it Bretagne or Normandie? Each day, this castle becomes an island, then the sea withdraws to leave treacherous sands behind. Meanwhile, a whimsical little river draws the border between the two realms, making Mont St. Michel part of Normandy. The mountain has always been a place of awe; beautiful and inaccessible, it caused many to perish at the mercy of tides. And as it happens with so many places of awe and beauty, it has always been a site of worship. In the early days of Christianity, monks were…

  • fantastic journeys,  Uncategorized

    Driving through Chianti Classico

      Follow La Strada del Chianti and stop along the way to your heart’s desire. Etruscans were first here, then Romans drove their carts on these roads. A land of tremendous beauty and forever radiating serenity, the wine road witnessed the obsessive conflicts between Florence and Siena, undisturbed by battles and time. Looking at the map, the villages, vineyards and castles of Chianti Classico can be found along the SR222. We started from our beloved Monteriggioni and went up through Castellina to Greve in Chianti, then round towards Castelnuovo Berardenga in our search for Brolio Castle.  In Castellina, we walked the Via delle Volte and visited the Rocca Comunale, the…

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    But first we Florence in style

    It is that time of the year. Grape harvest season means #Toscanaforthehappyfew. Two weeks of the slow, artful, almost timeless happiness in the Tuscan countryside. But first we Florence in style. When Stendhal visited Florence for the first time, he experienced a one-time feeling: a mixture of amazement, and beatitude and exhilaration that proved literally overwhelming. He was dizzy and confused and sick with emotion, while phisically incapable of leaving the city. I felt it too, my first time in Firenze: the allure, the wonder, the perfect beauty and the unconceivable happiness of just being there. You know that special tension you feel when you’re desperately in love, a perpetuum of excitement,…

  • fantastic journeys,  THE TREASURE MAP

    Peniche

    One more stop he said. We were chasing daring lighthouses, pure beaches and wild coastline, as usual. It had been a very hot day in August, the kind of day that makes everything quiet and brings out the light in everything, white houses and white sands surrounded by a shimmering halo, people scarce and wrinkled by sun and dry winds. Coming down from Nazare along the coast, we had taken a scourging trip inland to see Fatima and Batalha, and were heading to Obidos for the night. Tired with heat and long drive, I was looking forward to the cool walls, green ivy and refreshing chatter of the Obidos fortress at night.…

  • everydaymagic,  fantastic journeys

    300 years of Chianti Classico

      On Sept. 24, 1716, the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III de’ Medici officially delineated the borders of the Chianti wine region. Which basically makes him a personal favorite and a hero. Him and Barone Ricasoli, of course. Cosimo had quality control teams patrolling the vineyards in the area and made sure that no other wine outside this blessed realm could be called Chianti, ever again. A predecessor to what would become the modern Denominazione d’Origine Controllata (DOC) and DOCG wine labeling system, the Grand Duke’s act was the first of its kind in Europe. Genius. 300 years later, thehappyfew couldn’t have missed the celebrations. On September 24, 2016,…

  • fantastic journeys

    Outside Valencia: 3 escapes

    AZAHAR means “citrus blossom”, and the word has a ring to it and stays with you forever once you’ve seen the orange trees in bloom. Valencia has it all for a truly captivating holiday; the sea and the oranges and the food and the urban surprises, and even some happy escapes that you can try if you’re feeling adventurous. As I said, driving in Valencia is completely stress-free, and outside Valencia you have the usual Spanish quality roads, so there is absolutely no reason to not venture beyond.

  • everydaymagic,  fantastic journeys

    Istanbul survival guide: best things

    One word for it: spectacular. Another two words for it: Grand Bazaar; that’s a very good synonym. Istanbul is a love it or not story, but a must-see nevertheless. You can never hate it, no matter how chaotic it may seem at times, but you will find there is a very thin line between loving it and simply visiting it off. I found that most people are thoroughly addicted to Istanbul, but thehappyfew will need this prose in order to feel the poetry. I have some of the best things in Istanbul, some snobbish advice and some personal tips. Here it goes. Best things in Istanbul The whole world becomes…

  • everydaymagic,  fantastic journeys,  THE TREASURE MAP

    Val d’Orcia and the ideal city

    One fine day, the Architect looked out of the window to see the future; he saw a utopian landscape of pale green fields and pure skies, rolling into forever. Then he took a brush and four colors and started painting: pale yellowish green for the fields, dark green for the cypresses, blue azzuro for the skies and warm brown for the roads and the farms. You think I’m being rather corny, poetic with a touch of mysticism. I can be all that, but today I’m merely factual. The Val d’Orcia, another world favorite of the happy few, is a region of perfect landscape south of Siena, included in the UNESCO…

  • everydaymagic,  fantastic journeys

    Dolce far’niente

    I wake up in an aura of light, immersed in lazy serenity and completely brainwashed of everything past. The wooden sun-blinds allow luminous paths on the fresh white linens, fairy dust dances in the light and a delicate rustle sings through the slightly open window. It is the silent music of cypresses and old olive trees, when you wake up at 9 past, at your Tuscan farm. Our home is secretly nestled on the hills near Monteriggioni, far from the world and deep into wonderland. It has views over the hills of Chianti Classico, Castellina and Greve at day and the starriest sky over at night.