These are stories about major events that take place in and around Tuscany. They can involve many people and are publicized in some way, or they can be private gatherings of only a few. In any case, they are events that have the power to shift perspectives and possibly even change lives.

Mailman by day and architect by night. Poet and visionary. In his own words chiseled into the walls of his beloved Palais Idéal, Ideal Palace, he said the following: “In creating this rock, I wanted to prove what the will can do,” and “work of only one man.” His life is truly an incredible story of single-handed persistence and possibility! (more…)

Walking down a narrow side street in Lyon, on my way for a morning coffee, I (em) caught a glimpse in my peripheral vision of what appeared to be a small salon de coiffure hommes, which basically means barber shop.

Committed to living on the dazzling edge of intuition and spontaneity, I instinctively veered to the right, and found myself standing in the doorway, face to face with Henri B. I didn’t really need a haircut, but the spirit moved me, so there we stood, in close proximity. He was a pleasant man with a gentle demeanor, but spoke no English whatsoever, nor did he want to try. Mostly, we agreed to talk intermittently without any overriding need to understand each other. (more…)

Many people have asked us over the years, “How did that fantastic international game of Bocce Bale ever get started, anyway?”

Well . . . once upon a time . . . three years ago, we were out on our evening meadow walk with our friend Joan. It happened to be the end of June, and Stefano, our local farmer friend had just cut and baled the grass in the fields. Well . . . Joan is an artist, and as you might expect, was captivated by the beauty of the sculptural round forms dotting the landscape. We all talked about them as we walked, playfully winding our way in and out of the geometric grass cylinders, marveling at the beauty of nature. (more…)

An invitation arrived 6 months ago by email. Simple. Straightforward.

The message read, “At their place in Tuscany, some friends are hosting an event to launch my latest book, Etruscan Evenings. We hope you’ll be able to join us! Kind regards, Linda Lambert.”

Linda included the names of her “Tuscan” hosts, Baron William, and Baroness Miranda Taxis, who were nearing completion of their renovated casa colonica, farmhouse just south of Arezzo. (Linda even included them in the book.) Since we’d given up fancy events some dozen or so years ago, we hesitated. But, we’d read both of Linda’s books and we wanted to support her dreams and efforts. This was definitely an interesting invitation—a unique chance to meet some British expats, enjoy our friends Linda and Morgan, and mingle with a diverse group of people. The idea of being in one of Tuscany’s ancient homes, coupled with the anticipation of a mini road-trip through the enchanting countryside, clinched the deal. (more…)

Unfortunately, it’s true.

One year ago I visited family in Indiana. Strolling from the plane to the baggage claim, I admired the Weir Cook Terminal at the new Indianapolis International Airport. I thoroughly enjoyed the architecture, the open spaces and the great environment that had been created. It was functional yet beautiful. Nice! Job well done! But above all, I was thrilled to see the artwork that was included at key locations. A commitment to the arts has always been a sign of civility and appreciation. It speaks of broader perspectives—leadership and vision. The Arts bring a much needed reflective quality, a sense of playfulness or a nudge of provocation—while they speak of the unseen currents that animate our lives. Powerful stuff! (more…)

California has a reputation. It’s laid back, casual. Beachy. Of course, those of us in northern CA are not beachy, but tell someone that you’re from CA and immediately they say, “Oh, perpetual summer. Beaches. Bay Watch.” In fact, California’s reputation can lead some to think that whatever happens in CA is “lite.”  But we can be a pretty serious lot. Take our holiday decorations, for example. No one in their right mind would want to miss the 1.5 mile winding drive through the Vasona Lake Park. Why? To totally immerse themselves in the very serious lights display. (more…)

According to the classic story of the Velveteen Rabbit, becoming REAL is everything in life. And if that story has a thread of truth in it, then Brandi Carlile is well on her way. At 30-something she has talent and insight beyond her years, as anyone who listens to her storytelling can attest. We enjoy her music and have been trying to catch one of her concerts for years, but we were never in the same place at the same time—that is, until last Tuesday. (more…)

In the Ligurian town of Rapallo, along the northern coast of Italy, three brothers are making a name for themselves and their restaurant.. They attract a diverse crowd at their popular place called K2—but that’s only the beginning. More than a mere meal, what really happens behind the driving beat, the flashing big screens, the delicious food and great conversation is a real Italian experience—Sicilian style!

While visiting the famous and beautiful coastal towns of Portofino, Rapallo and Santa Margherita, we discovered that the main attraction for us was the restaurant, K2 (Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli, Rocco and his brothers). Here the brothers Costanzo charm your socks off, and give you a first-class lesson in following dreams and values. Our first dinner was a magical evening that made the visit not only fun, but memorable—perhaps even life-changing. (more…)

A quarter cup a day keeps the doctor away! That’s the adage that our friend Giacomo‘s father lives by and he’s in his nineties.

A quarter cup of what, you ask? OLIVE OIL. Signor’ Martini actually drinks it—in addition to what he typically drizzles over every meal, every day of his life. In ancient Greece, Homer called it liquid gold because of the countless benefits: heart, skin, medicines, rituals and much more. You name it. And that doesn’t even count the spiritual boost that comes from harvesting the olives by hand. It’s truly a meditation. Somehow, the gift of longevity is linked to the magic and mystery of the albero olivo, olive tree as far back as double digit centuries. Evidence like that is hard to ignore or deny. (more…)

Quietly closing the door, he began his descent down the stone stairway located just behind the grand saloni, salons of his royal apartment recently reconstructed within the Palazzo Vecchio, Old Palace on Piazza della Signoria in the heart of medieval Florence. He made his way effortlessly through the hidden corridors leading to the small exterior door, opening onto the inconspicuous side street, Via della Ninna. Carefully glancing both ways to insure that he was alone, Duca Cosimo I de’ Medici made his departure from the Palace without anyone even suspecting. (more…)