Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to create super sports cars to compete with Ferrari, which already had a 16 year head-startan almost impossible challenge. He was 47 years old at the time, and already a famous Italian entrepreneur. People thought he was crazy to risk his fortune to build specialty cars that were clearly an unjustifiable extravagance. But the strong-willed businessman was already a proven success. He reasoned that if he could amass a fortune making tractors, why not sports cars? In November of 1963, he unveiled his first masterpiece—the 350GT. The rest is automotive history. (more…)

We turned around and saw one for the first time. It was outside the coffee bar, just across the narrow street in Fiesole. On the sportello (little door) that covers the gas meter was a painting of a street scene—specifically, the very house that belonged with the painted door! It was signed FL and dated 2013. We smiled at our discovery and asked Riccardo, the owner of the bar, what that colorful picture was all about. He told us about an artist in town who likes to paint pictures on those little utility doors. Interesting! (more…)

So here’s the situation: In our Italian neck of the woods, there is a law that permits only a certain number of windows per room. Yes, that’s right. Apparently, the practice started years ago when farmers didn’t want so many windows due to their inefficiency—you know, drafty winters, vulnerability, etc. So, over the centuries, they just made the practice into an architectural common law of sorts. Why not? You can do that kind of thing here  . . . it’s Italy! (more…)

Imagine a hiking trail 100 miles long with no particular destination. Sound strange? What if you could actually see the focus of your wanderings, yet never arrive there? What if the trail encircled the most magnificent symbol of the Italian Renaissance—the Duomo, Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore—the main cathedral in the heart of Florence? Now, this is really getting interesting. Well, there is such a trail—where the real destination is a deepening of the magic and mystery of that special place known as Firenze—the heart of Tuscany—an experience like no other! (more…)

Over 2,000 years ago, the comic playwright of ancient Athens, Aristophanes said: “Let each man exercise the art he knows!” We think he had it right.

Yesterday, we were having lunch in Fiesole. It was balmy in the shade of the street-side cafe. We were fascinated, watching the installation of a new sculpture, a colorful contraption, on Piazza Mino. Made of hundreds of small brightly enameled pieces, all fastened together into a collage; much like one of those erector set creations of 50 years ago—wheels, gears, nuts and bolts, angles and edges. The sun really made this one pop! It was playful and riveting. We liked it. (more…)

“If you get pure beauty, you get about the best thing God has to give.”

The quote is attributed to an anonymous artist long ago, cited by the British writer, Charles Latham in his 1905 book, The Gardens of Italy. The sentiment sums up the intention of the Italian villa—pure beauty! And Villa Gamberaia, set in the peaceful hills overlooking Florence is certainly no exception. This incredible garden in the Tuscan landscape has been studied and celebrated by architectural historians and garden designers throughout the centuries. In fact, the painter may have been standing in Gamberaia’s garden when he first spoke those words that captured Latham’s imagination. (more…)

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…)

This story is about creativity, cooperation, openness and risk-taking.

The door was open, so I looked inside.

Romain greeted me with a broad, friendly smile. I asked, “Do you speak English?” Out came a resounding “YES!” And so our happenstance encounter evolved into a conversation and tour. (more…)

Illusion is a distortion of the senses.

The brain picks up visual cues that are recognizable, instantly fitting them into familiar patterns. In a flash, it issues a report about what’s going on. The brain fills in the blanks. Normally, we “believe” what we see. However, sometimes we’re reminded that our brain isn’t infallable and that our perceptions aren’t necessarily reality. In fact, we can have an “ah-ha!” moment when we realize that what we see is an illusion. (more…)