Sicilian Obsession ~ Ortygia

Sicily may just be my favorite place in the world.

streets of Ortygia

I had no idea that I would love it so much. From the incredible ruins and historical sites, to the fabulous beaches, from the incredible views to the completely outstanding local cuisine, from the spectacular local wines to the ever smiling, friendly people, Sicily has it all.

One of the (many) places I loved visiting was Ortygia, the island part of the ancient city of Siracusa.

on the street in Ortygia

Ortygia is tiny – only 1km x500m, and the best way to see it is on foot. You can’t get lost walking through the narrow streets and alleyways, as walking far enough in any direction leads you back to the sea.

Every which way you turn you are enveloped in 2500+ years of history.

From Apollo’s temple built in the 7th century BC

Apollo’s Temple, Ortygia Sicily

to the Duomo, who’s bottom most excavations have unearthed remnants from the ancient Siculi, followed by the Greeks in the 5th century BC, then the Christians added to it in the 7th century AD and finally its baroque facade which was erected in the 18th century,

columns in the Ortygia Duomo, dating back to 500 BC

to  the castle fortress built by Frederick II in 1194, Ortygia is an historical gem. Every building, every alley is fascinating.

acordian player in Piazza Del Duomo, Ortygia Sicily

The heart of Ortygia is no doubt the beautiful, baroque Piazza del Duomo, the perfect spot to stop for lunch.

piazza del duomo, Ortygia Sicily

Glaringly bright white, offset by the incredibly blue sky, this is Sicily as I had always imagined it.

Piazza Del Duomo, Ortygia Sicily

salad for lunch in Ortygia

Before leaving the island, a quick stop at the morning market is a must. Fresh fruits and vegetables and fish – everything you need to make a delicious dinner with a local flair.

Ortygia Fish Market

Ortygia market, image Lonelyplanet

 Private yachts moored off the island

boat in Ortygia
locals mix with tourists

Sunbathers lie out on the rocks

sunbathing in Ortygia

I can’t wait to go back….

What To Wear To The Market In Arezzo

Are you going to the market in the Italian town of Arezzo? Or any other lovely little town in Italy?

Here is one of my favorite posts from a couple of years ago. I’m planning my wardrobe for this year’s summer in Italy, and my old blog posts have been a fun place to start!


What’s A Girl To Wear To The Market In Arezzo?

Every Saturday and Sunday in the Tuscan town of Arezzo the streets and piazzas become one of the most intriguing markets you will ever have the good fortune to visit.


 (I so wanted the Red Lady lamp, but couldn’t figure out how on earth to get her home??)

Largely about furniture and housewears, exquisite laces and linens, the Arezzo market is not to be missed if you’re in Tuscany on a weekend. If for nothing else, you’ll see treasures long hidden in the attics of the giant old Tuscan homes. Just touching some of the pieces you’ll feel the history of generations flow through your fingers.

Its magic.

Its also Italy. This means a girl can’t show up dressed as if for the Camden or Portobello markets in London, or the Rose Bowl market in Pasadena. There’s a whole different dress code here, and its nothing short of fabulous.

Armed with my camera, I stalked the fashionistas meandering through the stalls, just to show you how killer
cool and glam they really are. Fashion statements aren’t necessarily about the current trends, but more of how a girl carries herself and presents herself to the world, with her own personal flair and elan.

Before we see the outfits, its important to check out the terrain.

Its all uphill and downhill, on flagstones, cobbles and pavers, uneven, textured, and at  times steep.


No flat, smooth asphalt for these divas to strut their sensational stuff…

So what does the fab-u-taliana wear?

 Soft gray ostrich cowboy boots, dove gray half leg leggings, white and gray layered tanks and T’s, trench length demin coat, Louis bag, great hair, and “the world is mine” attitude.


Do you love it??? Check out her cool shoes! Prada bag, stylish parka, pedicure.



super chic family! Even the bambini are decked out!


This lady had it going on! I loved her red jacket. The gloves were the perfect finishing touch. Notice the hairdo – nicely cut and colored. These Italiana’s don’t miss a single gorgeous detail. Slim, belted, co-ordinated.


 another peep at the family


 I just loved this lady! We saw her everywhere, all morning. Looking like a million dollars, working those shoes!! She still looked like perfection at the of market end too, not just first thing in the morning.


 Prada-rama. I loved her coat too. She had magnificent glasses on as well, but I couldn’t get a clean shot without blowing my tourista cover. God knows I tried…


 Channeling Marcello Mastroianni.

Even the dudes looked cool.


 What would you do with that fish thing?

I loved the cabinet behind it.

 Prada Prada Prada.

Endless Prada. Fabulous for Sunday morning.

 Stylin mama. Isn’t she just chic?? Looks like a northerner…



Burberry! A break in the Prada/Louis action – quite refreshing. Check out how totally put together this couple is. Age provides no barrier, gives no demarcation. They’re all just damn fab.



 Skinny jeans worn with heels, a trench, fab hair, and accessorized with a cyclist. Think he’s wearing a cod piece?

 I love those nude heels!! Check out the height and cut of them! She’s damn fabulous, and she knows it. Its part of the air she breathes. Although I do consider myself to be an Olympic high heeler, even I couldn’t cut it around the market all morning, up and down the hills in these.

No way.

And these are her Sunday morning market shoes?? I need a new goal…


Sexy girl heels. Are you seeing how high they are??? Remember the terrain (see above) And sexy Italiana that she is, she saunters and glides with ease, as if she were wearing flats. Can’t you feel her gait through this picture?Its as if she were born wearing them. I just loved her!

 I just had to get you a close up on the height. She is my hero(ine) The pants were very cool too.


 She eats! Italian girls don’t do the lettuce leaf, black coffee and manic hours of aerobics with a 5 mile run routine. They eat. Heartily. And are so present in their lives, and in the pleasure of life.

They are sensational.

 And what did we wear?

Pictured here in the piazza with the lovely Michelle, jewelry designer at Divinity Jewelry, in jeans and boots, a turquoise trench and a beige pashmina, and the ever present aviators 🙂

Ciao ciao tutti!!

Where To Stay Under The Tuscan Sun

Thinking about spending some time under the Tuscan sun??

Podere Cunina standing watch over the Val D’Orcia

Every year I like to spend a few weeks in Italy.
Actually I would like to spend endless months there, but have to settle for weeks instead.
Tuscany has become my home away from home.

People always ask me where to stay in Tuscany, especially if they are not seeking out an overly homogenized hotel experience.
Personally I love to rent an apartment, rent a car and drive around Tuscany, finding endless spectacular towns and villages that aren’t in the guide books.

Podere Cunina, Buonconvento, Tuscany

I like to be super close to Florence, and not too far from Rome. In a country with such a fantastic rail system, I like to be close enough to a train station that it’s easy to make a last minute day trip to Venice, or maybe Pompei – wherever feels like fun that day.

one of the patios at Podere Cunina, Buonconvento, Tuscany

I like to chill out in the piazza, drink cappuccinos and watch the world go by. Shop at local markets for fresh produce,all grown inside a 10 mile radius and picked to be sold today, with flavor that just explodes in your mouth. (Unlike the flavorless factory farmed produce here in the US)
There’s nothing quite like having a local vendor choose items for you, and tell you how to prepare them the way generations of their families have been doing for centuries, and then going home to your gorgeous Tuscan apartment, throwing it together and enjoying it, truly enjoying it with a local Sangiovese, or maybe a Brunello, living the luxe life.

I love filling my Italian apartment with freshly picked wildflowers and sprigs of fresh rosemary, the combined olfactory delight of which tells my brain I’m really, truly here.

My dear friend Silvana is living the life I dream of.
Together with her husband Piergiorgio she bought an old, run down farmhouse on a little hill overlooking the spectacular Val D’Orcia. They rebuilt, refurbished and restored it using traditional materials, creating a home that at the same time is visually mesmerizing, maintains historical truth but is equipped with all the modern conveniences. Its called Podere Cunina.

Beautiful Podere Cunina in Buonconvento Tuscany

The stonework, the iron work, the colors are achingly beautiful.

Part of the restoration project involved creating 7 apartments to rent to vacationers.

One of the apartments at Podere Cunina, Tuscany

Apartment at Podere Cunina, Tuscany

Apartment at Podere Cunina, outside Buonconvento Tuscany

Apartment at Podere Cunina

 There are 2 two bedroom apartments and 5 one bedroom apartments, each of which is just gorgeous.

Apartment at Podere Cunina, Tuscany

Podere Cunina is located 3 kms outside of Buonconvento, near Siena. An easy drive from either Rome or Florence it places you in the ideal location from which to drive around Tuscany and really experience the majesty of this amazing part of the world.

After a long day of enjoying yourself it is just lovely to sit out on the patio area and have a prosecco as you watch the sun set over neighboring Montalcino (one of my favorite villages in all of Italy).

The pool at Podere Cunina, near Buonconvento, Tuscany

 Wine lovers adore the region, as it is home to the Brunello, one of my all time favorite reds.

Prosecco time at Podere Cunina as the Tuscan Sun sets

Silvana is the ultimate host. She always has loads of ideas of great places to go see and experience. She always tells me about fabulous villages that the tour buses (thankfully) don’t know about, is endlessly knowledgeable about where the best local markets are and when, which restaurants and cafe’s you mustn’t miss, and has the most wonderful stories about this spectacular slice of the world.

Lovers of Frances Mayes’ Under The Tuscan Sun, and her subsequent tomes about her life in Tuscany will love driving to Cortona, which is not too far away, and spending the day walking through every moment in her delicious Tuscan world. (I think at this point I probably know her books by heart)

3 million years ago the Val D’Orcia was under the ocean, which is no doubt why the hills have the most beautiful undulating roll to them. A couple of years ago some guests were walking through the fields on the beautiful Podere Cunina property and picked up a perfectly formed shark’s tooth, that scientists later dated as being 3 million years old.
You just never know what you’re going to find in this wonderful place!

Summer is not the only time to enjoy Tuscany. Spring and autumn are beautiful, and this year if everything goes as planned we are hoping to touch down in Tuscany over the winter too.

If staying on a glamorous little farm is a bit to rural for you, Silvana also rents out an apartment in beautiful San Gimignano, which is my Italian home, and which I can never go a single day without thinking about.

If you would like to know more about Podere Cunina or about vacation rental in Tuscany, click this link:
 Agriturismo Podere Cunina