Last year, I won a writing competition where the prize was a week-long stay at Villa Cigano, in the heart of the Chianti region. I can’t think of a lovelier place to spend a week in the summer. Perched high up above the small town of Vagliagli, the villa looked out over the rolling Tuscan hillside. The crest of the ridges fell away from us, until at dusk, the faraway hills merged into the inky blue sky….
A recent Guardian article bemoaned the spate of Italian chains littering the high street. It described the “British ‘Italian’ as a bastardised standard bearer for affordable, democratic dining”. According to the author, the uneducated masses are mistakenly gorging themselves on pasta and Peroni – failing to acknowledge the real Italian delights of ‘nduja and guanciale.…
Recently we’ve seen scandals tear through politics, the police and press. We’ve been rioted, we’ve been looted, we’ve been screwed by hikes and strikes. And bankers. We’re living off less but everything costs more. There’s an apocalyptic mood lingering over the city, and it won’t go away….
For somebody who did an Oxford history degree, I’m really not very good at it. I have next to no memory retention, and not the biggest attention span. Dreadful, I know. Years of my Grandad quizzing me with basic history questions to try and find ‘my period of expertise’ has left me feeling quite defeatist about it all, and resigned to the fact that maybe I don’t have ‘a historical period’….