Since 2004 people interested in Learn Italy have been sent a sporadic newsletter, with details of forthcoming study trips. This has been the chief means of publicising our activities. On the back of this single sheet of A4 there has often been a slightly rhapsodic piece of writing about something to do with Italy. What to call these bits of prose? Effusions, studies, blurb, lucubrations, sermons, essays, disquisitions, tracts, puffs, themes, compositions? People have said “you should do this as a blog”, so here are some of the more presentable ones.

Stray Information

Please find below various suggestions for other sites and bits and pieces that may be of interest to fellow Italianophiles.

Those people who have enjoyed seeing Rome through the eyes of expert guide Agnes Crawford may be interested to learn that she is offering talks on various aspects of her beloved city. For further information see her website at

The Frick Collection has a number of interesting videos on YouTube called either ‘Cocktails with a Curator’ or ‘Travels with a Curator’.

Suggested books about Florence:

A four-minute introduction to the paintings of Morandi:

While visiting the Pitti Palace in Florence sometimes I’ve managed to persuade an official to let me and a few others into that closed-off part of the gallery where the wonderful paintings by Giovanna Garzoni are kept. Now there’s an exhibition.

The sophisticated still lifes of Giovanna Garzoni

From some time ago, here is an article on the Sikhs who saved Parmesan.

Something of a Challenge

Starting with Pascal’s reflection that ‘the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he cannot stay quietly in his room’ Alain de Botton, writing in the Financial Times, argued as follows: ‘Another thing we can do in our own rooms is to return to travels we have already taken… Most of the time we are given powerful encouragement to engineer new kinds of travel experiences. The idea of making a big deal of revisiting a journey in memory sounds a little strange — or simply sad. This is an enormous pity. We are careless curators of our own pasts. We push the important scenes that have happened to us to the back of the cupboard of our minds and don’t expect to see them ever again. But what if we were to alter the hierarchy of prestige a little and argue that regular immersion in our travel memories could be a critical part of what can sustain and console us — and not least is perhaps the cheapest and most flexible form of entertainment. We would think of it as almost as prestigious to sit at home and reflect on a trip we once took to an island with our imaginations, as to trek to the island with our cumbersome bodies.’

Would you like to curate their own past and write up a travel experience that I could put on this website? I would be very interested to receive such material at There are several examples to be read under Travellers’ Tales on the main menu.