Author: Deirdre Pirro

Deirdre Pirro, author of "Italian Sketches: The Faces of Modern Italy", published by The Florentine Press, is an international lawyer who lives and works in Florence. Her writing focuses on modern Italy, its people, its history and its customs. Follow her on Twitter @dp_in_florence or contact her at [email protected]
July 19, 2019

The short-lived Kingdom of Etruria

To secure Spain as an ally against the English, Napoleon, then first consul of France, was engaged in complicated horse trading with his neighbouring country. As part of the deal, in October 1800, Spain signed a “secret” agreement, the Treaty of San Ildefonso, with Napoleon returning the Louisiana Territory to France in exchange for six […]
June 11, 2019

The Fontana sisters

The Fontana sisters, Zoe, Micol and Giovanna, were pivotal in establishing the “Made in Italy” fashion brand internationally.
May 3, 2019

The Kansas City Leonardo da Vinci

Today, the painting of the La Belle Ferronnière attributed to Leonardo da Vinci hangs in the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
April 12, 2019

L’Italienne: Catherine de’ Medici

On January 5, 1589, when Catherine, the great Medici-born queen and regent of France, died of pleurisy at 69 years of age in Blois, just eight months before her son, Henry III, was assassinated, she was no longer the slim young maiden who had left her Florentine home to marry into Valois royalty. Although she […]
March 6, 2019

Italian sketch: Francesco Cirio

Summer, spring, winter and fall: there is no better dish than a piping hot plate of spaghetti with pummarola, the rich Italian sauce made from tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil. But how do you make the sauce if you have no fresh tomatoes? You open a tin of tomatoes, of course. But sometimes we […]
February 6, 2019

Mahatma Gandhi’s Italian visit

Over the centuries, history has never been miserly about thrusting odd couples together onto the world stage. Yet, in pre-World War II Italy, one of the strangest pairings was when the ascetic, Indian independence, non-violent civil disobedience leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi met the militaristic, Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in Rome in December 1931. Gandhi […]
January 15, 2019

The marriage of Catherine de’ Medici

The turbulent times of the 16th century were dominated by the conflict between Francis I, King of France, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, the spread of the Protestant Reformation, the divorce of Henry VIII from Catherine of Aragon in England and the menace of Turkish invasion. When Giulio de’ Medici, the illegitimate son […]
November 29, 2018

Torrone: an Italian holiday tradition

At the Christmas Day table, there may be some argument between panettone diehards and pandoro instigators about which cake is better, but few dispute that the gooey white, sticky nougat-type confectionary made of sugar, egg  albumen and almonds is delicious. All over Italy, this candy, known as torrone, appears at the end of the traditional […]
October 31, 2018

Isabella Blagden

If you were a part of the English speaking expat community in Florence in the latter half of the 1800s and needed a chaperone or a place to stay or were ill or simply wanted a shoulder to cry on, more than likely you called Isabella Blagden for help.
October 16, 2018

Baron Charles Alexander de Cosson

In 1901, when Baron Charles Alexander de Cosson and his family arrived in Florence, he had planned to stay for only two months. Instead, he would remain there for the rest of his life, until his death 28 years later. For this inveterate traveller, it was most likely not his first visit to the city, […]