Giulia Lorimer has French and Spanish ancestry, an American mother, a Swiss passport and a childhood spent in Bulgaria. She caught the last Orient Express out of Sofia and later went to the U.S., where she married an American journalist. They came to Italy over 50 years ago and raised their 11 children in a farmhouse in the hills of Florence. For years, the Poggio all’Arrigo house was a meeting place for musicians, poets and artists from all over the world who had come to Italy to find inspiration.
It was during that time that Giulia discovered her passion for Irish music, which led to the founding of the internationally renowned Irish folk music group, Whisky Trail. The group has produced 10 successful albums and has performed all over Italy and Europe. Giulia sat down with The Florentine to talk about how hospitality and creativity joined forces to create an Irish folk band in Tuscany.
After having lived all over the world as a child, how did you end up in Florence?
In 1955 my husband was a journalist and had just finished his degree from Georgetown University and taken the Foreign Service exam. He was going to Rome to study political science, and I was going to join him with our two children after he had gotten settled. When he got to La Sapienza, he went to sign up for classes and they shut the window in his face because it was lunchtime or some such thing. He got annoyed and left—he was a very impulsive man. He came up to Florence where he heard they were looking for writers for a left-wing newspaper. I got a telegram that said: ‘No more Rome, but Florence. Get ready.’
We had a rather large farmhouse up in the hills above Florence, and my husband began working in the fields, tending to the land and all it required. At that point we had four children and, being Catholic, we began to feel quite guilty about how big the house and the surroundings were. So we went to talk to a priest and he said, ‘If you feel guilty, then open your house to others’. So we did.