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]
May 20, 2020

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia

From April 21 to 24, 1969, Sotheby’s of London held its first auction in Italy. At the request of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, it sold important Italian and French furniture, works of art, silver and other objects that belonged to the royal from one of his homes, the Villa Demidoff at Pratolino. Of all the […]
March 2, 2020

Gioachino Rossini, a gourmet and connoisseur

In 1829, at the peak of his superstar fame as the composer of more than 40 operas including L’Italiana in Algeri, La Cenerentola, La gazza ladra, La donna del lago, Il barbiere di Siviglia, his masterpiece, and his last opera, Guillaume Tell, the genial and exuberant Gioachino Rossini suddenly stopped writing music for the theatre. […]
February 25, 2020

Edgar Degas and his Italian family

One of the earliest masterpieces by the 19th-century French impressionist artist and collector Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, who later adopted the simplified version of his name, Edgar Degas (1834–1917), hangs in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Titled The Bellelli Family, it depicts Degas’ relatives in the sitting room of their rented apartment in Florence’s piazza Barbano […]
January 22, 2020

Consonno: Italy’s long-lost Las Vegas

The road to arrive there is now only open at specific times, mainly to allow mourners to visit their dead at the local cemetery, while the remnants of the settlement are considered by some to be an environmental hazard. Consonno is a ghost town nestled in the northern part of Italy known as the Brianza, […]
December 18, 2019

The Yule log

In the days running up to Christmas, many patisseries and bakeries around Florence display a Yule log or, as the French call it, bûche de Noël, in their windows. This delicious cake is usually a sponge baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll tin and, when cooked, rolled into a cylinder shape with a layer […]
November 12, 2019

Sant’Ambrogio Market

After ten troubled years, the magnificent—although at the time controversial—cast iron and glass construction of the Vittorio Emanuele II gallery, which linked the city’s cathedral to the Scala theatre in Milan, was finally finished on the penultimate day of December 1877. It was to be inaugurated the next day, but the man who designed it, […]
October 23, 2019

Suso Cecchi d’Amico

Protests about the gender equality gap in the film industry continued to rumble on as the lights of the 76th annual Venice International Film Festival went out at the end of the first week of September 2019. The action is fuelled by increasing pressure from the #metoo movement and Hollywood’s Time’s Up campaign against sexual […]
September 18, 2019

Florence Tennis Club

Originally the largest park in Florence, the Cascine was a Medici hunting and farming estate, which passed to the grand duchy of Lorraine with the death of the last Medici in 1737. Although it had occasionally been open to the public for special events during the 18th century, it only became an actual public park […]
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.