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]
February 17, 2021

The Buffalo Soldiers

Bob Marley wrote “Buffalo Soldier” with Noel “King Sporty” Williams, but the song was released by Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1983, two years after the singer-songwriter’s death. It became one of Marley’s most popular songs with its catchy refrain:   I’m just a Buffalo Soldier In the heart of America Stolen from Africa, […]
January 28, 2021

Famous Expats: Felix Le Monnier

The court case lasted almost 20 years and created a sensation at the time because it involved one of Italy’s most beloved authors and a prestigious French publisher, who had made his home and established his reputation in Florence. Between 1840 and 1845, the publisher Felix (often called “Felice” in Italian) Le Monnier republished thousands […]
December 24, 2020

The Christmas wreath

Every year, the first thing I do when preparing for the festive season is to hang a circular Christmas wreath on my front door. I used to make my own of laurels, leaves and holly, but now I simply unpack the beautiful wreath I bought at the Christmas market in piazza Santa Croce from its […]
November 5, 2020

Italian Sketches: Rose Montmasson

When in via della Scala, take a moment to pause outside number 50 and look at the plaque on the wall. It translates into English: In this palace which was built in Florence the Capital lived Francesco Crispi with his wife Rose Montmasson who landed with the Thousand in Marsala and was the altruistic nurse […]
October 27, 2020

Barsene “Baldissera” Conti

On May 15, 1896, a small, slender woman with a baby in her arms lay down across the tram track in Brozzi, a town on the outskirts of Florence. Her name was Barsene Conti, soon to be better known as “Baldissera” after General Antonio Baldissera, governor of Eritrea. For the month between May and June, […]
October 6, 2020

Historic quarantine in Livorno

When William Magee Seton left New York on board the  sailing ship “Sheperdess” on October 2, 1803, he could not have imagined he would never return to his homeland. Born into a wealthy and socially prominent family, he and his wife Elizabeth Baley, known as Eliza, whom he had married in 1794  seemed to have […]
July 6, 2020

Balena Baths in Viareggio

Locals have called it “la Passeggiata”, or the promenade, since 1902 when it was inaugurated in Viareggio, the seaside town called the “pearl of Versilia” in the province of Lucca. This three-kilometre-long esplanade offers visitors a unique architectural display of decorative Art Nouveau as well as more symmetrical Art Deco villas, historic cafes, bathing establishments, […]
June 17, 2020

The Tuscan tre lire stamp

Looking for ways to pass the time before the gradual ending of the lockdown, I pulled down from the shelf one of the volumes of my old stamp collection, which I had begun as a child. Suddenly, I was watching history unfold before me on the pages: kings and queens who had died, countries that […]
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. […]