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]
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.
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 […]