In Assisi I was to receive a soulful gift, a joyful gift and a life lesson. But not in the way you might expect. For these events did not occur in one of the many churches there, nor in the famous Papal Basilica di San Francesco – one of the most impressive, expensive and art-abundant … Continue reading


As gorgeous as it is, Cremona will always be more about people than places to me. Characters from the past and the present. This city is famous for its violinmakers, and one more than any other – Antonio Stradivari, who was born somewhere around 1645 and died aged about 90 in 1737. No one is … Continue reading


I  head south-west through Poitou-Charentes, the Cognac, region and decide to make a convenient stop-over at Saint-Hilaire-de-Villefranche.   On the way I call in at Saint-Jean-d’Angély because the name sounds so pretty. I park near some splendid civic buildings then enter the old town and stop by the ‘office de tourisme’ for some information. The lady … Continue reading

The Chateau de Bazoches and its hero on the hill

Before leaving Bazoches I visit the chateau overlooking the farm, thinking that this will be a cultural visit seeing fine old furniture and armoury, little knowing it will be rather different. In fact I am to make the acquaintance of another inspirational historical character, and see again how some lives are led to the absolute … Continue reading