I was delighted to have an article published in the January 2021 issue of 'The Florentine'. This is the most widely read English-language magazine in Florence. I am also thrilled that the story of Annalena Malatesta will be included in the editorial focus on historical women of the city.
One of my favourite places to stay in Tuscany (with the exception of our little home near Bagni di Lucca) just has to be the beautiful Pensione Bencista up in the hills above Florence in Fiesole. It is a truly delightful place with the most magnificent views over Florence. We have been privileged to have been able to stay there several times over the years and I wax lyrical about the beauty of this place in my new book.
Although my book is a non-fictional historical biography I was able to step into the past whilst keeping one foot firmly rooted in the present, since it also tells the story of my personal journey to discover more about the life of the Italian Renaissance noblewoman Annalena Malatesta. In addition to discovering more about the fascinating life of this remarkable woman I wanted the reader to be able to feel as though they were in Florence and that they could visualise the beautiful churches, historical monuments and museums. It was my wish that they should experience all the wonderful art treasures with me.
I was delighted to receive feedback from readers of my book who congratulated me on transporting them back to Tuscany. One gentleman thanked me for bringing back so many memories of his visits to Tuscany and in particular his stay at the Pensione Bencista. ‘From your description I could just picture the view from there and it brought back so many fond memories of when my late wife and I stayed there’. Others commented that it was truly wonderful to read about paintings that they had remembered seeing and it was as though they were standing before them once more.
Whilst I might not be able to be in Florence at this time, at least my book can be. Thank you to Andrea, the manager of the historic Hotel Annalena in Via Romana, who enjoyed reading my book and kindly took these photos of it in the reception. My book feels truly at home in this place; after all it was here that I was first inspired to write it. The hotel stands upon part of the the site that was once occupied by the convent that Annalena Malatesta founded in the fifteenth century. I can't wait until I can return to Florence, but until then I rest content knowing that my book is in its rightful place. I am certain too that Annalena would also be very happy.