Author Archives

Lockhart

Italia

For what it’s worth, our rules for eating out in Italy (unless you’re desperate, of course): 1. Avoid any restaurant large enough to accommodate a busload of gawkers. Especially one with bright lights, huge, curtained windows, and elaborate chandeliers. Gaudy is good—just not that kind of gaudy. 2. […]

Truffles

No vegetable is invested with more hype and idiosyncrasy in its cultivation and consumption than the hideously ugly, yet über-expensive European truffle. French blacks (Tuber melanosporum) and Italian whites (Tuber magnatum) regularly fetch more than $1,000 per pound at market and are then doled out, one hyper-thin slice […]

Tain-l’Hermitage

Thomas Jefferson might have had better weather in the 1780s when he came to the Hermitage Mountain here and declared this vista of the Rhône River valley the most beautiful in all of France. The trip from the Colonial Ambassador’s residence in Paris—564km by modern roads—would have taken […]

Vittel

The European Spa Movement was synonymous with la Belle Époque, the 40-year dream period from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 until 1914 and the carnage of the Great War.  European aristocrats and politicians held their collective breath and noses and tried their hardest not to notice the churn […]

Nancy

On 10 May, 1951, in a true exercise in dynastic futility, Archduke Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xaver Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius von Habsburg-Lotharingen married Regina Helene Elisabeth Margarete, Princess of Saxe-Meiningen. The ceremony took place here in Nancy, France, at […]

Roma

A detail from the Roman victory column, Columna Centenaria Divorum Marci et Faustinae, shows how bloody and gruesome most Roman victories were. This particular structure, from AD 193, honors the old sage and Emperor Marco Aurelio (bearded and dispensing wisdom at top left) for his assiduous repression of […]

Tirol

No one was ever given a nastier clutch of nicknames than Margaret, the last Countess of Tyrol: Maultasch, Mouth Bag, Whore, Vicious Woman, Medusa, Mouth-Poke, Pocket-Mouth, Satchel-Mouth, Big Mouth, Pouch Mouth, the She-Wolf of the Tyrol, the Ugly Duchess, and Kriemhild (after the wife of Attila the Hun). […]