Helichrysum. The licorice sprig.

By 05/08/2016 Masterful Trees

Helichrysum: gold and sunshine captured in a seedling.

Sea, sun, sand, wind. Shells and sea salt, surf and heat.  And then, your senses pick up a hint of licorice in the air around the dunes. You’ll think that a child is sucking on a bag of mouth-watering sweets or licking an ice cream or even chewing one of those sticks that turns your mouth black. Helichrysum, that’s where the smell comes from.elicriso valeria canavesi

Silver green tufts with dried yellow flowers: flowerheads that offer a thousand benefits. Golden yellow in spring, reddish brown in summer when the sun consumes them. A scent of curry and licorice, to crumble with dry hands and scent cupboards, bed sheets and linens at season’s change. You can find it in the fishing legends, in Sicily and Sardinia or in ancient remedies, that teach you how to make herbal teas that treat coughs and colds.

Use it to get a blaze going in the fireplace when your wood is wet or to make wreaths for the dead, or for magic potions to find a husband or have children. Hung in the kitchen it deodorizes the room for months on end; distil it and it’s a drink for after dinner – a bitter digestive, good for the body and able to loosen the tongues of tired shepherds. You can find it on cliffs and on beaches, in arid areas where the sun always beats. Bushes and clumps that are seen a thousand times but never noticed. But … if you sniff them, then yes, you’ll understand this flower and its purpose.

This little flower pulls no punches. Time has given it so many nicknames but there is only one true name: Helios as in the Sun and Chrysos as in Gold.

Name: Helycrisum italicum  – Family: Asteraceae – Trivia: Perpetuino, Sempiternu, Everlasting Flower: nicknames that testify to its remarkable persistance. 

 The mosaics of Magda. Puzzles of wonder.

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Salone di Milano, 2016. The show off of Italian heritage.

By 18/04/2016 Free-wheeling

The most authentic Made in Italy is one of the real protagonists at the Salone di Milano 2016.

Furniture icons, historical designers, an heritage rooted in time, talent and Italian territory: at the Salone di Milano 2016, all the companies and brands that have one, make a show off of their Italian contents. From Vico Magistretti to Gaetano Pesce, from Mario Bellini to Piero Bottoni, from Puglia to Veneto, from Livigno to Sorrento, you can make an authentic trip through the best Italian heritage. An heritage that, today more than ever, is able to speak the language of the present and to inspire renewed modernity.

Maybe it’s because real beauty does not know the passage of time. Maybe it’s because we all need more certainty and reassurance. Maybe, again, it’s because watching certain creations you can be surprised exactly like a century ago. Who knows. What is clear to us is that, among many smart or stupid provocations (triumphing especially in the events of the “Fuori Salone” program), at the end of the day we remember overall the evergreen protagonists of Italian design, decor and furniture.

valeria canavesi salone 4Zanotta, Cassina, Riva 1920. Meritalia, Lago, Natuzzi Italia. Poltrona Frau, Valsecchi 1918, Flou. Each stand is a journey in high craftsmanship, deep knowledge of materials, functional creativity, wisdom in hearts and hands. Values you can unveil at each step, with sincere pride and without a certain provincial submissiveness that Italians sometimes suffer when they tread international stages.

Who writes is aware that it would be too simplistic reducing Salone del Mobile 2016 in a show off of Italian values and knowledges. Yet it is precisely here, in a context that like few others allows to gather the whole world in one place, that the most authentic Italian heritage and history can be discovered, appreciated and loved.

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In Barolo. A photo-ebook, a journey, a true experience in Lower Langa.

By 17/02/2016 EBOOKS

Barolo: a place, a wine, an Italian identity lost among the hills ant the past. Read & unveil all the stories of this unique land, become Unesco Heritage since 2014.

Buy and download English version at:

– iBookstore USA: 6/ In Barolo – Valeria Canavesi

– iBookstore UK: 6 / In Barolo – Valeria Canavesi

– iBookstore Deutschland: 6 / In Barolo – Valeria Canavesi

– iBookstore France: 6 / In Barolo – Valeria Canavesi

Important: this ebook is also available in epub and Kindle version. See Amazon store in your country.

A castle, a village, the vineyards, a superstar wine: welcome in Barolo, a place that hides its identity like an oyster with the pearl. You can go there many times, walking through the houses and the hills all around, tasting the king of wines in renowned cellars, for years: maybe you will never know the truth.

Its piedmontese nature, kind and gentle but so much reserved, will not show you the ancient stories, legends, historical events and all the changes of people and landscape happened in the last century. In Barolo takes you between centuries and vineyards to discover them, remembering

a past that still has black nails of those who worked the land before the boom in wine and food Made in Italy industry.

Barolo and Lower Langa have seen battles between Ligurians, Celts and Romans; they have endured the oppression of feudal nobility; they cheered illuminated women; they have hidden Partisans and brigands. And they are forgetting their recent poverty, so well told by the writer Beppe Fenoglio, still mantaining their poetic dimension, suspended in time and space.

In Barolo is a journey in search of lost landscapes, forgot events and facts now dominated by the king of wines and its prevailing vineyards.

You will unveil castles and humlets of Lower Langa, hills and castles, knowing about killed  heretics, Roman votives and memories of illustrious statesmen. From Monforte to Diano d’Alba, from Grinzane to Castiglione Falletto, La Morra and Novello, the story takes you in a unique  territory of the most authenitc Italy.

In Barolo cover englishINCIPIT

Barolo. Always playing hide and seek.

Timid and fast like a boy, running among the vineyards. Now behind a ciabòt, hunting hares, cracking hazelnuts, smelling truffles. Singing the eggs before Easter, clapping Collisioni and rockstars in July.

Grape harvests and festivals at the end of summer; no-frontier degustations in autumn.

Barolo. Always playing hide and seek. Skillfully concealing its identity. French Marquise and reserved patriot; partisan

and peasant; gourmet and sommelier. Buried legend of hidden treasures, war tragedy in the middle of vine rows,

blurred memory of servants and taxpayers, jus primae noctis and stabbing revenges.

A forgotten cable car, a wood turned into vineyards, farms turned into cellars.

Barolo. Lots of stories and places. Playing and hiding them. Freeing them all, if you are patient.

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Sacro Monte of Orta. A mistic journey between nature, art and spirituality.

By 23/01/2016 Getting lost

Sacro Monte of Orta is a place of enchantment, dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. You can find it on the hill above the village of Orta San Giulio.

A Natural Reserve. A park of beeches, oaks and hollies. A “postcard view” of Lake Orta. We are at the Sacro Monte of Orta (literally: Sacred Mountain of Orta), where time stands still and where – once inside – it is natural to look up and immediately lower the voice.

The place has become Unesco World Heritage in 2003 and was designed by the architect Cleto da Castelletto Ticino as an ideal combination of nature and faith, dedicated to the pilgrims of every age and social class. Devotion to St. Francis is expressed in 21 chapels located in the park, which surrounds and protects them. You can walk and loose yourself through a picturesque path accompanied by trees, colors and scents of the forest.

Each chapel is dedicated to a moment in the life of the saint Patron of Italy, probably the most revered: his birth, his conversion and his story are told in every chapel through scenes of great effect, understandable to all the pilgrims of the time, even the most illitterate. Each phase of the life of St. Francis is carefully reconstructed with paintings and wooden life-size statues, sometimes in large quantities (as in the scene dedicated to the visit of the Pope: in this chapel there are dozens and dozens of different statues). The beginning of the work dates back to 1590, but construction and preparations continued for more than a century: this explains the difference in stylistic references between a chapel and the other, realized by various artists (and also local artisans).

Walking through the aprk and visiting the small temples is like make a journey also within ourselves: nature invites reflection, silence and contemplation. Among old trees and shady avenues, you can admire open-views on Cusio wonder: the island of San Giulio triumphs on the lake, but you can easily recognize the villages of the western side (Pella, Cesara) and the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso, that stands up on its eternal rock. No doubt about the value of the park in terms of landscape and nature: that’s why Sacro Monte of Orta became a Natural Reserve in 1980.

The invitation is to discover: just two hours from Milan, you enter a dimension of beauty and peace, taking a break and enjoying the place, another gem of the most beautiful Italy.

Information: www.sacromonte-orta.com

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Birch. The white lady of woods.

By 03/12/2015 Masterful Trees

The birch is a tree of light: elegant, mysterious, a true lady of the forest.

The birch is a fascinating tree, which has always attracted the attention of us. Its white bark is the special sign we learn when we are children (and we never forget). The birch is a true lady of the forest, thanks to its elegant bearing and its graceful forms: never too high, nor too intrusive. It doesn’t love living alone, and you can easily find it in the the beech or oak forests, and also through the larches and the spruces.

betulla valeria canavesiThe birch is the tree of the North and it accompanies landscapes from the Arctic Circle to the Italian Apennines. We find it in the illustrations of Russian fairy tales, alongside isbas or tundras with wolves; for the ancient Siberian shamans it was the cosmic tree, the tree of life. It appears among the plants of San Giovanni and the summer solstice, because the crowns of its branches exposed outside the doors protect stables and properties from evil spirits.

It prefers staying cool, and  it knows how to play its heart-shaed leaves in the wind. The birch is light and sinuous, but also incredibly resistant: it can endure low temperatures, even below 20° C. The appearance does not deceive you: its wood vibrates and beats like a spoke of the shepherds and it’s used to make strong crosspiece in sledges; its roots are sturdy, able to contain the steep terrain of cliffs and slopes. The birch has also draining and diuretic properties: its leaves, its buds and its bark have been used for years for depurative teas (these rare effects made the tree famous in the past centuries: it was called the “Plant of the kidneys of Europe”).

Mauro Corona defines it “the queen of the woods” and Mario Rigoni Stern, in his Arboreto Selvatico, writed: “I did not understand the beauty of the birches when I played near them, in the spring, when the snow melted, looking up to their celestial branches. And the use of our ancient, that in May showed their love to the girls of the village with birch branches just bloomed, placed in front of the doors of their homes, has been lost with the Mediterranean civilization.”

The birch comes in various species: there is Betula pubescens, pendula and verrucosa; you can find the alba one and the nigra one as well. On the slopes of the Etna Volcano in Sicily there is Betula aetnensis: an endemic, smaller species. In Italy it grows mainly in the Alps and the Apennines: the most majestic birches stand in the skies of Merano, close to the river, and in Burano Island, near the landing stage. Monumental birches are also at Mount Ferro (in the province of La Spezia) and at the Pian delle Betulle, in Alta Valsassina (province of Lecco). At Caldara of Manziana, in the Natural Park of Bracciano, there is a post-glacial relict of these trees, unusually present at these latitudes. Unfortunately, like many beautiful things, the birch does not live much: the average of its life is about 60 years. birch 2 valeria canavesi

Name: various, depending on the species

Family: Betulaceae

Curiosity: from its sweet sap you get, after a special fermentation, a drink called Beer of Birch

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