Has anything you’ve read recently made you start planning your next holiday? From Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist to the fascinating history of Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered by Dianne Hales, we suggest some recent books that will give you some great ideas for your next trip.
You know her elusive smile but what about her story? This book unveils Lisa Gherardini, the Florentine housewife who became the world’s most legendary artistic subject. It’s a fascinating portrait of a Renaissance everywoman swept up in the social scandals and political dramas of Florence’s most turbulent times.
Fancy following in her footsteps through Florence? Stop in Via Sguazza, the seedy street where she was born, and at the beautiful Baptistery where she was christened: Michelangelo dubbed its doors the “Gates of Paradise”. You can also tour Leonardo da Vinci’s birthplace in nearby Anchiano and soak up the gorgeous landscape of sundrenched vines and olive groves.
Under Magnolia is a poetic and and atmospheric memoir that oozes the hot, lush Deep South: you can almost taste the squishy pot of beans disintegrating in salt pork. Is that the sweet smell of honeysuckle? And how about the overripe peaches wafting through the balmy night air?
Follow in Mayes’ footsteps and take a leisurely saunter along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. You can also tour the Heard County Historical Center and Museum housed in the Old Jail for a fascinating glimpse into the heritage of this rural community.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
It’s 1686 and Petronella Oortman has just moved into her new husband’s elegant townhouse in Amsterdam’s most affluent district. Her husband gives her a cabinet-sized replica of their home as a wedding present and she commissions a mysterious miniaturist to furnish it. How can the miniaturist’s little creations reflect the household so familiarly? And what secrets do the eerily closed doors conceal?
You can check out the real cabinet house that inspired the novel at the city’s Rijksmuseum. The materials used and precise proportions are impressive. It’s only a couple of minutes walk to the excellent Van Gogh Museum where you can absorb masterpieces such as Almond Blossom and The Bedroom.
Feel the heat with the latest recipes from the founder of the Mexican street food cantina, Wahaca. They follow her delicious travels through Oaxaca, Mexico’s culinary capital, and around the rest of the world. Can you honestly resist the chilli-chocolate brownies as an indulgent late-night treat or the rose-scented slow roast lamb for the perfect Sunday lunch?
If you like it hot, you’ll love Oaxaca’s famous mole sauces and giant balls of quesillo cheese ribbons. They are delicious whether you get them from a simple stand in the Central de Abastos market or a lively café. You can always pick up some tips for your own kitchen adventures at the nearby La Casa de los Sabores Cooking School.