24-Hour Room Service: Castello del Nero, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa

The old adage that it takes money to make money certainly rings true at the Castello del Nero. It's clear for all to see that no expense has been spared in renovating this 12th-century castle turned luxury hotel.

Hills of Tuscany: Vines and views

Mary Novakovich is given a warm welcome as she takes a ramble through the Tuscan hills

Pandora: Mick's new social circle

Despite the chatter, don't bet your house (even if it is one you have bought outright with a parliamentary second home allowance) on Michael Martin, the hitlisted House of Commons Speaker, resigning before this year's summer recess.

Leading article: Home movies

A report that buyers of second homes abroad are guided in their purchases by blockbuster films or television series will bring contemptuous smiles to the faces of those who count themselves immune to such propaganda.

Here's to you, old bean: Skye Gyngell's Tuscan feast

To celebrate a visit from an acclaimed Tuscan food writer, Skye Gyngell created a simple, robust feast to make her guests feel right at home

Italy: From top to toe, it's a bumper year in the Boot

Celebrate Palladio and Puccini's birthdays, or learn football from a World Cup star. Sarah Barrell reveals what's new in Italy

Villa: Val d'Orcia, Tuscany

Anyone can book a hotel online these days, but demand is growing for expert advisers who know exactly where to get the best plate of pasta con le sarde in Palermo or where to go for a blow-the-budget fishing trip in Russia's Kamchatka peninsula. Bespoke specialists can open doors that would otherwise remain firmly shut.

Different class of protester fights for 'Chiantishire'

Were it not for the placards, anyone strolling past the National Gallery might have thought the gathering was a novel extension to the debutante season.

Renaissance Siena : Art For A City, National Gallery, London

By Michael Glover

Flower power: A trip to Italy provides Anna Pavord with a riot of inspiration. But how to translate the glory of Tuscany to a British setting?

I have a new mission. It is to walk every footpath shown on the superb maps produced by the Club Alpino Italiano. We made a small start this month using just one of the maps, grandly headed "Itinerary of Montagnola Senese and the Lecceto Wood". We were staying in a farmhouse at Cetinale and this map alone, covering the region west of Siena, gave us 18 different route marches.

Milder than forecast winter aids acquisitive Homeserve

The emergency repair group Homeserve unveiled a better than expected 28 per cent jump in its annual pre-tax profits yesterday, boosted by a milder than forecast UK winter.

Candida Crewe: The weigh-in could become a weapon in the war against fat

At the beginning and end of each term we were ordered into a queue for our turn at the stake: a step up in front of everyone on to the old-fashioned scales in the school hall. They closely resembled the outsized ones in the school kitchen, daily employed to weigh large slabs of meat or dough.

Caesar by Adrian Goldsworthy

At least he cut their throats first

Scourge and Fire: Savonarola and Renaissance Italy by Lauro Martines

The politician who tried to be a prophet

Muriel Spark, giant of literature, dies

Author of 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' and 'The Girls of Slender Means' dies in hospital in Florence aged 88
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn