Todo in Tuscany

Carol and friends in the garden of Villa Carola


Todo in Tuscany

Reprinted with kind permission of the San Francisco Examiner and The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Click on image to enlarge and view as a pdf.


Todo in Tuscany

The programme cover for Carol's Memorial Concert; portrait by Laura Ziegler


It wasn’t just Todo we inherited from Carol MacAndrew. Her presence had loomed large in the area since she’d arrived from San Francisco in the late 50’s and she’d become first President of the Associazione Musicale Lucchese in 1963, the music society formed by her friend and fellow American émigré Maestro Herbert Handt. Herbert had enjoyed a fine career as an operatic tenor performing at many of the world’s great theatres before turning his hand to conducting and becoming equally successful, establishing renowned opera series in many of the wonderful villas and theatres in the province of Lucca.

He had arrived in Italy in the late 40’s with his wife Laura Ziegler who was already establishing a reputation as one of America’s finest young sculptors. Like Herbert, awarded a Fulbright scholarship, she had come to Rome to study before moving to Lucca, eventually setting up a studio in the grounds of the magnificent Palazzo Pfanner. Though her work was in demand, and on show, at all of the most important American galleries Italy became her adopted home and Lucca – birthplace of composers Puccini, Catalani and Boccherini – where she and Herbert would remain. She still works at her studio in the famous marble city of Pietrasanta in the foothills of the Alpi-Apuane.

We were introduced to this marvellous couple by another of Carol’s great friends, Albertina Castoldi, who had lived close by and stayed loyal to the very end. Fluent in five languages she was invaluable as we settled in, entertaining and regaling us with many, sometimes wicked, stories of the great Mrs MacAndrew, delighted that Poggiolino was inhabited again and thrilled that Todo had at long last found people to love him once more.

Faced with the house's over 100 olive trees we were saved again by Carol or, more accurately, Umberto who had presided over their care - and the production of their marvellous oil - for more than twenty years. We'd never met someone who more understood about how to work and cultivate the extraordinary, rich Tuscan earth and it's been a joy to see his son Marco carry this on at Forestaria, producing top-quality oil from nearly 800 trees with his partner, Eleonora. 

But if we would never have bought this house without Todo then it’s inconceivable our new experience could have been quite so easy and enjoyable without Teresa, La Signora’s housekeeper for thirty years. She and her lovely family were never far way with help, support – especially of our nascent Italian – and advice. More importantly it was through her that we learnt so much of Carol MacAndrew, Poggiolino and, of course, Todo. It’s true to say that without her our book would never have come to fruition.



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