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Bookmarked Blog

As we approach the end of the year - and before we announce the 2022 Dymocks Book of the Year Shortlist - we want to share a little more love for our 2021 winner, Still Life. To celebrate the beautiful blue exclusive edition hitting our shelves, Sarah Winman has written a piece just for Dymocks.

Read on for a glimpse inside the Pensione Bertolini and the surrounding sights and sounds of Florence through the eyes of our protagonist Ulysses, and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this exceptional story.

Still Life Exclusive Edition

Still Life by Sarah Winman - Dymocks Exclusive Edition


Here are my thoughts this autumn afternoon. Ultimately, I shall be guided by your expertise in how to promote a business. Alter the text as you see fit. I look forward to seeing the finished brochure with Massimo’s atmospheric and cinematic photographs. He made us look like a Palace.

See you in the New Year, my friend. My love to Poppy.



The Pensione Bertolini

Piazza Santo Spirito

Florence, Italy.

(Telephone number to follow)

We are a family run bed and breakfast in the heart of the Oltrarno district of Florence. Situated at the southern end of Piazza Santo Spirito opposite the church of the same name. The pensione has four rooms, all doubles: two overlooking the square, two overlooking the courtyard and rooftops at the rear. Priced accordingly to the scenic outlook and seasonal fluctuations. There is no lift. But all the rooms have frescoed ceilings. The square offers a daily fruit and vegetable market which one of our guests – a Mr Colin Formiloe – once referred to as ‘entrancing, eye-opening and mouth-watering’.

We have a small dining room and honesty bar, but we encourage our guests to dine at Michele’s, the small trattoria in the south-western corner of the square, owned by Michele and his chef wife Giulia. The food, with its Sicilian roots, is unmatched. As is its atmosphere. We have arranged a generous discount of 15% for all guests of the pensione.

We are within walking distance of the Brancacci Chapel, the Ponte Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens, the Pitti Palace, the Uffizi and Palazzo Castellani: the Institute and Museum of the History of Science. As well as the Piazza della Signoria and the Loggia dei Lanzi. We would be happy to suggest a daily itinerary to match your mood and energy levels. We can also arrange tours up to San Miniato in a vintage Moto Guzzi motorbike and wine tasting at local vineyards. One of our guests, Miss Peggy Temper, described the vineyard trip as “So good, I can’t remember anything about it.”

The globe that you will find in the entrance hall of the pensione is a Temper & Daughter globe. Visits to the workshop in the nearby Piazza dei Sapiti are to be encouraged. One guest – a Mr Desmond Bambridge – described the globes as “being better than them old Castellani ones”. High praise indeed Des!

We like to stay our side of the River Arno and we think you’ll understand why when you arrive. One of our guests – a Mr Pete Fine – said it was a place where ‘you get to know yourself in a way that you’d never imagined you could get to know yourself before.’

The area is unassuming with an emphasis on artisanal crafts-making. Tourists are not so frequent, and palazzos rub up against hostels, and beggars, princes. We pride ourselves on this diversity. In Via Maggio, for instance, amidst the cheese sellers and butchers and fish mongers, there’s also a dancing school and a man who breeds chinchillas. A new leather shop has recently arrived in the area, too. It’s called Gucci.

We celebrate new season peas, asparagus, truffles and olive oil and our menu reflects this joy. We look forward to the wine harvest and St John’s Day. Book a feast with us!

If your stay includes a Sunday, listen out for the bells! We believe that all the churches compete on Sundays and Saint’s Days to be the best at bell ringing. The brothers up at San Miniato always win, in our opinion. Let us know what you think!

We look forward to welcoming you to our home.

Ulysses, Cress and the kid.

The Pensione Bertolini

***** As recommended by Dorothy Cunningham, the renowned abstract artist.

Still Life Exclusive Edition is available online and at your local Dymocks store.

Still Life
Sarah Winman

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