Easter Weekend 2020
Welcome to my monthly column from Tuscany, which aims to bring you lots of happy news and to remind you just how glorious it is here.Nature continues to erupt into Spring, ignoring all the human problems and suffering around the world. The countryside is a lush green, birdlife is noisy and busy and otherwise it is incredibly quiet here in the Chianti Hills. We have been under lockdown now for just over a month and it’s amazing how one gets used to it. I looked back at my blog written this time last year and thought you might like to read this extract.
Extract from my Easter Weekend blog 2019. ‘Yes, it’s that time of year again, Easter Weekend and the Tourists have poured in from every part of the globe. Cars and mini-buses are cruising past our Old Monastery Farmhouse with big-eyed faces staring out of the windows. Then there are the walkers. As we are surrounded by agriturismo places to stay, it’s normal to hear the sound of footsteps on the gravel track and wondrous voices in many different languages. But, we don’t mind, as this weekend heralds the run up to summer and it’s a pleasure to see and hear visitors enjoying themselves.’
Whilst the dramatic change is sad for all our lovely Italian friends in the Tourist industry and I really feel for them in this respect, the wildlife seems to be benefiting enormously. No hunters, walkers, cyclists or motorists crisscrossing the countryside. Phil, our resident pheasant has brought two hens to stay so that’s good news. We are being visited by deer and a few days ago a young fox who stayed around frolicking below my dressing room window playing with a stone. We also particularly love the dance of the Swallow Tail butterflies, entertaining us whilst we are enjoying an aperitivo.
Farming in the vineyards continues, so the one sound we do get is the squeaking of ancient tractors trundling up and down between the vines. There may be a lack of imported labour this year, but there is no shortage of migrants and local volunteers to ensure another good grape harvest. This is also true of the Olive groves.
We live just ten minutes from the village of Fiano. I go there twice a week to fill the water bottles, collect supplies and visit the farmacia (chemist) if I need to. Everyone has been wearing masks for weeks and it is now the law. We were very impressed to receive four masks in the post from the Commune di Certaldo a few days ago! Last Easter Saturday there was a queue at the alimentary (grocery store). However, the Italians are not going to form a long one, they instead create a big circle, carefully spaced out and straddling the road, but within an easy distance for greeting friends and catching up. No trollies here. Everyone knows whose turn it is to go into the store, just like it is in the doctor’s surgery. And, much of the supplies are already bagged up having been ordered over the telephone!
As you probably know, I am not the greatest of cooks, but it is amazing how the imagination can produce decent daily lunches. I have had no complaints from my man who is housebound but working from home. Our large garden is a blessing. We go ‘out for coffee’ every morning, which involves a slow walk around the garden, checking on buds and new growth, then returning to our front door for coffee. Thankfully I invested in a good traditional Espresso machine about six months ago; who’d have thought it would prove so important. Sans lockdown, we would be in Fiano enjoying coffee at La Dispensa and reading the papers every morning. But we are amongst the lucky ones, living in a lovely country house in the middle of the Chianti Hills.
Easter brought with it the opportunity to enjoy some things on-line that included a live performance by the tenor Andrea Bocelli in an empty Duomo in Milan. You can watch this on his YouTube. And, the opportunity to visit The Last Supper at the Museo Leonardo da Vinci. Go to Leonardodavinci.net
You can find lots of other things going on remotely in Florence and surrounding areas at www.thefiorentine.net which is all in English.
For the first time in years we had Easter lunch without our daughter and family, but we caught up over WhatsApp. At times like this, technology is a wonderful thing!
OK, time to go and prepare yet another lunch at home. It is a small thing, but I really miss going out to our local ristorante for lunch two or three times a week. However, that’s something to look forward to like all the other joys of being back amongst friends and family. We will be on lockdown until 3rd May, let’s hope things will ease up by then, I’m sure it will.
Take care all you lovely readers, stay home and stay safe!
Salute June x
Ps Have you read my books yet? Now’s a good time!