The continuing adventures of June Finnigan, her Man, and Farty Barty the cat.
Benvenuto to all my Loyal and New Followers
Here in Beautiful Tuscany, August is the month for winding down a bit. Nevertheless, it remains busy from a tourist point of view, despite the fact that eighty percent of shops, restaurants and café bars are closed as the owners disappear off to Il Mare (the seaside) or the mountains. It’s a peculiar thing, Italians never think to take advantage of the potential trade as they are too driven by tradition, and in August off they go again. It is particularly evident once Ferragosta begins on the fifteenth, the celebration of the summer’s toil before the Vendemia (grape harvest).So, once again we sit enjoying our aperitivo in Montespertoli’s main piazza, watching the bewildered tourists traipsing around searching for somewhere to eat!
The first week in the month was disaster in the kitchen for me. As many of you know, I am not the most expert or enthusiastic cook. My most forgettable moment was skidding on the cooked cauliflower florets that had bounced onto the floor, grabbing the handle of the fridge, which swung open, then banging my head on the open and hot oven door, which resulted in the potatoes rolling out! I sat down in disgust with a glass of Pinot Grigio and shouted to my man, “I’ve had an accident in the kitchen and we’re eating out again!” When he eventually came downstairs he said, “I heard some banging and swearing, but that’s normal for you. Err, what about the plum crumble you were going to make for me, I picked the plums especially…..” I sighed. Well at least we do have fruit in the garden to pick and eat, preferably without cooking. Small sweet grapes, our very first passion fruits, plums and oranges.
Thank god for the local Italian restaurants, the few that are open in August of course. Paolo at C’era una Volta in Lucardo, brought out two huge boxes of young zucchini (courgettes) with the flowers attached to show us, straight from his own garden. It’s a popular time for fried courgette flowers and also in other dishes like risottos, yummy. We also enjoyed a late birthday celebration for our beautiful daughter and the family, at Trattoria Montalbino, where they specialise in fungi and in particular Tartufo (truffles) and Porcini. I adore their big round Porcini, grilled over the open wood fire; they come out all soft and squidgy inside. Mmmm.
Our thirteen year old grandson came to stay for three days in August, so he and granddad enjoyed games of cricket in the lower terrace and watching the hilariously funny ‘Black Books’ DVDs, a TV series from England. Then our beautiful nine year old granddaughter came for three days, so it was out with the board games again, ‘Sorry’ and ‘The Game of Life’ being her favourites.
Mid-month, we enjoyed a day with our daughter and family. We were celebrating our grandson’s half-birthday, as he was going to England to start his new school and would be away for the actual day. The other half-birthday will be at half-term; we are really looking forward to that. While the men went off for a round of golf, we girlies took the granddaughter for a horse riding lesson at the stunning Villa Pignano, which is between Siena and Volterra. Then we repaired for coffee in the beautiful courtyard, after a stroll around the fabulous gardens. After a delicious lunch in the family garden of their home near Siena, the afternoon was taken up with cricket in the garden and would you believe it, I bowled our very sporty grandson out!
Back at the villa we are relaxing with an aperitivo and my man says, “Can you see anything different?” “Well the view seems to have opened up a bit.” I respond. “Yep, you are right. I was trying to get the last of the plums from the top of the tree, but the ladder was too short. So I chopped the tree down….” Horrified, I rushed to the railing overlooking the orchard and there is the sad tree, not exactly chopped down but severely pruned. “Isn’t it a bit early to prune a fruit tree?” I frown. “Not if you want another plum crumble.” He says in his most serious voice. I return to my aperitivo and sigh.
So, overall, despite Laura having closed her bar/alimentare in Fiano for two weeks, taking a much needed break, it was a most enjoyable month. Lots of English weddings going on and people getting lost and asking for directions to various villas, my man expertly sending them off in completely the wrong direction, running through heavy downpours and shivering in the cold. Yes, the weather was pretty appalling, the worst August in over ten years. In fact no summer at all. But we don’t care about that and as the Italians like to say, life eeez good, life eeez now! Farty Barty the cat can vouch for that.
Ciao June xx
PS No sign of Silvio in August.
June Finnigan is an English expat who lives with husband Paul and Barty the cat in their lovely villa overlooking the Chianti Hills, in Tuscany.
June is a published Author and her first book 'My Father, The Assassin' is available on Amazon.