The continuing adventures of June Finnigan, her Man, and Farty Barty the cat.
Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers
Big fat juicy grapes, noisy tractors and trailers thundering past the villa, the air full of the smell of grapes being crushed and the smoke of bonfires burning the debris. That just about sums up September in our little bit of the Chianti hills. Hang on a minute, I jest, there is actually a lot more to tell you! It was the very last week in September when I finally got a photo of a trailer full of grapes. I could hear the tractors coming towards the villa, but never quite got myself hung out the window in time with my camera ready.I was on my way back from coffee in Fiano, when I came across a trailer waiting to be collected, leapt out of the car to get the photo just in time, before the tractor came thundering around the corner in a cloud of white dust. Phew!
The grape harvest is called the Vendemia. Despite the noise and dust, tourists turning up trying to take photos of the grape crushing and some even paying to help pick the things, it’s a great time. Most importantly, we have the drinking of the wine to look forward to! Did you believe me when I said that some tourists pay for the privilege of picking the grapes buy hand? Our celebrity friend and neighbour Sting, who lives a few valleys away, had invited fans to pay him to pick his grapes! Now that was a clever thing. Using one’s celebrity status to fill your vineyard with workers, pocket some cash and drink the proceeds! I wonder if my slightly lower celebrity status might attract someone to pay me to do my house work.
Back at Laura’s bar/alimentare in our local village of Fiano, things were very busy. Laura and Benedetta had returned from a well-earned break and locals were still sporting tans ranging from bright orange to chocolate brown, evidence of their time spent at the seaside (Al Mare) or up in the mountains, during August. Most had started back at work, which is a relief for us, as the shops and bars were all open again.
Work is still difficult to find here in Italy and the inflow of migrants continues unabated. However, the Italians are very good at creating work and in many cases a job for life. Take for example our local gutter clearing man. He has been around for years and can be found by the side of the road with his shovel and broom, keeping the water flowing. If you watch him for a short while, you will notice that every shovel full of mud and grit gets thrown back up the bank from whence it came. As soon as it rains, it all rushes back into the gutters. Now here is a job for life. By the time he has worked his way from the top of his steep winding hill to the bottom, he has to start all over again. Very clever. He is also popular, as locals regularly stop and chat, no doubt recognising a kindred spirit.
Mid-month, Florence and the surrounding area was hit by a ferocious tornado and was ankle deep in hailstones. The crop farmers in the immediate area were devastated, as the storm ripped out whole vineyards. Buildings were also seriously damaged. We were lucky to have been just outside the area.
September is when all the ‘grey-heads’ arrive. By that we mean mostly retired, as the children have gone back to school.
I can’t honestly say that I am proud to be English when we come across the rudeness some of them bring to restaurants and bars. As most of you will know, southern Europe, and particularly Italy, enjoys slow food and long lunches. Despite having enjoyed the bread, wine and water already on the table, we witnessed a group of four English, get frustrated having waited only fifteen minutes for freshly cooked food to order, and upped and left, without telling the chef! However, we have also met some very nice retired people and have been able to give them some pointers, oh, and my author cards of course!
Back at the villa, it was warm enough to enjoy a number of nice aperitivi on the upper terrace, I cracked on well with my current novel ‘The Bolivian Connection,’ my man made a couple of visits to London on successful business trips and Farty Barty the cat kept guard from various sunny spots in the garden.
Meanwhile, Italy’s own glamorous celebrity, Silvio Berlusconi, did enjoy some time in the news in September. He had a meeting with the Prime Minister Renzi, visited his football club AC Milan on a few occasions by helicopter and an imprisoned mafia man, Toto Riiana, was overheard saying in the prison yard that SB paid the Sicilian mafia protection money between the seventies and nineties. Well no surprise there then… Well enough of that. Time to organise a lunch on the terrace.
Ciao June xx
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.