August in Tuscany can take your breath away. Yes, it’s beautiful, but in reality, I am talking about the heat, humidity and lack of breathable air! Even in properties like our own, which is old and built of thick stone walls, you will struggle to stay cool. The problem is the roof, concrete under tiles, which heats up during the day and fails to cool down sufficiently over night as temperatures have not been going lower than around 21 degrees. Last week, temperatures were up to 38 degrees again and wow, by 4pm we are gasping and changing into our third set of clothes. Today, we are thankfully enjoying a drop in overnight temperature and a maximum of 32 degrees, which is much better.The 15th August is Ferragosto, or the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary, which is the ‘taking of the Virgin Mary bodily into Heaven,’ whatever that means! Anyway, everything closes on that day, absolutely nobody works, but they do play! This week the motorways to the seaside will be nose to tail with traffic, cars loaded up with three generations and enough food to feed an army. Unless you have already booked a hotel or apartment with their own bit of beach, you will not have a hope of finding a patch of sand to pitch your sun brolly.
Of course, the high temperatures have been perfect for the bathing beauties parading in front of the judges for the Miss Toscana contest. Here in Italy it is still a very popular event, despite the rest of the western world frowning on the so-called exploitation of young women. Let’s face it, Tuscany has some very beautiful young women and if they choose to put themselves on show, so be it.
If this is not your cup of tea, and it’s not really mine, there is a lot going on in our lovely province.
It is the time of year for outdoor picnics, parties and festas. A favourite site for me to find lots of organised events is at Discover Tuscany. You may already know this, but you will not find most of the usual places open as Italians, by tradition, go on holiday for most of August. But there is still lots to do.
Meanwhile, August is a very busy month for open air music concerts and operas. For those of us remaining at home, the atmosphere of a concert or opera in a beautiful Tuscan town or city is indescribable. You have to experience being surrounded by Renaissance buildings and listen to the amazing acoustics. Check out Discover Tuscany for these events too.
We have just got back from C'era Una Volta our local ristorante, where it was nice and quiet and gently cooled by the air-conditioning. Now Paolo, the owner, has a liking for hot spicy food and makes the meanest chilli sauce. It has been said that in very hot weather you should drink hot tea to cool you down. Well, Paolo came out of the kitchen carrying a huge pot containing his own cooling down recipe, home grown baby tomatoes cooked in a very hot (picante) sauce. My man quite likes the occasional pasta arrabiatta but this, whilst smelling delicious, would blow your head off! We declined a tasting (assaggi) and went for the salsa pecoraia instead. If you are a meat eater, Paolo will bring out your huge raw Fiorentina Steak to view before he cooks it! All part of the theatre.
Personally, I am close to finishing my chapter synopsis for Assassin’s List, book four of the Continuing Adventures of Joana Wilde. Come September I will be able to crack on with the first draft of the novel itself, I am getting very excited about the twists and turns in the plot! I am also rather painfully trying to do daily practice on my beautiful Stretton Payne guitar, a present from a lovely musician friend. I am, of course, hugely privileged to be able to write and practice my singing in a stunning converted monastery farmhouse on the edge of Chianti. It is so very inspiring. I am surrounded by artists, musicians and writers; what could be more perfect?
Do come to Tuscany soon.
Salute June x
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