Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Wine Windows And Rock Tours

Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers,

Well, here we are again reflecting back on the previous month, which in this case is October in beautiful Chianti.As I write this column in mid-November, it is hard to think back to the early part of September. Central Italy was devastated by ongoing earthquakes whilst here in our little bit of Chianti, we were somehow spared with just a couple of minor quakes. But these were frightening enough, no damage done, but they certainly upped the blood pressure.

The day after the 3.9 quake here, we were hit by a terrible hurricane and a deluge of iced rain that went on for over three hours, the noise was horrendous. The deluge of rainwater caused more landslides and the track from our house to Fiano was blocked yet again the following day, so I had to turn around and go down to Certaldo for morning coffee. But we have been so lucky compared with our neighbours in Umbria and other parts of Central Italy.

With all the bad news in the local papers, it was nice to find a really interesting article about Little Wine Windows or rather I Finestrini di Vino. Now these little windows are what remains of the way the Florentines sold their personal wine production direct to the public over the last few centuries. Imagine, you tap the little window, pay your centesimo di lira and out comes a hand with a glass or jug of wine! I just love this idea and these little windows are all over Florence. Now there is a new society, which is dedicated to preserving them and for your further interest you must visit their website which can be read in Italian, English or German! Go to it’s a truly fascinating story.

For you lovers of Rock Music like me, I scanned the papers for band tours and found Radiohead and Depeche Mode. The scene was a little quieter than the previous month due to the weather being less reliable for outside concerts. But I love September for the start of the autumn fashions. My colour of choice is black, being a rock chick, but I love splashes of the orange and browns that are so popular here. Also deep purple and gold.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or should I say at our former monastery/farmhouse here in Chianti, it was time to try out our inglenook fireplace for the first time. Now we do have a vast experience of open fireplaces, in fact, my man actually built one many years ago in Somerset, England, so we knew there was only a 50/50 chance of it not smoking the sitting room out. So, mid-month on a Friday we got it lit and sadly we had to open the French windows to let the billowing smoke out. But for just a few minutes it looked beautiful and when it was roaring the smoke went up the chimney, but as soon as it died down a bit, out came the smoke again! So we are organising an electrician to fit an extractor fan for the top of the chimney, but this is Italy, we wait and wait!

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Then, outside in the countryside, it was time for going on chestnut (Castagna) hunts and the markets had great piles of them for sale. September is also a wonderful month for peaches and plums, so we were stuffing ourselves with fresh fruit and crumbles. Tuscany and probably most of Italy cooks seasonal vegetables and the Saturday market in Certaldo was a delight to visit. Local farmers were selling freshly dug leeks, celery, cauliflowers, broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, carrots, beetroots and lots more yummy things like the Certaldo Red Onion.

Of course, the most important harvest was the Vendemmia, the Grape Harvest. The countryside was alive with the noise of rattling tractors and trailers. Our having moved to our current property last April, we are not having to tolerate these vehicles thundering past our kitchen window anymore. More importantly, we are looking forward to our stock of Chianti wine being replenished very shortly!

Oh, I nearly forgot. I should mention that September celebrated Silvio Berlusconi’s 80th birthday and I was amazed to read that he had quoted “I will dedicate more time to the people I love and that is the way it should be: five children and ten grandchildren have turned me into a patriarch” he said in an interview on the big day. Ah, bless his silk socks. But if this means his retiring from the world of politics completely, then things will be far less colourful in that arena. I read that two out of three members want him back as the leader of Forza Italia; watch this space!

OK, must crack on with finishing my novel “The Italian Connection”.

Looking forward to telling you all about November next month.
Salute June x

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