Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely readers around the World,
I am writing to you on 15 August, and it’s as hot and humid as can be. It is also Ferragosta, the festa day when traditionally the Italians would have all gone to the coast or mountains in search of a cool breeze. But not so many this year. We were surprised to find the car park in our local village of Fiano almost full, so many locals have stayed at home.So is Italy safe? I hear you ask. Yes, it is safe, perhaps less so in the north, just as long as you continue to take those all-important precautions: masks, hand cleansing and distancing. Follow the rules! My daughter was in her local town here in Tuscany, trying to go to the farmacia (chemist), and there was a crowd of tourists milling around with no masks and no distancing! She had to shout to be heard when she asked them to give her room to get through! It was so bad that the polizia (police) had to get out a loud hailer and ask them to put on their masks and to spread out! Some people are just ignorant and others, quite frankly, stupid. So, it is down to you to remain safe and avoid busy tourist spots if you can! Tuscany is so full of beautiful culture and countryside, it is not difficult to find many quiet and less touristy places to go. The tourist industry is slowly recovering, but you will still find many lovely self-catering properties, like nearby Villa Il Pozzo, with vacancies.
I’m glad to say that the fruit and veg markets are all open in the towns, if with the usual restrictions. However, many village grocery stores have done very well over the last few months, as people have been afraid to go to the supermarkets or get into long queues. I’m a great believer in supporting the small shops here; it’s so important to help keep these businesses alive, after all, the Italians have spent centuries keeping their small shops and artisan businesses going.
You will of course be aware of the wonderful sweet tasting tomatoes here in Italy. Well, the locals are currently very busy using up the glut of tomatoes to make passatta, including my daughter, who has run out of jars and is scrabbling around for more. Meanwhile, the countryside is pretty noisy, with constant strimming of the dried grasses and squeaky tractors cutting the meadow hay below our farmhouse. We hear laughter from nearby swimming pools, and the cicadas continue to chirp away. But it is far too hot to stay outside, between 35°c and 39°c this week. So, we batten down the shutters, turn on the air conditioning unit and fans, and settle down to work in our studios.
What else? Oh yes, on a musical note, more open-air concerts are planned for the end of August and September. Whilst the big bands have obviously stayed away, we have some really good musicians of our own. I find Facebook very good for events. You only need to put in the location you are interested in and up will pop loads of live and streamed events, rock and classical concerts, dance, food and wine.
Finally, here’s a bit of a fun thing in Florence. Have you heard of Wine Windows? These medieval windows, of which there are more than 150, have re-opened to serve wine to the tourists! This is most appropriate, because back in the late Middle-Ages these windows were created to serve wine to the people of Florence, due to the Bubonic plague or Black Death, which had swept across Europe, wiping out half of the population! So, these small windows provided protection for the winery owners, whilst at the same time serving the much needed ‘Italian Water’ to the populace. There is actually a society that keeps all the windows registered and looked after. At this website you can find all the windows and where they are. Fascinating stuff!
OK, time to think about lunch. Fortunately, I have something ready to heat up, so no need for cooking today! I must admit, I am gasping for a glass of chilled chardonnay, so I shall go and organise it! Now where is my man? Ah, down in the cantina methinks. I will go and shout down to him!
Have a great month, stay safe, and do get in touch; I love to hear from my readers.
Salute June x