Welcome to my monthly column from Tuscany.
Just like most of Europe, our little bit of Tuscany is currently sodden and flooded from the deluge of rain. This has caused landslides, and non-essential traveling is not recommended. As much as we love our adopted homeland, we will never be happy about the poor infrastructure and lack of quality roads.If the roads were like this in England the local authorities would be paying out millions to car drivers because of the holes everywhere! It really becomes a problem after a lot of rain here as the land is so porous. Even old solid properties are cracking and some are moving!
A local contadino said to me the other day, in Italian of course, ‘Don’t worry Signora, your house is safe where it is, mind you, it was originally much further up the hill than it is now!’ Very funny, I don’t think! We have had just two sunny days in over three weeks!
Contrary to popular belief outside of Italy, it is not always warm and sunny in Tuscany. Mind you, I have to say that we are warmer than northern Europe and we probably won’t need to light the log fire before December, even though it’s tempting.
On a much more cheerful note, it has been great for fungi. Both porcini mushrooms and white truffles (tartufo bianco) are in plentiful supply. These are things I do not cook myself, preferring to go to one of a few local restaurants that specialize in these wonderful dishes. White truffles are to die for, simply grated over cooked buttered pasta. Important to use the right grater though, not a cheese one! You need nice little flakes of the stuff.
Autumn has been a little dull until a couple of days ago. Now the trees and bushes are finally glowing, it must be a change of light. A friend in Washington DC had experienced the same thing, how strange.
Anyway, things are starting to gear up for Christmas; I just love this time of year. You will now find Christmas markets all over the place, particularly at the weekends. Many towns and villages have put up their street lights and decorations! Our local village of Fiano now has a lovely ceramic shop where Gabriella Carbini has produced some really beautiful things for the Festive Season and great for gifting. Her window looks gorgeous.
One of the things I really love at Christmas time is watching old Italian films. Some of the comedies are really brilliant and what with so many Italian actor icons dying off, it’s good to keep these films on the shelf.
Sophia, bless her, is still very much alive, but so many of her co-stars like Marcello Mastroianni are not. What a formidable acting team those two made! By now you have probably worked out that I am a hoarder of books, records and DVDs. No, I am not digital, well maybe a little bit. I am a little sad that buying gifts like diaries, calendars, CDs and watches are just not of interest to the younger lot, as everything is digital now! Yes, my thoughts have gone all festive already. It was not my intention to start talking about Christmas, but it is only six weeks or so away!
Meanwhile, I read that Andrea Bocelli has launched a new album. Now, as well as books, it’s rather nice to buy albums for Christmas and this latest one sounds wonderful. Last Christmas we treated ourselves to a new record player, so all our old albums can be played again! Andrea’s album includes wonderful duets with Ellie Goulding and Jennifer Garner amongst other guest performers. It is called ‘Si Forever’ and can be bought or streamed here.
Well, whatever you are doing in your bit of the world, I do hope you are looking forward to Christmas preparations as much as I am!
Stay dry and see you next month.
Salute June x