IT is very hot, between 30 and 40 degrees each day, however, if you do your morning activities and have lunch at home and a good read and a sleep in the afternoon and go out in the evenings, the weather is very bearable.
My apartment is situated on the third floor so during the afternoon, I usually close all windows and shutters, then when the cool change comes open all the windows wide open and a beautiful breeze flows through. There are no flies and very few mosquitoes so I sleep with all windows open and under a top sheet which I must say is rather special.
My platitude for this month is: What is death, see you in paradise tomorrow.
I am already in paradise living in Florence and I haven't seen death yet!
I always thought the English did jams well however the Italians are marvellous with their jams too. You can buy the most delicious strawberry and berry jams, apricot, peach and many marmalades in any supermarket.
Keeping in mind these are off-the-shelf reasonably-priced jams, I haven't really gone to the expensive ones yet. They have very few preservatives in them so when you open them you have got to keep them in the fridge or they go off or sugary. The Italians use a lot of jams when they are eating cheese and they also cook a lot of breakfast pastries with the various jams. However I find the jams on toast or fresh bread magnificent.
Some friends from England bought me a couple of bottles of Pimms, so I have been making jugs of Pimms to serve to friends when they come and everybody has loved it! I have also made the same concotion with white and red vermouth, much cheaper than Pimms but nearly as good.
Italians and their electric wiring
The Italians are amazing electricians, they hang wire from one building to another form on floor to another. I think the wiring looks just like our extension cord leads. It looks untidy and I am not sure how safe it all is, but that is the way they do it!
Peaches, apricots and nectarines are right in season and at the markets they are very cheap. One peach in particular, caught my eye and my fancy. These are flat, white peaches if you can imagine them, with a small stone. Apparently they are a very old species that have been found again and are being used. As well as being white, which is special, they are delicious and I tell my friends that God has sat on every one of them! I find I am having peaches for lunch on fresh bread and I also cut the peaches and apricots into salads for evenings.
Mayor of Florence
I have a wonderful view across the hills from my windows. With the beautiful pink roofs on the buildings, and the greenery of the hills, it is a very beautiful sight, except being marred by ugly TV ariels. I am sure today with technology, they could all be pulled down and replaced with something smaller. I also think a lot of the TV ariels are not in use. In the local English paper The Florentine, there is a section to write to the mayor, which I will do soon.
This was on 6 weeks ago and everyone has parties and musicians set up stages all through the town. The party goes on all night, it is wonderful to be out, walking around listening to music and drinking at special bars that are set up. However the week after, for some reason, a shop in the bottom of my building threw an all night party, and obviously some people complained, so in my letterbox a few days later was an Italian letter of apology. My Italian friend read the letter to me in English, and I thought it was the most beautiful letter of apology I have ever heard so I reproduce it for you now:
To the attention of all the kind neighbours of the Cultural Association co2
On the name of the Cultural Association co2, with its headquarters in Via Mazzetta 10R, Excuse us.
First of all excuses, on June the 10th, for the occasion of the opening of the first personal show of Enrico Cattaneo, the music continued at high volume until well after midnight. That will not happen again.
We understand the inconvenience we have caused you and we ask you to pardon the naiveness of our behaviour. We shall try to do better in the future, following the simple rules of 'good neighbours', or in a more banal way 'good sense'. Our initiative here has still just started so we are somewhat 'green' , but we would like to take the occasion of this letter to introduce ourselves.
We are a Cultural Organisation, whose founding members, Cosimo de Vita and Cosimo Vardaro have opened a little while ago (April 15th) a gallery in Via Mazzetta. Our objective is to offer show space to give visibility to works of artists and artisans and designers who show young talent; Florentines and non Florentines. With a regular turnover the Association organises exhibitions (personal and collective) proposing to the pueblos the work of its new artists. Probably on the se occasions our presence will be a disturbance, which we will try to keep to a minimum.
You are all invited to participate in our events, which would be an occasion to meet each other personally. Something that in these times is rare and precious
Cultural association co2
I have an old friend friend in Warnambool who joined the Hash House Harriers. For those who do no know it is a walking and running group that originated in Hong Kong, I think, and it is loosely based on fox hunting but of course when you are walking the streets of small towns there are no horses and no hounds, just people having fun.
It is their practice to give members nicknames. The reason for writing this little piece is my old friend was given the name Not A Bloody Hair Out Of Place. I have a companion in Florence who I have given the nickname of Not A Bloody Hair In Place!
My balcony and views
I have a lovely balcony overlooking a courtyard on one side of my house and on the other side I look out on to the hills around Florence. There is a lovely church I look out over with a bell tower just 50ft away from my bedroom window. I can actually see the bells ringing, which my grandchildren, when they come at Christmas will love.
Getting back to the balcony. I have acquired a new rosemary bush for my herb garden and also a couple of wonderful basil plants, there are even some tomato plants growing.
Maestro meaning master
The Italians often use it for their professors and their music masters and older artists etc.. Walking around Florence as an older man a lot of Italians refer to me as maestro. I suppose it is a combination of age and long hair and being well dressed. I find it a compliment and quite amusing.
This week I have been privileged to go to master classes and concerts in Greve in chianti. A dear little town. The master classes are run by a 92-year-old gentleman called Daniel Ferro. In the past a great opera singer and conductor. He has been teaching at Guiliard school in New York and travels the world still teaching young Opera singers. Of course everyone refers to him as Maestro. He is an amazing man and sitting in on the workshops is truly inspiring. I will write more of this fantastic two-week experience. As a matter of interest all this is free of charge. Of course the students pay to do the course and a lot them are on scholarships. Mixing with the students and the teachers and the accompanists from all over the world is just amazing!
In my next missive I will talk about the Italians and their holidays at the beach.