The heat of summer is behind us and the days are cooler, especially in the mornings and evenings. We have had rain and storms and I often wake up to mists rolling over the hills around Ponte a Serraglio.
The river is full of water after the low levels of summer. After heavy rain it turned brown with mud.
One morning I watched a fisherman hoping for a catch below my balcony.
Trees are beginning to change colour.
The magnolias on the bridge that didn’t do well over summer began to thrive once the weather cooled.
Ferragosto Is a public holiday for all of Italy. Emperor Augustus made the 1st August a holiday to reward agricultural workers after weeks of hard work. Centuries later the Catholic Church moved the day of festivities to the 15th August, the Assumption of Mary, to include it in the celebrations.
Just about everyone is on the move on Ferragosto, either going to or coming from holidays, heading for the beach or the mountains and gathering with friends and family. It is a good day to stay off the roads. Autostrade can turn into car parks and traffic jams are everywhere…and it is hot!
This year I was very lucky to be invited for lunch with friends in the hills behind Bagni di Lucca. The house is accessible by a road used by almost nobody, no traffic snarls for us.
You know lunch is going to be good when you can see a wood fired oven smoking.
The house is hundreds of years old and is hidden in a chestnut forest.
I love the huge flat rock dragged into the yard to be used as a table. I needs to be level before that happens.
The first delights to come from the oven were potato, herb and parmesan slices.
Home made pasta followed.
There was crunchy bread.
Roast chicken and ribs.
All the roasted vegetables came from the orto.
A vegetable tart appeared and quickly disappeared.
Next was a delicious fig and nut tart.
After lunch there was some serious resting and conversation…what a perfect way to spend Ferragosto. I feel very privileged to be included in these celebrations.
This summer has been very hot, especially in the last few weeks. The flowers on my balcony and on the bridge have been a big disappointment. The flowers are straggly and nothing I do seems to make a difference. The bees don’t seem to mind though. At least someone is happy with them.
I like to listen to podcasts and recently I was asked to be part of one. My friend Andrea Waterhouse is doing a series of podcasts about Lucca and invited me to chat with her about my thoughts on living in the area. The podcasts are called Life in Lucca with Andrea.
I was invited recently to visit a sewing group in Casabasciana. My friend Erica belongs to the group. Members meet roughly once a week to sew together. Luciana leads the group. She has had many years experience as a professional seamstress with tailors who worked for high end brands and later with a dance company making exquisite costumes. How wonderful that she loves to share her knowledge and experience!
Luciana is the one in the pretty floral dress. The group is fluid, people come and go.
I was fascinated to see an old Pfaff sewing machine. I thought it must be about the same vintage as my beloved Bernina that I have been sewing on for almost 60 years.
I was proved to be correct when the original docket was produced from the purchase…1962.
Each person works on their own items on various machines and help each other with their work. I think this is an excellent idea, those with experience can help people learning to sew and it is nice to work in a friendly group. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon in the company of others doing something you enjoy.
Luciana has an interesting way of cutting out a garment. The paper pattern is secured in place with an old iron and chalk is used to outline the pattern, then the garment is cut.
She showed me some of the costumes she has made over the years. She has quite a collection.
The group has a few pretty skirts to sell to a dance or school group who might need some costumes. If anyone is interested they can call Luciana on 348 3627426
Thank you for inviting me to see the sewing group. Perhaps it will inspire others to form a group of their own.
Not everyone will have an amazing view from their sewing room like this one in Casabasciana.
Yesterday I attended the opening of Giuseppe Zago’s Vita della Ruggine exhibition in Montefegatesi. That roughly translates to Life of Rust.
Giuseppe takes rusty bits of farm equipment and old tools and creates whimsical art pieces. Old shovels become faces, long metal rods become birds legs, metal plates become fish, picks become cats, chains become necks for giraffes…new, fun life from thrown away objects.
Here is the artist.
Giuseppe loves making these wonderful pieces and is unsure about selling them. I think we need to convince him. I have my eye on several items for my garden.