...that we'd be entirely au fait with the plethora of public holidays which are scattered throughout the Italian year. On so many occasions, entirely without warning, have I been surprised by midweek empty streets and shuttered shops (either in honour of the obscure miracles of Saint Euphemia, or else the commemoration of a military or political event from several generations, or even several centuries ago) that I thought I had them all committed to memory. But, no...
Yesterday was Ferragosto. Since it was Sunday, it turns out that today is the holiday instead - although I thought they didn't do substitution in these things (or maybe they do, if it isn't an overtly religious holiday? Although, again, I've never been clear whether or not Ferragosto is religious - in Greece, it's celebrated as the birthday of The Virgin; and if this isn't supposed to be connected with that, then I don't really understand where it comes from.) In any event, I wasn't alone in being surprised, as I spied a smattering of white-haired Nonnas hovering uncertainly round the door to the Post Office, this morning, when I took the four-footeds down to the piazza for their constitutional. The door stayed resolutely closed, as we did a leisurely circuit of the otherwise deserted lawns. If the Nonnas can get it wrong, too, then I suppose I needn't feel too much of an innocent abroad.
August is an odd month here. Particularly this year, because of 'the crisis'. Businesses that would normally shut for weeks on-end seem to be taking it one day at a time, depending on the weather and on the possibility of any customers. Gian Carlo is working (sort of) but most of his suppliers are either closed or only open at odd hours; the Brazilians are working (sort of...but then, that could be said of them at any time of year); Signor Faschi, who said he would be in to polish the ex-loggia floors in Via Fucini 'after the holiday' could be turning up any day now, or perhaps not until the end of the month; our lawnmower dealer is now closed for two weeks, but it wouldn't make any difference if he were open anyway, as the machine importer he needs to speak to won't be open again now until September (our machine has died, well within its warranty period...but, fortunately, the Brancolis have been able to loan us one of their surplus ones).
The new rose pergola is finished, as is the entrance walkway. Half of the coping stones have been positioned around the edge of the lily pond, visible across its bed of newly-planted escallonia. It all looks a bit raw at the moment, but should look weathered and overgrown quite quickly. The interior of the barn is still a building site...despite the fact that we need it for a large lunch party next week. Which will be fun, in amongst the cement mixer, heaps of old plaster and discarded hard hats!
Nature carrries on whatever, and the apples are now ready to be picked. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them.
Tortelloni of Ragu, with a Tomato-Cream Sauce and Chives.
Sole in Parmesan and Marsala, with braised Celery.
Individual Tartes aux Pommes.