• Dawn Cumming

Every year on the first weekend of September on the city walls, Lucca holds the Murabilia an event dedicated to flowers, plants and gardening. This year marked the twentieth edition of the Murabilia and I can’t believe that it was my first visit to it in as many years that we have had our house in Tuscany. What took me so long!

This year was perhaps a little different in that even although it was an outdoor event you needed to have a Green Pass to enjoy it. Despite queuing for longer than I would have liked to buy a ticket it was well worth it in the end.

You really don’t need to be green-fingered to appreciate the Murabilia since, beside plants and horticultural products there was so much more to see with stands brimming over with fresh produce including honey and cheese as well as a display of traditional skills and crafts such as basket weaving.

The Lucca Pumpkin/Squash Club (Club Le Zucche Di Lucca) stand especially caught my eye with its variety of colourful pumpkins and squashes in different shapes and sizes. I also really enjoyed the stands with natural botanical based skincare products.

The ticket price for the Murabilia also included entry into the Orto Botanico (Botanical Gardens) in Lucca and we spent a lovely afternoon there exploring the garden and viewing an exhibition.

September really is a lovely time to visit Lucca and I have now put the Murabilia event firmly in my calendar.

  • Dawn Cumming

It seems that around every corner in Tuscany there is something of beauty to see no matter how simple it may appear. I love to capture the simple essence of Tuscany whether it be in the detail of an old knarled olive trunk, work worn tools, ancient stone walls........... the list could on and on.

I take lots of photographs using my i phone but I always make sure that when I see something of interest I really look at it first with my eyes before just tapping the 'photo' button. I like to think of it as though I am going to paint what I see before me , although in reality I am no artist. Firstly I consider whether what I see would make a pleasing composition. I observe the details of colour, light, texture and form. I guess this is the art historian in me since I am trained to see detail. Beauty can be found in everything, you just need to know how to look.

  • Dawn Cumming

I would like to share with you some simple Tuscan pleasures that I enjoy during the summer months. First and foremost is of course just the privilege to be in Tuscany and to stay at our little Tuscan abode up in the hills above Bagni di Lucca. There is nothing more satisfying than throwing open the shutters and flooding the house with some well deserved light and air after the cooler days of spring. It is quite impossible to describe the views from the windows but trust me when I say that they are so incredibly beautiful with verdant green enveloping the hills all around and a sliver of silver river to be seen at their foot. Days begin with the crowing of a cockerel at Dawn and end with majestic sunsets.

In the month of June the intoxicating scent of jasmine carries heavily in the light summer breeze and even finds its way inside our house. It is a delight to savour its fragrance.

In July bright yellow sunflowers make me feel happy and I long to stay here forever.

On those days when the heat from the sun becomes too intense it is a relief to walk in the shade of the ancient chestnut woods. It is even more of a relief to visit somewhere such as San Pellegrino in Alpe where it is possible to enjoy cooler temperatures.

It is always wonderful to see our kind-hearted Tuscan neighbours and friends. Our neighbour Giuseppina always treats us to some of her delicious home cooking. No-one makes torta di riso as good as she does!

I become quite a domestic goddess myself when I am in Tuscany and really make the most of using all the fresh fruits that grow abundantly during the summer months. Jam making is the order of the day.

A welcome sight in August are the cardboard boxes and crates of bright red tomatoes that line the doorsteps of houses in the village in readiness for the annual passata making.