My early enchantment with Tuscany must have been influenced by EM Forster’s ‘A Room with a View’ which took place at this time of year. The month of May caught the last of the nightingales and the very first fireflies that dance over the meadows throughout May and June but gradually leave by the end of July and the start of the school holidays.
Traditionally schools ended before harvest time so children could provide unpaid labour and help gather it in before the summer thunderstorms. It is also the time for shooting stars, the feast of Saint Lawrence on 15 August is said to be the best night to observe them.
In Edwardian days when EM Forster was young, Florence was the place to visit in the month of May. As now, the Florentine lilies were in flower on every bank, roses and wisteria covering every pergola.
My first visit towards the end of June was just as good. I stayed in the youth hostel which was near Fiesole, above Florence. It was surrounded by olive groves inhabited, it seemed to me, by fireflies!