"Summer 2000"

In the spring of 2000 I wanted to stay outside of Florence in the countryside of beautiful Tuscany. In April I moved into the “country”.

First I worked at a tourist-oriented farm in exchange for board and lodging. Before the tourist season began I fed the animals.

... learned how to ride and explored the wonderful countryside of Tuscany on a horse.

My accommodation was very beautiful as well as remote, so I could learn and practise undisturbed the entire day.

Starting at 4 p.m. I worked as a “farmer”, in the kitchen, as a waiter or entertained the guests. That went on until late in the evening, and I realised that it wasn’t good for my studies.

So I decided to look for a place that was better suited for my necessities as a student, and I discovered a splendidly quaint village named “Querceto”. The time I spent here was one of the loveliest summers of my life. I stayed there until November before going back to Florence.

I lived like I was in a little castle. This was my living room, in which I practised and learned for many hours a day.

And this was my view from the window of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside. On a clear day one could see the sea.

I was welcomed with open arms, and despite the fact that the village only had a population of 30 people we had our own soccer team and our own stadium in the forest outside the village. Our coach was Massimo, the administrator of Querceto, and one of my best friends. The highlight of our “club history” was a championship, which we organised on the occasion of the yearly village festival, and we won. What we considered more important was the fact that we beat the larger neighbouring village twice. (Querceto and Ponteginori, the neighbouring village, have always had a rivalry) For this victory I contributed an awesome headed goal, which will never be forgotten.

As a singer, racing driver or soccer star, one enjoys special privileges in Italy. I was invited on average four times per week to dinner, and as a small thank you I always sang the song "Mamma". I wanted to return the favour, of course, so I started to cook Austrian specialities and receive guests in my little kingdom. Pictured here is the Zagalia family with whom I shared a very special friendship

This Tuscan farmers seems to really enjoy their dinner.

In the small village of Querceto I have many friends. In particular with Massimo (the Administrator), Paula (his sister) and Lucia, pictured here visiting me in Florence.

As thanks for this wonderful summer, before I returned to Florence, I gave a concert in the church of Querceto with my school colleague and dear friend, Susanna Piccardi.

To all the residents of Querceto I would like once again to express my heartfelt thanks.

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