Salad days: Now is the time to sow those delicious cut-and-come-again crops

For vegetable gardeners there is a flurry of mouthwatering firsts in July: the first shiny truncheons of courgette, the first slim, sweet carrots, the first early potatoes, the first shiny tomatoes. Perhaps even a cucumber. You can bet that somewhere, some smartypants will be saying airily, "Oh! I had those in June". But will that fantastically irritating paragon have remembered to sow more cut-and-come-again salad crops? Or a second row of French beans to crop under cloches in autumn? Or chicory, choy sum, endive, kohlrabi, komatsuna, mibuna, mizuna, oriental mustard and spinach leaf? Seed sowing is always more in our minds in spring and successional sowings of crops tend to get forgotten later in summer.

Florence and the Machine: Meet the sound of the summer

Florence and the Machine's dark, dramatic and downright sexy music has already made her pop's hottest property

Take your seats for this summer's top six classical music festivals

Leave the wellies behind. You won't have to traipse through the mud to enjoy these elegant seasonal spectaculars. Adrian Mourby rounds up the highlights, from Verdi and Rossini in Italy to Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn in California

Injuries on Kercher's body 'consistent with attack by more than one person'

Wounds were from two different knives, Perugia courtroom is told

Hunt for the Monster of Florence

When two writers tried to look beyond a bizarre murder investigation focused on Masonic rites and a psychic, the police turned on them. Their account is now coming to Hollywood, thanks to Tom Cruise

Lippi declines to talk about Cassano snub

Italy coach Marcello Lippi declined to give reasons for his decision to again omit in-form Sampdoria playmaker Antonio Cassano for two World Cup qualifiers.

Sting sends out message in a bottle of red

For a musician whose vocal cords sound in need of cough mixture, Sting's latest commercial venture could prove most soothing. The singer and occasional lutist plans to sell red wine made from grapes grown on his organic farm in Tuscany later this year.

The Complete Guide To: Tuscany

Start with the exquisite art, museums and churches, then relish the cuisine and epic countryside. Jonathan Buckley highlights the best of the quintessential Italian region

The Monster of Florence, By Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

After moving to Florence to write a novel, the American crime writer Douglas Preston made contact with Mario Spezi, a celebrated local crime reporter, to help him understand how Italian policemen tick. The novel went nowhere, but thanks to his friendship with Spezi he found himself with an inside track on the investigation into the horrific "Monster of Florence" murders.

The Complete Guide To: Palatial Italy

Historic palaces across the country have opened their doors to guests – and you don't need a princely budget to experience some atmospheric Italian splendour.

Best for rural retreats: Tuscany

From high-level trekking in Morocco's Atlas Mountains to rubbing shoulders with A-listers on Hollywood Boulevard, and from rural retreats off Tuscany's beaten track to jet-set hang outs for Moscow's super-rich, our writers have been to the ends of the earth to find a world of inspiration

The Enchantress of Florence, By Salman Rushdie

We know that Rushdie will never pick up a full deck of positive reviews for anything he writes, but the predictable divisions that greeted this spectacular fantasia should not mask its sheer panache and pace.

Album: Haydn, Italian Arias – Quasthoff et al, (Deutsche Grammophon)

First of the inevitable anniversary year releases, Thomas Quasthoff's recital focuses on the least well-known area of Haydn's work.

24-Hour Room Service: Four Seasons, Florence, Italy

Some first-time visitors to Florence have been known to suffer from Stendhal syndrome – often referred to as Florence Syndrome – which is named after the 19th-century French novelist. As a result of prolonged proximity to such "sublime beauty", he was overcome with an extreme case of nerves and palpitations.

Madama Butterfly, Floria Tosca – they all came from Lucca

Visit this Tuscan city as it marks the 150th birthday of its son, Puccini, says Adrian Mourby
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
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11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

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Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
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Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
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Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone