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.

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 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.

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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power