So you think you would like to live in Italy

This is our story, warts an' all. We have come this far since May 2004 and survived the bureaucracy, a freezing cold winter, a landslip and a diminishing money pot. Share our experiences, believe me the good ones far outweigh the bad and if you want to ask a question and we know the answer, we'll tell it like it is.

I found this little phrase in a Collins Italian Phrase Book published in 1963 ~ "passa ogni limite" pahs'sah ohn'yee lee'mee-tay which means: That's the giddy limit. Useful if there's anybody out there that quaint!!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Men, Machinery and Shovels

LAPD ~ Look and
Point Department

It’s been a month of men, machinery and shovels. Pouring concrete, digging trenches, laying pipes and shovelling stones. Talking of concrete, I don't know about you, but for me there is something wonderfully compelling about it, especially watching it pour. Just the sound, a sort of sucking woosh, has you spellbound. In fact it excites almost all of my senses, with the exception of taste; not tried it, not going to. I think it harks back to my childhood when we used to make mud pies, lumps of earth and water all stirred round with a lolly stick with a few daisy heads thrown in for decoration. I used to call it ‘Sloppy Molly’ and the pleasure of it has stayed with me to this day. Concrete deliveries draw audiences and I’m in the front row.

Most men are a bit bashful about having their photographs taken but introduce a piece of machinery or a shovel and you’ll get a pose. Then the photograph has a new dimension, a story. In this one, the roof, the doors and the drainpipes go on the bunker. How easy it is to get excited about a delivery of concrete when it heralds the beginning of the end of a big project. No 'topping out' celebration though; in the grand scheme of things it's not the significant milestone. That marker is reserved for our new home, the old garage.

At long last things have stepped up a pace. Plans have been redrawn; the originals no longer recognisable behind the scribblings and scratchings of innumerable changes.

[It can be an expensive game changing plans once they’ve been approved. We’ve changed them more than once. A sad and forlorn old farmhouse can be transformed into an impressive, idyllic country home on paper but be absolutely sure the pretty picture works for you. Check distances of swimming pools from the house or other buildings. How do you see the landscaping around the pool? If there are any special features you want make sure you have the space. Be aware that a garden shed, a wood store, even a pergola or anything else that has a roof may require planning permission. Check every space internally, especially kitchens and bathrooms, even plan furniture in the rooms. If the house is a rebuild you may be able to re-site windows and doors. Scrutinise your plans as though you are going to move into the house tomorrow. Thinking it all out is hard work and time consuming but it could save you money and/or disasters.]

The race is on to finish the ‘bunker’, demolish the old garage and commence work on our new home in its stead, develop the cowsheds, landscape the garden and build the swimming pool by next summer. I wish that we could be catapulted into next year leaving the toil of this one just a crumpled list of done jobs but that’s called wishful thinking and we haven’t got time for that.

I’ve been planting trees in the field beyond the bunker, poplars and fruit trees. Poplars to define the land boundary and fruit trees, well, for fruit. One day you plant a stick in the soil, cover its roots with earth, soak them with water and in just a few days, little taut buds erupt into frilly blossom. When did I begin to appreciate the wonders of nature? Well, the idea is, eventually, clients who rent the house will have their pick of apricots, apples, pears, plums and peaches, all home grown. Vegetables too, next year.

Just when you think it’s safe to go into the garden the snow comes, again; damn it. We’ve done the snow and put it to bed then when everything about the weather signals Spring, thick green carpets of grass, profusions of blossom feathering the fruit trees and temperatures of 24 degrees, winter reminds you it’s not done. So now we wait. Back inside, half-heartedly picking over the ‘Indoors To Do’.

We have our man lined up to demolish the old garage for us and to dig the foundations. I’ll be there with the vid. another front row event. And the rebuild, well we have prepared little packs of plans, structural drawings and specifications (translated into Italian) to pass on to prospective builders. We have four lined up (a German, an Italian, an Italian who has lived in Canada for 11 years so has a good command of English and the five brothers from Kosovo, but, as is usual anywhere in the world, the best are already committed to work for the next six months or so and we can’t afford to wait. Che sara’ sara’.

Next month ~ The chosen builder. Demolishing the old garage, digging the foundations and other snippets.

Monday, February 18, 2008

DogBlog February

Monte and Giorgio, the day we found them and brought them home.

Our two rescue pups. Abandoned in Montegiorgio, hence their names. We took them home to give them a bath, feed them and to decide what to do with them. This was in June 2007 when they were about 3 months old. They are still with us and weigh nearly 50 kgs each.

What is it about animals, not only do they steal your heart but ours are beginning to steal my blogspace. I’ve had a number of requests from friends and family for more pics of the dogs so this is a DogBlog for them.

Something you need to know about the boys, Monte and Giorgio, they may look cute and fetching but behind the big amber puppy eyes there lurks cunning Fagin would have been proud of. They’ve made off with numerous shoes, coasters, a pair of glasses, cushions, dvd’s, towels; the list is endless. It’s not that they’re silent or inconspicuous; they just know when the moment is right and then they move in for the swipe. Their cunning doesn’t extend to the getaway however, having won the prize they behave like rowdy teenagers, clattering around squabbling and fighting over it. It’s a dead giveaway boys.

One morning they made an escape. Nothing clever about it, they found a gate open and they simply wandered out into the outside world from whence they came. It’s in a dog’s nature to migrate and they can cover great distances in only a short time. It was 15 minutes before we realised that they’d gone and who knows how many migratory miles that converts to, bearing in mind that dogs have ‘4 leg drive’ and follow instinct rather than roads. The question was, where do we begin to look for them? The only thing to do in these situations is to drive in any and all directions with the windows open hollering their names into the countryside and hope that their acute hearing will pick up the signal, and it did. We found them about a mile away, way across the fields, two glittering white splashes in the sunshine against a verdant backdrop, tails held high and trotting with a purpose. They stopped when they heard us; transfixed, ears like radars tipped in our direction. Then they were off, sprung like greyhounds from a trap, hurtling down the valley towards us, across the stream and through the brambles to greet us, heads trimmed with burs, uncontrollable with excitement, tongues lolling and chests pounding. It was so good to see them. Back home for breakfast. No walk that morning.

Some of the boys' fans

They already have a growing fan base as you can see by the photos. New fans, would you like to have your photograph posted on the DogBlog? Just email us your favourite photo along with your first name to: and we will publish it for you.

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