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!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Miseries of March

Spring is sprung,
De grass is swamped,
I wonder when de rain will stop.
And when it does, I look around,
There’s a not a builder to be found.
I ask them “Quando”, they answer calmly,
There’s always Domani, or Dopodomani!

March ~ rain, snow, rain, snow, rain, snow ~ mud. There is a particular member of our family who, at the very mention of the word ‘snow’ lapses into a romantic dream state, conjuring up cosy scenes of togetherness, log fires at night and snow flakes drifting by the darkened windows. How I would like to share just a corner of that dream, after all we do have roaring log fires and the snow was drifting ………. and continued to drift into cumbersome great banks hindering any progress to build works. Then the sun brings the thaw and rivers of water course through the gardens and the dog pound and muddy footprints infiltrate the house leaving a carpet of chalky clay everywhere. Ah, but it’s good to feel the sun if only for a day or two because the rains follow sun and then snow follows rain to perpetuate the cycle.
I say ‘spring is a humbug’ ~ well, this particular spring anyway. I’d like to say I don’t want to be a ‘wet blanket’ but I feel it would be a pun too far.

Everything is on hold. Well, that’s not strictly true, there’s enough work in the house to keep us busy for a year, but the order of things is disrupted. More importantly all the excitement of the demolition of the old garage and the building of our new home turns into frustration and after a few days of kind weather which should herald the arrival of the digger man and doesn’t, I remember that I live in Italy and why I came here almost four years ago. Because the pace of life is slooooooooooow.

The Italian Log Pile ~ Firewood or work of Art?

It’s not difficult to determine if they are built as a means to store firewood or if they are intended to be a work of art. One thing’s for sure, the Italians don’t go a bundle (sorry, that pun wasn’t intended) on actually burning wood; an Italians home is always freezing during the winter. But they go to enormous lengths to create a formidable pile which is admired by tourists and scrutinised by fellow Italians. (Personally, I believe it’s the yardstick by which the family’s status in the community is evaluated.) If you find that hard to believe then consider this. Log piles are not thrown together, they are created for effect. Each piece is carefully selected for its shape and size, and locked into the pile, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. One would think that a supply of logs for burning would be situated in a place that’s easily accessible, in a shed close to the house for example. Not so, they occupy prime space, are highly visible and are never crowded by other garden paraphernalia. Sometimes log piles are erected in the middle of the triangular islands where roads cross or to denote boundaries or built as walls to divide barns, some as tall as 30 feet, all intended to be permanent features. In effect then, a work of art.

All of this seems to have rubbed off on the stranieri who are keen to achieve the same standards of ‘wood knitting’ as their Italian counterparts. Nobody wants to be caught with an unwieldy wood stack for fear of being ridiculed by their neighbours. (We have British friends here who employ an Italian to stack their wood for them. I should think that really offends the Italians knowing that ultimately it will all end up on the fire.)

So, I’ve been out and about taking snaps of local wood piles. Can you guess which of the following has been sculpted by an Italian hand? Answers will be published at the end of April.

Click on the pics to enlarge.

Next month: Answers to Log Pile Quiz.

Not even going to predict anything else!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

DogBlog March

About the pups.

This ‘abandoned pup’ theory. There is every possibility that the pups belonged to a local shepherd since the Maremmano is bred to live amongst and protect sheep. If the dogs have pups then the mother brings them up in the fields along with the other dogs and sheep. They follow their parents’ example and natural instinct to protect the flock. There is never any training. It seems more likely that the pups, chasing each other in play, blundered their way beyond their boundary, pitching up in our garden at Montegiorgio. Thinking about it, maybe not only were they not abandoned but maybe they weren’t lost either. Maybe, they had passed by this way before and knew their way home and maybe we didn’t rescue them but absconded with them. I mention this because following our legal adoption of them, (ownership by virtue of microchips and passports) I was chatting to a shepherd who came by the house who told us that a friend had lost two Maremmano pups and that he had been looking for them. As it is, my command of the Italian language is only get-byable but there are times when, you know, I have no idea what they are talking about!!!

So much has been said about the ‘Pastore Maremmano’ ~ that they are bad mainly (cativo is the word the Italians use), not friendly towards people and vicious towards other dogs. There are no signs yet. The Italians are terrified of them, but then the Italians are frightened of most dogs however small. Almost all Italians have a friend who has been bitten by a dog at some time in their lives which goes some way to explaining why they retreat into walls when anyone out walking a dog approaches. It’s serious fun walking the dogs through the piazza on market day!

When we first brought the pups home and before we decided to keep them we bought each of them a collar and lead. They were only three months old and they certainly didn’t look like they had ever been tethered. We had fed and watered them, shampooed and de-flead (made-up word) them and prepared to take them for their first walk on a lead. Dragging them up the road whilst they were yelping, leaping into the air and spinning like tops was not the image I’d fostered of ‘country stroll with dog’ but I held true to my philosophy and urged my husband ‘to carry on, they’ll get used to it’. (I feel a certain affinity with Prince Philip at times). After a short while I began to have some doubts about this method of training, not least because the cacophony was beginning to draw unwanted attention. Now today, what with the internet an’ all there is no excuse for ignorance so I Googled “how to train a pup to walk on a lead” and in seconds I was faced with pages of good advice. The first piece of advice I read was “NEVER DRAG A DOG UP THE ROAD YELPING AND FIGHTING THINKING THAT HE’LL GET USED TO IT” Oops, learning something new every day.

Marlon (my favourite character from 'The Perishers'), would have said "I can see right up your nose".

About Me

My photo
Keep checking in. I swear I will put something in here one day.