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, August 29, 2008

Ferragosto and Frustration

The Pool house formerly the bread/pizza oven house
In August Italy closes down, well not all of it, the touristy places remain open, but that's what Ferragosto is all about. This is when the Italians take their holiday, anything from one week to four, businesses usually only two. But you have to plan carefully for it if you want to be able to buy building materials etc. because the suppliers will not always take the same two weeks. The Italians of course can't understand why we foreigners don't look forward to and enjoy Ferragosto as much as they do and just take a month out to chill but the word 'deadline' is anathema to the Italians and most of us foreigners are working to one! In Italy a finishing date can not be predetermined, it is when it is. To the likes of us trying to manage the restructure of three buildings and hoping to open next year for summer letting, a month off is just too much to swallow. So we planned for it and battled on in the August heat along with our Romanian builders. Hey, I've just found a wonderful article in the 'Italy' magazine (August edition) which I am about to reproduce for my blog readers especially those who are thinking 'does she ever stop whinging'. This is a transcript of an email sent to somebody who is restructuring a house in Umbria and who is experiencing all the same problems as every other investor of a 'do up' here. I don't know anything about copyright laws but I do know that it's one of the funniest articles I have read so here it is: "THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE. Just a word of caution. Don't expect miracles and be pleasantly surprised if anything like 'divine intervention' occurs. The biggest source of frustration/angst/anger amongst many who embark on the renovation escapade is that they try to impose Northern European timetables. There are many lovely aspects to Italy - timetabling or working in 'concert' is not one of them. I know that you are anxious to finish and quite logically cannot see why, by your own standards of production and hard work, this will not be achieved ... Ma siamo in Italia. I don't want to dash your hopes but you can save yourselves a huge amount of angst by realising that everything happens here, just not to a timetable that any known cosmic forces could predict. But when in the not-too distant future you sit watching the sun go down with a glass of vino in hand, it will be all part of life's rich tapestry. I am not known for my patience and so Italy has been good for me; lowered my blood pressure because the forces are too strong to push against (though I do). It is survival: face the inevitable or die: pour another glass of Sagrantino ... Amen." It's good to know that we are part of a bigger 'family'.

Alessandro the sandblaster and Dean our little helper

The brothers from Kosovo finished putting the roof on the new house and then went home for three weeks to celebrate a wedding (one of their own) and so far only two have returned; the groom has remained for a further 15 days. Anyway the returning two are to recommence work on the new house tomorrow. I can't say that we haven't enjoyed some peace whilst they were away. We've only had half a labour force but things have really started to develop. The old pizza/bread oven has been demolished and has virtually been rebuilt as the new pool house.

Kristian, the plumber and Adriano, builder

Adino, Il Capo and Michele, his son

And so the builders, plumbers, sandblasters and anybody else who continues to work during the month of August forge ahead and in terms of visible progress the development has been remarkable. We are starting to look at the plans for the swimming pool which have been laid to rest for two years and as is normal when things have progressed so far and we have had to accommodate all the changes resulting from new ideas, new building regs and unforseen nasties, it no longer fits in the grand picture. So hey ho, we have to think again; a bit more stress, a few more arguments but we always manage to turn it around. There is a wonderful saying I live by: NOTHING CAN WITHSTAND THE FORCE OF SUSTAINED THINKING and it's true, nothing can.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dogblog August


People with dogs are drawn to people with dogs which is how we met Maureen and Windsor at a house party in Gualdo. When the conversation gravitates towards 'our babies' and we start sharing anecdotes and photographs there's no stopping us. No risk of boredom setting in with this topic; it's our favourite. Unlike the 'Doting Mothers and their Children' party bores, doggy people don't go in for one-up-manship but marvel and coo at the antics of any dumb creature. And so we were invited to supper and to meet 'ELLA' Maureen and Windsor's 3 year old Bernese babe. And she is a babe. Whereas our boys are cumbersome and awkward and always look like rugby players after a scrum, Ella is elegant and serene and manages a pose without trying. Not that she doesn't have all the same traits as any boisterous young pup, as Maureen says, "she is an accomplished thief". Trophies include emery boards, a couple of pairs of reading glasses, workmens' tools and current favourite, gardening gloves. Nearly acquired, but sadly caught red-handed, a pair of binoculars. It's just that I see her more as a David Niven in the Pink Panther and not the typecast 'bungling thieves' more befitting Monte and Giorgio. Anyway, Ella has featured in a book "The Southern Bernese Year Book 2007/2008" so what about that for stardom! I'm wondering if there is a publication called "I Cani da Pastore Maremmano Abruzzese" which might like to feature my ever so slightly unhinged boys.

The Lady

and the Tramp

Now this could easily be one of my boys ~ Monte I think, knicknamed 'The Scruffian' ~ but it isn't. This is RAMBO. If ever there was a misnomer it was this one. RAMBO no no no. Chaplin, Scruffy, Bonzo, Scooby Do, Mutley but not RAMBO. I don't know him very well so maybe beneath the informal tie and the waistcoat lies a Baskervillian temperament but I can't see it myself. Rambo belongs to some Italian friends; he's a guard dog!!

Monte ~ our little 'Scruffian' grows more handsome by the day. He has a freckly nose ~ his kissy spot and boy does he get kissed. My husband minds that his nose is always 'rosy' from lipstick, Monte doesn't!

The boys are inseparable. They are separated, sometimes for a few short minutes if I walk them individually from the house out to their pen. If I don't return within minutes for the second one, frenzied barking and howling sets up from both quarters and there is nothing I can do to suppress it until both dogs are reunited. I've never experienced anything quite like this before but then we've never had two pups together from the same litter. I met a woman at the Vet's who told me she had rescued two hunting dogs, obviously brothers, and that they too are inseparable. And also, like our two they will run off given the chance so she came up with a cunning plan which, so far has proven to be very effective. Our situation is that the dogs have their own shed (for shed read semi furnished apartment) contained within a pen, when they are not living in the house with us. This woman, not having the benefit of a contained area has to tie the dogs up when they are outside which restricts their freedom somewhat. She is not happy about it, and I suspect, neither are the dogs. So, taking advantage of the fact that one dog will not go anywhere without the other, she ties up only one dog and allows the other the freedom of the garden and alternates them each day. Now, I'm thinking, could this work for us. I'm going to try it. Success or disaster? Find out next month.

Blacky has become 'one of the boys' and has moved into the new apartment and pen with Monte and Giorgio. He has the benefit of a cat hatch cut into the door of the pen so he can come and go as he pleases. He favours Giorgio and has to sleep next to him. Either one will always have one paw reaching over the other. What's that all about ~ adoration, domination, protection? Whatever, we couldn't have a more amicable trio.

About Me

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