Living in Italy

August 22, 2008 16 comments

The house ‘immersed in greenery’ as they say here

Italy has been our home for 12 years now, and the house in the photo for most of that time. This blog documents the joys and problems of our existence day by day. We have our own intrinsic difficulties. My husband, Clive, is disabled and I am partly so through a scoliosis. We have no family but are great dog-lovers, and aim to give our dogs a high quality life.


I love living here. Clive is more circumspect. The very earliest entries in this blog are by him and reveal a different attitude. Maybe, by reading about our daily life, you will be able to tell whose view is the more accurate. Does the pleasure outweigh the pain? Or will my writing betray a less rose-tinted reality?


You can also see the books we’ve written and published by clicking on the image below:


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Patience of Job

February 8, 2016 Leave a comment
Help-meets on my desk

Help-meets on my desk

A week ago we were promised that tomorrow Clive would be given a bed and a hoist to help him get away from the sofa where he’s lain now for almost six months.

This morning, seeing as we hadn’t heard anything, I phoned the technician who made the promise.

“Ah. I had it in mind to phone you. It won’t be this week, but maybe next. I’ll phone you tomorrow with a new date.”

I don’t know what a statue of Job would look like, but my Buddha paperweight exudes an air of calm and my ‘worry sheep’ offers its compressible body to be squeezed in moments of frustration.

A few things are rooting for us.

Spring indoors

February 7, 2016 Leave a comment
A new shoot

A new shoot

Our grown-from-a-pip grapefruit tree didn’t get its normal summer airing last year.

Which is a shame, because it probably looks forward to getting the stove ash blown off its leaves and exchanging one sort of parasite for another.

It doesn’t seem to have disheartened it, though.

We’ve given up on it producing any flowers let alone fruit, but there’s still a tremendous life-force in it giving rise to little shoots like the one in the photo.

Spring has happened indoors ahead of outdoors.

Galileo mystery dog

February 6, 2016 Leave a comment
An inscrutable Galileo

An inscrutable Galileo

Galileo will only go out of the house during daylight hours if he’s accompanied. By which I mean the human being only has to be just out of doors, and he will then range widely, sometimes several hundred yards.

Night-time, however, is a totally different matter. He clamours to be let out well after dark, sometimes in the wee small hours, and then disappears entirely for half an hour or so before clamouring to come in again.

Last night it was obvious he had company. He and one other were making strange yipping noises although I couldn’t tell if they were playing or fighting.

I shot outside with a torch to see if he’d caught a hare, or was squaring off with a cat, or was gambolling with a wild boar piglet prior to being gored by its mother. Or, indeed, had joined up with another midnight-wandering dog.

I never saw anything. The torch illuminated vegetation and a rather self-satisfied-looking Galileo zipping back to the house where I shut him in a bit smartish.

But I did hear an animal of some description go all the way up the hill making little sounds to itself at intervals.

I called to it in a soothing voice, wondering if it was wounded, but it paid no attention and melted away into the night.

Today the neighbour phoned. She had no idea what it could have been either, but confirmed my thought that it wasn’t a lady friend seeking the unneutered Galileo. Juliet would never come around after Romeo.

All I can do is keep a careful watch out tonight.

Stirrer in a wine glass

February 5, 2016 Leave a comment
The first bud to open

The first leaf bud to open

Pruning a tree, I find, is all-consuming. I walk round it, trying to see how to give it balance and grace.

In Italy, pretty much all fruit trees are trained to the wine glass shape, variously described also as vase, goblet, or open centre shaped.

It’s a truly lovely shape, as well as being practical for the tree (allowing light and air to pass through) and for fruit-picking.

The Reinette du Canada apple tree in the picture has a long trunk and ambitions to be tall, but year by year it’s being made more wine glass shaped and accessible.

It has a defiant air, though, somewhat accentuated by the little tuft of leaves – unique in the whole orchard at this time – sticking up above the rest of the tree like a flag. Or a stirrer in a wine glass!

It got trimmed, of course.

Sticky patch

February 4, 2016 Leave a comment
The patch of snowy land

The patch of snowy land

Leaning out of the kitchen window this morning looking at the sprinkle of snow on the mountains, I caught sight of a strange patch of white.

For some reason the snow has stuck on one piece of land and nowhere else.

It looks like a plot of coppiced woodland, but why would the snow stick there and not on woodland proper, or pasture, or ploughland?

It must be something to do with the exact texture of the terrain, or the temperature of the ground as governed by the texture.

Intriguing, though.


Apple blossom in miniature

February 3, 2016 Leave a comment
White montbresia inflorescence

White montbretia inflorescence

When the white montbretia at the front of the house looked like it was taking over the flowerbed, I was dismayed.

I thought it was boring, colourless and much less attractive than the grape hyacinths it was displacing.

Anyway last summer’s drought pinned it back, but a couple of days ago I noticed it was just creeping into flower.

I had a close-up lens on my camera at the time so I photographed it – and it’s so pretty! Like tiny sprigs of fruit blossom complete with pink-and-yellow stamens.

It’s a reminder of what there is to look forward to in a month or so’s time.

Flower of the moment

February 2, 2016 Leave a comment
One open, one closed

One open, one closed

One of the good things about pruning is treading on a carpet of speedwell.

It grows round the boles of the trees where we put cow manure so maybe it was introduced by it – or just likes it.

The open flower in the photo – Common Field-Speedwell – was the last one in the patch to close before dusk yesterday.

Like Scarlet Pimpernel, speedwell is supposed to predict the weather. Apparently it closes when it’s going to rain the next day, but I find it difficult to see how such a long reach is possible, especially since it closes for the night in between.

I think it must be more a flower of the moment.