Living in Italy

August 22, 2008 16 comments

The house ‘immersed in greenery’ as they say here

Italy has been our home for more than 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 difficulties. My husband, Clive, is permanently disabled. In addition, he recently spent 9 months in French hospitals recovering first from a coma and then from an operation to remove a massive bowel tumour. He’s just finished a course of chemotherapy at home, and is learning to walk again.


Some of our difficulties derive from where we live, but I still love living here. Clive is more circumspect. By reading about our daily life, perhaps 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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Scent of broom

May 4, 2016 Leave a comment
In among the scented broom

In among the scented broom

The scent from a particular kind of small-flowered broom wafts up in great waves from the magic valley to the house – an all-enveloping, extremely pleasant blend of pineapple and orange.

Giovanni, emerging like a moving tree from the undergrowth, is taking a bundle of branches and brushwood through the midst of the yellow-flowered bushes to the bonfire site.

Raspberry flowers

May 3, 2016 Leave a comment
A bumblebee well dug in

A bumblebee well dug in

Of all the flowers you’d expect to be ignored by bees, they’re the seemingly scentless, underdeveloped little colourless things that develop into raspberries.

But the bumblebees are all over them. No other flowers seem to hold such an attraction.

All this pollinating activity will hopefully result in some nice plump raspberries.

New view

May 2, 2016 Leave a comment
Clive's new view

Clive’s new view

We had a big reorganisation today.

Clive’s hospital-style bed, instead of being in front of the stove, is now in the next-door room adjacent to a bathroom.

He will sit there of a morning, writing on his laptop.

I’m quite envious. He has one of the best downstairs views, of roses and peach trees with Mount Subasio beyond.

Snapdragon pest

May 1, 2016 Leave a comment
Cutworm inside a snapdragon

Cutworm inside a snapdragon

I spotted this caterpillar peeping out of a snapdragon.

It had the air of a pest but I gave it the benefit of the doubt while I endeavoured to identify it.

If I’m right, it’s a cutworm and certainly not something to leave loose on your snapdragons.

So I went back and found it, curled up deep in the throat of the flower, and then had a good look at it under the microscope while Clive blocked its strenuous attempts at escape.

Juniper bonfire

April 30, 2016 Leave a comment
Orange flames and blue berries

Orange flames and blue berries

Giovanni cut down a couple of dead, unsightly juniper bushes on the hillside today.

They were so dry they burnt instantly.

Here the flames are just beginning to lick through the twigs with their brown needles and heavy crop of shrivelled blue berries.

Tent caterpillars

April 29, 2016 Leave a comment
Tent caterpillars on a cherry twig

Tent caterpillars on a cherry twig

I took this photo two years ago of a whole tent (or web) of caterpillars.

It seems they like cherry trees.

The ones I set aside from yesterday are still alive and weaving their own new web around and around the box I’ve confined them to.

Rain on my parade

April 28, 2016 2 comments
Tent caterpillar photographed through my microscope

Tent caterpillar photographed through my microscope

It wasn’t exactly a parade, Giovanni and me walking through the orchard applying the post-flower spray, but the rain timed itself perfectly: first spots as we finished the mixture.

So that was that. All washed off.

However, we discovered some extremely lively tent caterpillars on a cherry twig as we went by.

Also, when I looked through my new microscope (advance birthday present from Clive) at aphids pre-spray and post-spray, there was a definite air of lethargy about the latter.

The spray takes a lot longer than the half hour or so it had to take proper effect, but maybe we did do some good.