Yes today we have another Foodie Post – the ‘orto’ and the herb bed have certainly kept me busy this Summer and without wanting to resort to supermarket shopping over Winter we’ve been tucking a little something away every time we’ve had a rush of growth on our various plants. This week we’ve been picking … and pickling … our ‘peperoncini’.

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We may not have had the expected glut of zucchini that everyone warned us about, having put ten plants in the ground, but we have had a glut of zucchini flowers – luckily for us as we fried some the other week, at the suggestion of a friend, and are now addicted!

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We’ve not exactly embraced the twenty first century yet, with the purchase of a tractor and its various ‘atrezzi’ or attachments but we are now the proud owners of a hay baler! After a trip to our local ‘agricola’ (basically a store for all things ‘farmery’ selling everything from chestnut flour and plants to scary looking tools and enormous sacks of animal feed) we picked up some pallets for another job on our list, but added another four to the pile so Marcus could get all creative and finally retire his dustbin and gorilla tub.

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I’m only half a dozen pages into my Calendario Lunare book and I can safely say it’s not been my quickest of reads – I’ve managed a few pages of introduction and then a huge 82 page jump into July so I could see what I should have been doing at the end of last month and to basically tick off a very long list of everything I hadn’t done. The pages I’ve read so far are slowly filling up with scribbles of translation between the lines … and no, it’s not every word … so I’m definitely proving to myself that I have learnt a decent amount of Italian so far.

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Ok … so I’ve mentioned our wildlife recently and the fact that ‘cinghiale’ can be a bit terrifying when they are cornered (seriously, why would you corner a ‘cinghiale’?) or when the mums have a litter of babies following them (but they’re so small and stripy and cute I just want to pick one up and cuddle it!) At the same end of the ‘pericoloso’ spectrum, we have the occasional tale of ‘lupi’ (wolves) in the area – the newspapers have reported a pack of two or three causing a bit of mayhem in one of the nearby villages earlier this year – leaving a couple of sheep worse for wear.

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No I’ve not finally lost my grasp of the English language … plums are a big thing in our lives at the moment, literally falling at our feet from the trees at the back of the house. In fact one morning there were even a couple of fruits there to greet us on the step outside the caravan – there’s just no escape!

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The ‘orto’ is finally finished – fourteen, metre-wide beds, totalling 42 metres in length, all dug over to a spades depth. Every muscle I used for that digging flinches whenever I go anywhere near the tool shed now … how’s that for muscle memory!

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This recipe was given to us by our next door neighbour at the campsite on a recent visit to say ‘Ciao!’ … I say given to us, she quickly explained the ingredients and method off the top of her head as she darted between making coffees and heading outside to shoo her chickens off the terrace, and we hurriedly jotted down everything, hoping it would make sense when we got back home.

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With the weather having been a mixed bag of sun and rain this Spring, our fields have benefitted immensely and the wildflower meadows have now made way for metre high grasses. Beautiful to look at, especially when the winds blow through them, and Pipkin (yes, we’ve named our resident hare) loves to run through them and we can often just see the tops of his ears twitching as he finds a particularly tasty patch to stop at – but they really do need cutting (the grasses not Pipkin’s ears) if we are to get fresh green growth before the dryness of the Summer really hits us.

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On the 14th April 1796, Napoleon and his troops, having already been victorious at Montenotte, simultaneously attacked the Austrians and Piedmontese to continue their campaign in Italy. The Austrians were holding their position at Dego but after suffering 350 casualties and 1,500 men being taken prisoner by the French they were forced out as the French moved in to pillage the small town.

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