I enjoy striking up conversation with strangers. You never know where it might lead. Yesterday we did our first shop down in the valley in Sansepolcro and I picked up a punnet of artichokes. I love eating them but haven’t ever prepared them myself. First, I asked a younger woman how to cook them. “They’re so fiddly,” she replied, “I don’t bother.” An older lady looked nervous when I started to ask her, but we parted great friends after she’d given me her method, a small crowd having gathered round in the meantime to chip in with their recommendations. So Italian! The artichokes turned out well, by the way and – yes – we’re back in Italia for our six-month Italian adventure.
It’s a shame when old traditions and methods are forgotten. What will happen when all our elderly friends finally say goodbye? Evelina, 90 now and poorly after an operation on her leg, wants desperately to return to her home village this summer. But she is in a wheel chair and her stone house is impractical for a disabled person. We will go and visit her occasionally down at the seaside where she moved many years ago for work. But it won’t be the same as sitting by her hearth up here in the mountains, listening to stories about our neighbourhood. A young couple has arrived up in Rofelle with the desire to live a simpler life. Let’s hope that Tommaso and Alessia will bring new ideas to our area. They’ve written about their new life away from the city in a fabulous book and, for those of you who read Italian, here is the link.
They write that they haven’t given up on technology and they are able to continue with their jobs they’ve studied so hard to achieve. They simply wanted to leave the frenetic city and find a new rhythm to their lives. It’s not an easier life they’ve chosen; not an idyll. They still have material problems, but they have elected for a simpler pace in the country to better understand themselves.
And they’ve managed to capture some amazing shots of animals – Maurice was tempted by their films and has bought himself a remote wild-life camera. He hopes to film wolves, wild boar and porcupines that wander along the river beneath our mill. Watch this space.
I realise I will sound like a brat, but I find it hard to adapt when we embark on our “transhumance” and leave the UK for six months. Our car is always laden to the roof with a variety of things that we seem to find necessary at the time: packets of tea, because Italian tea is too weak; cartons of books, because life without reading is unthinkable (and a Kindle is NOT the same, although I now own two); items for the house that we don’t really need, if we are honest; new walking boots; my writing paraphernalia; a chest of drawers and beautiful linen inherited from Maurice’s mamma; empty jars for our garden produce… and on and on. There wasn’t even room for a baguette when we stopped in France.
These two periods are so different and, although I miss my family and am a little homesick at first, it is good to have this change and switch to Italian mode. Life in our valley is very tranquil. There is no traffic, just the sound of the river, birdsong, the mewing calls from buzzards in the thermals and the occasional sharp bark from a roe deer in the woods. There is time to slow down or be busy with what we enjoy; time to write without interruption; time to get to know each other again. For, despite being together for more than forty years, there is still a lot to learn.
But first of all, we have to tame our rampant garden: weed the beds, mow the grass, plant out new schemes, prepare Il Mulino for our first guests arriving in two weeks’ time. Hopefully, the next photos will show a difference. Speak to you soon!