This time of the year is lovely in Italy. The intense heat of July has faded slightly but it is still very warm in the daytime. Eating outside is a pleasure under our pergola carpeted with passion flowers and our solar fountain tinkling in the background.
The sagra season is still in full swing and we went to a sagra in a neighbouring village last Thursday where we danced to a fantastic 70s/80s group. This year we have been well entertained in our village. We had the sagra dello gnoccho at the beginning of the month, followed by the annual village supper (€15 a head for 5 courses, wine and coffee), then the next evening an amateur dramatic group from Gualdo Tadino performed a farce with a Christmas setting (amazing that the participants managed to cope in evening temperatures of around 28°C muffled up in winter clothes). I persuaded my husband to come as his grasp of Italian isn’t too good, but to his surprise he enjoyed it and followed the humour because it was farce. Finally, this weekend we had a degustation and wine tasting followed by the most fabulous jazz singing by Pieve’s very own professional artiste Eleonora Bianchini who even when studying in the US, found time to be in Pieve for August to be with her family.
As I mentioned before, we are in the countryside and so we are more aware, than someone, for example, living in a town or city, of the wildlife just from what we see in our garden. It is interesting to compare and contrast with the UK. Here we see, unfortunately, dead badgers on the roadside; hedgehogs, and more recently foxes. The other day we had a rain storm and I was in the basement looking out of the window when I saw a pair of ears I took to be a cat, however, on closer scrutiny it turned out to be a very bedraggled fox. They are quite a bit smaller than the English fox and look very sweet. Lucky for the Italian gardener they don’t seem to have wild rabbits as such, but there are hares. Each year we have been here, one seems to have managed to squeeze through the fence or gate and made itself at home in the garden. My husband not wanting to lose veggies from the veggy plot has spent many a half hour chasing it around the garden trying to get it to leave.
Talking about chasing things, the other day he moved a planter from the back balcony to the front, unknowingly giving a ride to a lizard. These are cheeky chappies who run and chase each other around the garden and are completely harmless but we don’t like them indoors as they can disappear and die of thirst or starvation, we have found the odd body in the basement (when they must have zipped in when the door was open). So it was quite a surprise to find one in the bedroom. The husband then had to set to and catch it – much fun with the lizard escaping from the cloth thrown on it and jettisoning its tail. He was eventually put outside (lizard not husband)! A few weeks ago we had spotted a tiny one under the skirting board in the kitchen (no idea where it came from) and despite taking off the skirting board, it seemed to have completely disappeared. However, the same day of finding the one in the bedroom, a larger one (was it the baby now grown?) appeared in the kitchen. When the husband went to trap it, it shot into our carpet sweeper (you know the sort like granny had but we bought it in Lidl). So that was easy to use to transport it outside, but the mystery remains, was this the baby and had he been living inside the carpet sweeper for a few weeks unknown to us or had he been in the planter with the other one?
Other wildlife we have seen in our garden are: hoopoes, woodpeckers, blue tits, great tits, jays, magpies, various finches, wrens, sparrows, black birds, black squirrel, grass snakes (they get very excited about the green hosepipe!). Fortunately we haven’t had a porcupine in the garden as they love rhizomes and can demolish an iris bed in no time at all.
Well, we have lived here for 10 years now, but all good things must come to an end and we feel we need to move back to the UK to be nearer to family – our daughter is now settled into a relationship and a wedding is on the horizon. We aren’t getting any younger and find the garden and house is getting too big for us. It was wonderful to move here from a small bungalow to a spacious light and airy house with a basement where we’ve had parties, dancing and games (you could roller skate round it - it’s so big). The garden has provided us with produce and lots of jars of preserves from the fruit trees, but it’s time for something more manageable...