Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A trip to San Remo

On Monday we had a day out in San Remo on the Ligurian coast, about two and a half hours drive from here. We diced with death along the coastal motorway as we sped through tunnels, over bridges and round hairpin bends before joining the coast road into San Remo where we battled with hundreds of mopeds making their way to the beach.

We went to San Remo to meet up with Anne, the lady who taught us Italian in the UK. She used to work in San Remo and visits on holiday a couple of times a year. It was lovely to catch up with her and we had an enormous lunch (with a particularly large helping of tiramisu) before exploring the town. We also had a stroll along the seafront and stopped for a well deserved drink in a bar with a fantastic view across the bay.

San Remo is on the Riviera dei Fiori and is famous for it's flowers which thrive in the mild climate. The surrounding hillsides are scattered with greenhouses where all manner of flowers are grown & exported across Europe. We had been looking for some flowers for a couple of people so it was an ideal opportunity to buy some really nice ones.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fai Da Te

We decided to have a go at a spot of Fai Da Te (DIY) today which involved attacking the render on the outside of our house. The builder had previously told us that the stonework wouldn't be good enough to expose but we decided his idea of rustic stonework and ours weren't necessarily the same! We didn't do a great deal and decided to stick to the bottom section of the wall for the time being but it looks like it will clean up OK and be fine when it's been pointed.

Whilst up at the house we also met our neighbour! He chugged past on his tractor with his two dogs so we attempted to introduce ourselves. Our Italian is very poor but our Piemontese is none existent so the conversation was stilted to say the least. We did manage to understand that he was just popping down the hill in his tractor and when he returned would we like to go for a coffee, difficult to refuse really! Half an hour later his tractor chugged back past the house and he waved for us to follow him. His wife also spoke no English and we clearly spoke no Piemontese and only basic Italian but the coffee was very nice, we saw photos of all the family and we gleaned that he was 85, had a dodgy leg and had fought in the war, the rest of the conversation was unfortunately lost on us! I think we need a crash course in Piemontese before we see them again!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dogs, cats, kittens...

Yesterday we were both feeling a bit down but today has reminded us why we decided to move here. We met with Franco who is the estate agent we are renting our next property through, I hasten to add he's nothing like estate agents we've had dealings with in the UK! Last time we met him we bombed around the countryside at great speed in his battered Suzuki jeep looking at properties to rent but it was essential that we stopped at 10.30 as he couldn't go on without his morning coffee! He was also more than happy to offer assistance and advice regarding anything else and we didn't even purchase our Italian property through his agency. Today he was just as pleasant and our conversation struggled along in a mixture of Italian and English (not that much Italian from us unfortunately). He drove us up to the rustico on the hillside just outside Cortemilia that we will be renting where we met with Stefano, Isabella, two of the five children, two dogs, a cat and a tiny kitten. They were all lovely and so friendly. Again we struggled along, part Italian, part English while we talked about the rental, what we did, why we were moving to Italy and various other things, an hour and a half in total by the time we'd chatted and finished our coffee. We also met with the current occupants of the rustico who leave at the end of the month, a dutch couple who lived in Spain, worked in Germany and had bought a house in Gorzegno, not far from our house! They are hoping to move to Italy permanently next year.

We also picked up some information while in Cortemilia about the 52nd Sagra della Nocciola (Festival of the Hazlenut) which takes place during the last week in August. There seems to be lots going on so we must try and go one day, after all we will soon be living on a hazlenut farm that produces hazlenut cakes and biscuits!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

We’ve Arrived!

This Blog is about our relocation to the Langhe region of Piemonte in northern Italy. I hope it will be an opportunity to capture our experiences, our highs and lows, the places we visit, the food & wine we sample and the people we meet.

We first visited the Langhe in May 2005 and after several visits over the following months we found a house in September of the same year. We finally purchased the house in January 2006 and just over a week ago we said farewell to our friends and family in the UK and myself, my husband Andy and our two cats, Cleo & Myrtle, moved out to begin our new life. Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple as the house we’ve bought is not currently habitable and is unlikely to be for sometime (due to lack of water, gas, electricity, drainage etc) so we are currently staying in a Cascina near Cossano Belbo before moving to a piccolo rustico (small stone house) just outside Cortemilia where we will hopefully remain until we can move into our new house ‘Il Papavero’.

Our new home is situated in the Levice Commune with fantastic views across the Bormida valley and only a short drive from Cortemilia. As you can see from the photo it needs quite a bit of work and some tlc but we hope to transform the first floor into our home and the ground floor into two holiday apartments that we will rent out. We were thrilled yesterday to receive the news that our plans had been approved by the Commune so it is now a matter of finalising details with a builder before work can commence.