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July 25, 2010

The Cats

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 4:01 pm

We thought you would all like an update on the progress of the cats.  This is a little difficult as we only seem to see them at meal times and sometimes not even then.  Anyhow, here goes!

 Above is ‘Alfie’ or more formally Alfonso. He does not require formality of any sort he is just a very friendly young man who is anyones for the price of a bowl of cat food.  He is not as smart as his sister but he always aims to be first whenever there are good things to be had.  Unfortunately we have a lots of cats around the village and he has the scars now of a few good fights already.  But we cannot understand why anyone would pick on Alfie, he is so cute, flashing those blue eyes at you!  He had been flashing them at few local pussys too but now he has been ‘done’ as they say.  The next door neighbour thinks we have taken away his manhood and made him ‘femmina’ but he is still all guy to us.

Mean, Moody and Magnificent

 

Above you can see Caramella, sometimes called ‘Fudgie’.  This portrait captures her precisely.  At a distance she seems small soft, delicate and very cuddly.  However, this is one hell of a lady to deal with!!  If she ever comes near, and you sure want her too, then watch out because if you have any designs to pick her up and play ‘cutsie-cutsie’ with her then she is capable of reaking havoc and mayhem; she is just not that kind of a cat.  She has had to survive being the smallest in her litter, and she knows how to look after herself, with those sharp claws and scream to make your blood curdle. Caramella also knows how to be naughty and is definately smarter than the average pussy, always seeming to know what is going on or if there is something amiss.  At the house we used to have lots of lovely colourful lizards but ‘purtroppo’ not anymore.

That look of hers is serious and means business, you had better take her seriously she is not a girl to be messed around with.  However just occassionaly she will play with her favourite bit of ribbon and then come and sit on your lap for a while – well for 2 minutes anyway.

 

July 18, 2010

Pinocchio

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 2:50 pm

Do you remember the old Walt Disney movies? Well, my favourite film was always Pinocchio (1940) even though I remember being quite frightened by the story as a child, especially when he got swallowed by the whale!  Roberto Benigni also made a good ‘life like’ version a few years ago in 2002.  The author of the story was Carlo Lorenzini Collodi.  He was born in Florence but his mother was from the village of Collodi near Pescia where she worked in the Villa Garzoni there. 

The Villa Garzoni is a fabulous house with a grand terraced garden that cascades down the hillside into the lower village with the ‘Parco di Pinocchio’  which is very popular with children as you can imagine.  There is also a giant, rather bizarre, Pinocchio statue here as well.  There are many souvenir shops here selling all sorts of colourful versions of Pinocchio puppets

The Villa and gardens are a great sight to see.  Hannah Gordon I remember did the final of Watercolour Challenge (do you remember that!!) here a while ago, so beautiful it is. The old village sits atop the house, tumbling down the hill; the houses funnelling down steeply like stones falling into the rear walls of the Villa Garzoni.  Exploring the terraced gardens here you can imagine how the lords and ladies on the Grand Tour of Europe found their ideas for their country houses in England.

The old village is a very pretty place to explore, though you need the ankles and calves of a mule to wander it’s streets. Lots of terraced streets with flower pots and colourful beds, and a very nice way to spend a sunny afternoon…….searching for the blue fairy of course.

July 11, 2010

Two ways to eat well in Vellano

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 1:23 pm

There are two ways to eat well here.  Firstly to grow your own food; here at Casa Verde the fruits of our early labour are appearing, including our first aubergine (melanzana) seen here on our terrace.  Plenty of courgettes (zucchini) and also our first cucumber(cetrieolo).

The other way to eat, slightly more expensive but less time consuming, is to go to a restaurant.  Here in Vellano we have a splendid new one called ‘Bistrot’.  We have been a few times with friends and it is a few minutes walk down the lane.  The food is straightforward and Italian but delicious, not expensive but home made.  The hosts are fantastic too, Serena is the grocers daughter after all!! 

July 4, 2010

Breakfast at Casa Verde

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 6:27 pm

Front of the house - Colazione

We have had a few visitors recently and it has been warming up here in Vellano, and so we have offered to our guests some breakfast with a few breathtaking views as well. 

It now seems a long time since we first arrived and opened up the house but we have achieved so much.  We planted out our first 2 vegetable beds in the middle of May (a little late we thought) but now at the beginning of July we have now eaten our first courgettes (zucchini) and are days away from the first tomatoes ripening (you had to wait till August in the UK at least).  The aubergines are going well along with onions, cucmber and lots and lots of fresh herbs.  In future years we hope to have many terraces of food to eat and be, at least from May to November, self sufficient in fruit and vegetables.

Food is so important to the Italian culture.  We thought we would get bored with Pasta and salads and vegetables after a while but the taste of fresh food and the huge variations you make with an apparently repeated number of foods is wonderful.  Then there is the al fresco dining with evening candle light, and the fireflies that are still sparkling in the trees to alight warm sultry evenings.  Mind there are a few bugs coming out with them!!

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