1 Aug 2013

Italy: cultivating the land

This is the land below the house and garden belonging to one of my sisters-in-law and her husband and it's one way to keep the grass short!

Most households have a mains water supply, although it's rationed in the dry season so many people pay to have a borehole drilled to tap into the natural springs deep in the ground.

Our brother-in-law has also built a terraced area over a huge tank and this is used to collect rain water  which is a much needed resource for watering the land devoted to fruit and vegetables.

This is the beginning of the water source high up in the mountains that eventually becomes our own means of a free water supply.  (It's a long time since we were energetic enough to climb up there in the days when we took friends on hiking expeditions)!

Our own house and land doesn't have mains water and we had to pay for an electricity supply to reach down to our house at the end of a lane.  As soon as we started growing anything on the land and when we were living there permanently we needed a reliable source of water on site rather than buying it from a tanker. It was costly to drill a borehole as the house and land is on solid rock and we had to hire a specialist team with a very strong drill.  (Before that we had hired a firm with a hammer drill that got stuck in the rock and we gave up the project for a while).  It was noisy work that took several days. We had to go down 200 metres before we struck the underground water supply where it was clean and pure and it was a very exciting time as the water gushed up.  A pipe was inserted and then an electric pump was installed and the well capped off.  The water supply gets pumped into a tank for domestic use.

We could have built a beautiful ornamental top over our well - this one is our nephew's, but instead there's just a place in the side drive pavement with access to the well pump.

One benefit of not having mains facilities is that no one else has built this far down the lane and, anyway, there are now restrictions on building works, particularly new builds from scratch. We are just on the border between the next commune so the houses further up the hill have mains facilities supplied by that council.  Below our bottom terrace is a small piece of land and it's always interesting to see what is being grown at different times of the year. People grow whatever produce and crops they can on these plots dotted around the locality.  Last year the neighbours were growing a cereal crop and sometimes this field is just grassed over and sheep graze there.  This last time we arrived to find that the family were growing vegetables - tomatoes, beans and potatoes and had a water tank installed to give them a small supply of water.  We still see tractors and trailers going by the house with containers of water to be used by those who are not on mains or when the mains water is turned off. Everyone has to be very resourceful, careful and very organised when it comes to using water and other utilities.


  1. Thanks for gorgeous pictures!

  2. Thank you for a really interesting post. Suzy x

  3. I want one of those lawn mowers, the living ones, and would i be allowed to pet the lawn mowers? love that beautiful well he built. this is amazing, seeing how much work went into getting water to your home. i bet it taste really good. i would like to see the waterfall, but the hiking for me is in the past

  4. Does your sister-in-law have any sheep she can spare? I'm getting too old too push a lawnmower around. I'm glad you were able to get your own well. We had to have a well drilled on the farm where I grew up -- fortunately we didn't live on rock. Thanks for the the interesting post on land use in your part of Italy. I enjoyed the waterfall that marks the beginning of your water supply.

  5. Really interesting about how you got your water supply - we may have to start boring down here soon if this hot weather continues. Love the lawn mowers - I expect that they end up in the freezer eventually - so double value.

    1. You are correct about the lambs and their eventual destination, Rosemary!

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  7. Very interesting, Linda... For someone like me --who has water easily acceptable to us through the community sewer-- we don't realize how hard some places have in order to get water... Guess we can be pretty spoiled here!!!!! We do pay for our water --but it isn't too much (about $15 a month or so)....

    George would probably love to have a couple of those animals here --which would keep our lawn 'mowed' ---so that he wouldn't have to do it!!!!!! ha ha


  8. hello
    les moutons comme tondeuse , j'y ai souvent penser , mais je crois que c'est beaucoup d'entretien
    et puis souvent , ils d├ębordent , ils mangent aussi les fleurs :::::
    toutes ces photos , nous font voir un petit bout de l'Italie
    bonnes vacances
    edith (iris) France

  9. We take our water supply so much for granted but it is such a precious commodity and your story about how difficult it is to get water to help grow crops and produce on the land shows how we should treat it with respect and conserve as much as we can:)

  10. What a fantastic post! I love the sheep mowers and the waterfall, the girl at the top looks like an angel!!! Yes, water is a commodity that we should never take for granted. xxxx

  11. How fascinating! I remember as a young girl many in the country living like this. I guess it still happens in the country, but not near towns and cities. I do believe the water in those well is tasty and good most often.

  12. We don't drink the water from the well as it's stored in a tank for general domestic and land use, but if it was drawn straight up without storing it you would find that it's clean and pure being so deep underground in channnels under the rock formation and coming from the mountain streams. We haven't had it analysed, but we know it's good water just the same as that from the mountain fountain source.

  13. Super photos,, Linda, and I know just what you mean about the frustrations and the care needed when you're not on mains water. I've lived for almost three-quarters of my life in houses without a mains supply., both as a child in Lancashire and for 40 years in the hills of Mid-wales. when it's your own well and you may go without if it runs dry, you never waste water. :-)


Thank you for your kind comment which is much appreciated. Have a lovely day.