Regular readers of my blog will know that each time we go over to the house in Italy we find plenty of work to keep us busy! We were there in April/May and indoors was just as we left it, of course, but you can imagine that's not true of the land around the house. The grass was once more a meadow and the trees and bushes were in need of drastic pruning. There's never enough time to do it all so the usual round of garden jobs continue.
The first thing to do was to call the man with the tractor and cutting machine to come and cut the grass. Fortunately he was able to come during the first few days of our stay. Despite the long grass I was keen to go out and collect the apples, walnuts and hazelnuts that were ready for gathering. We have two walnut trees and one hazelnut tree and there were plenty of nuts that had recently fallen to the ground.
A brother-in-law comes and looks after the grape vines on the pergola, but he's now experiencing serious health problems and has a lot to do keeping up with his own work on the land so we don't expect him to do anything except come when he can with my sister-in-law, keep an eye on the property and gather the grapes to put with his own to make some wine. This season some members of the family came to gather the grapes, but only gathered some of them because they found hornets had got there first. Also a section of the pergola on which the vines grow had collapsed. The time had come for us to make a decision about the vines especially as Mr P got stung by a hornet. Thankfully he quickly applied antihistamine cream on the sting, but he said it was very painful for days. Hornets can be very dangerous if you're allergic to their sting so they were a real worry. We decided to dismantle the pergola where it had fallen down and completely cut down the vines leaving only two or three table grape plants, including the strawberry grape vines, that have sentimental meaning for us, being the first vines planted when we were living permanently in the house.
Here are some photos of progress during the month's stay:-
Our organic Golden Delicious type apples - we had enough for our short time at the house and gave the rest to a niece who made apple pies with them. The windfalls were passed on to her father for the sheep.
The strawberry grapes were beginning to dry out and would have turned into raisins if left in the sun.
They were a tasty addition to my breakfast cereal of a few rice krispies along with some golden raisins and the walnuts that I gathered, cleaned and cracked open.
some of the walnuts and table grapes
The weather was perfect for airing linen, drying washing on the balcony whilst the neighbour with the tractor and cutter was able to mow the grass. From this angle on the balcony you can see how wild the oleander bushes and grape vines growing on the pergola had become since May when Mr P had done some pruning. It only takes some sun and rain for everything to become a jungle once more.
Taking down the pergola where it had collapsed, clearing the vine branches before cutting down the plants.
We had several bonfires after trimming the bay trees, front garden hedges and other green branches and that was actually good fun. After pruning the dry vine stems, fruit tree branches etc. they were stored for use in the wood burner. We didn't need to light fires, but we did so a couple of times just to make sure the central heating system was working and the chimneys were clear.
upstairs living room
There's an open fire facility in the downstairs kitchen which we don't usually light as the rooms here are for Summer use only. It throws out a lot of heat. You can just see the triangular trivet hanging on the brick wall in the fireplace. It's only an ornament now, but one like this would have been placed on the embers with a large pot for cooking stews or for cooking pasta.
I love the smell of wood smoke from indoor fires and bonfires during the early days of Autumn in Italy.
the pergola and flower bed finally cleared and tidy