Posts Tagged ‘Ceriana’

Alchemy of the Vine


(tardy) Weary Wanderings for Wednesdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

The steady stream of gifts – flowers, eggs, courgettes, tomatoes, basil, peaches, figs, cucumbers and apples forthcoming from my self-sufficient and incredibly generous neighbours is slowly giving way to bunch upon bunch of grapes.

Every day I pass people lugging huge great containers of the fruit from their campagne to their cantine, and that can mean only one thing; it’s wine-making time!

Having already sampled a bottle of homemade rosé, obtained through one of my bartering exercises, and rejoiced in its fresh-tasting hangoverlessness, I was intrigued to find out more about what was involved in the elaboration of this local elixir.

My camera and I were invited into the cantina of the local retired schoolmarm, for a step by step lesson in how to transform the humble uva into that sumptuous nectar, vino.

Step 1: The…

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Stuffing the Hollow Legs


Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

It never ceases to astound me just how much food the Italians (and the Spanish, and the French) can pack away, and still not be beset by the obesity issues that so trouble some Anglo-Saxon countries.

I spent a truly delightful evening in the company of my neighbours and some of their friends a few nights ago, but had to practically roll myself home afterwards. The combination of a five course meal (FIVE courses on a TUESDAY!) accompanied by five different sorts of alcohol ensuring that the following day passed in a cumbersome blur of post-overindulgence.

Accompanied by copious amounts of red wine, we began with anti-pasti; stuffed courgette flowers (fiori riempiti), courgette quiche and spinach (ge in dialect) quiche.

Followed by pasta; pappardelle (very wide tagliatelle) with anchovies, tomato, mint, basil, garlic and…

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Dancing and Singing and Stuff


Memories for Mondays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

In the run-up to the Very Last Festa of the Season (to which barely anyone came because the evenings are now on the chilly side and everyone is a little festered out after all the summer shenanigans) there have been a few evenings of note.

There was the night procession from the village to one of the churches a way up the hill. Despite being dyed-in-the-wool atheists, Pooch and I are always up for a walk and so had every intention of joining the group and hoping that nobody would ask us to recite a Hail Mary or indulge in idle theological chit-chat.

However, once we discovered that this 2km walk would take nearly three hours one way, due to the pauses for prayer and a sing-song at every little shrine along the way; and that even when…

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Bon Cumpleannu a Cheli du ’92


Flashback Friday

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

At 6 o’clock this morning, after a night punctuated by the bat thumping round her box like a stroppy adolescent, the dog padding incessantly back and forth from the sofa to his water bowl and odd snatches of half-sleep where I dreamt that my pillow was covered in spiders, my room was full of people and from which I eerily woke myself laughing, I just gave in and got up.

And this is the bewildering sight that met my eyes…

Whoopee! I’m Always Up for a Bit of Anarchy

But What Can It Possibly Mean?

The Thot Plickens…

The Mayor! (apparently I don’t warrant a mention even though it’s my street too, sob)

The intrigue was exacerbated by the fact that all this unexpected graffiti was in dialect, rendering most of it incomprehensible to me.

So, unable to…

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Doing the Piazza Rock


Weary Wanderings for Wednesdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

The village festa season seems to be suffering from a few fits and starts this year, if reports of last year’s back to back parties in the piazza are to be believed.

A few weeks ago it kicked off with a night of somewhat eclectic musical tastes from the live band. Old style waltzes and paso dobles, so beloved of gentlefolk ‘d’un certain âge’ in villages the length and breadth of France, and apparently also Italy, joined forces with 80’s rock anthems and 60’s ballads, with the odd Latin American ditty thrown in for added piquancy.

Excessive amounts of beer and constant urging from my Argentine neighbour had me up on the dance floor for much of the night, but even my efforts could not compare with the star of the evening. He must have been ninety if…

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Pooch’s Pool


Tired Old Tales for Thursdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Pooch is wilting.

This despite the fact that for the first two years of his life he lived in a country where the summer temperatures overshot 40ºc on a regular basis.

Throughout the day he flops like a moribund fish from the sofa to the cool tiled floor under my bed and back again, with his tongue hanging limply round his ankles and a look of mournful dejection on his face.

I would feel more sorry for him if it wasn’t for the fact that he also periodically throws himself into his outside bed to roast his remaining brain cell in full sunlight.

The high point of both our days are our walks down to the river, where Pooch swims around in hot pursuit of water skaters and stones whilst  I sit on a rock watching the dragonflies…

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To Old Friends


Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays.

Status Viatoris

One of the most uplifting sights that greets me on my way home from work, rain or shine, is that of the local village ladies out for their afternoon leg stretch.

Even the springiest of these particular chickens is probably pushing eighty, and I am not even going to guess how many seasons some of the others have seen come and go.

Cardies or shawls over blouses, skirts just below the knee, woollen socks over legs bandied by age, and sensible shoes (sometimes even Wellington boots) are the order of the day; the perfect get-up for a leisurely promenade with lifelong friends.

I pass them, sometimes miles from the village, gazing out over the valley. One or other of them will be gesticulating, the others nodding as they stare towards a faraway point.

I wonder what they’re actually seeing. The countryside as it is now, or is their minds’ eye…

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Mental trotty-wags


Memories for Mondays – originally posted on 26/04/2010

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I fall a little more in love with this village every time I walk around it.

During the first few weeks I was obsessed with getting out; fixated by the idea that Pooch couldn’t possibly be happy unless he was off the lead, and galumphing merrily round the countryside. But due to the fact that it isn’t an easy village to leave – most of the promising footpaths turn out to be someone’s driveway – and during the week I simply don’t have time to trek for half an hour before even sniffing freedom, Pooch and I have been spending a lot of time exploring the innards of our new metropolis.

Frankly, when viewed from the outside, the place looks like a bit of a mess. Not half as asthetically pleasing as my French village.

Close your eyes and picture, if you will, a sort of Daliesque symbiosis between the innermost workings of Heath Robinson’s mind and the balcony scene from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. Then picture the whole unwieldy caboodle clinging with palpable desperation to the steep side of a valley.

Now add the very busy little river that runs along the valley bottom, and the myriad of tiny tributaries that course underneath and around its walls as they made their own busy way to the aforementioned busy river.

Every so often, just for the hell of it, pop an ancient and cobbled humpback bridge dating as far back as medieval times over one of the many waterways. Don’t venerate them, or announce their presence with a fanfare,  just use them same way they have been used for many hundreds of years.

Interspersed with the bridges, you might try adding an abandoned watermill or two; the pitted mill stones still waiting patiently for a consignment of olives to squeeze the life out of.

And as you are mentally wheezing your way up and down its steep streets, don’t forget to keep peering either side of you. You don’t want to miss the narrow and endlessly winding steps tempting you up and tempting you down; luring you deeper into its honeycomb centre.

Now imagine a huddle of churches, oratories and towers all cozied up together on the site of a Apollonian temple built by the Romans. The oldest part of the construction dating back to the 11th century, the newest, a mere 250-year-old stripling. Together providing the perfect play area for a noisy family of kestrels that are enjoying what the faithful have long since abandoned in favour of the more modern edifice up the road.

To the whole image, add the deafening cacophony of mating frogs (it’s that time of year, the lucky lucky bastards😉 ) an occasional Mexican wave of howling from the village dogs, the flatulent squeals of scooters and three-wheeled ‘bees’, and the soothing ever-present vocals of the locals.

You’ve arrived! Welcome to my life!

This is Status Viatoris, waxing lyrical on the subject of her new Italian village.

A Hearty Dose of ‘Vita Italiana’


Tired Old Tales for Thursdays time again…

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Walking around my new Italian village, is turning out to be very like walking around my old French village. Only rather more so. The choice of directions in which to strike out is endless, the choice of gradient, however, slightly more restricting.

You can either go up a very very steep hill, or down a very very steep hill. Simple as that. And always keeping in mind that by selecting the downhill option, you are only putting off the inevitable. The trophy for Miss Buns of Steel 2010 is certain to be mine. In fact, is that applause I hear? So soon! But I haven’t even prepared my speech! Ah. No. It’s just the thumping of a panicky heart straining to pump blood round a body built more for reclining in a comfy spot elbow deep in a…

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Vini vidi vici. Or not?


It’s Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays time!

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Thus far, my Italian plans have all been sliding rather uncannily into place, too uncannily to allow for complete peace of mind. The cynic inside me (the one who has been getting steadily louder and more insistent with the passing years) can’t help but wonder what the Fates have up their sleeves in revenge for this ease of passage. Their dastardly plans will be revealed in due course, of that I feel only too sure.

Having chosen to move to Liguria, the region of Italy that is just over the border from my French home in the Alpes Maritimes, I set to job searching as soon as I returned from New Zealand. Now Italy is not an easy place to find work, as I was well aware, and was therefore unsurprised at finding only one suitable job offer…

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