Posts Tagged ‘Photographs’

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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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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Another Sort of Twitter


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

It’s that time of year again.

The time of year when I have to try, but usually fail, to keep my cool as I ask people to please, please, please LEAVE BABY BIRDS WHERE YOU FIND THEM!

It’s the great irony of human nature that vast numbers of human beings plod through life utterly oblivious to the life cycles of the creatures with which they share their ecosystem; unable even to name the most common of the feathered songsters that provide the soundtrack to our daily lives; clueless as to the whys or wherefores of their frenetic springtime activities.

And yet, upon coming across a newly fledged emergent sitting around minding its own business waiting for mum or dad to bring it a worm or a seed or a wriggly insect or two, an ornithological expert is miraculously born.

So year after year I am forced to watch, as the undoubtedly well-meaning but indisputably ignorant, cart baby wrens, house martins, great tits, sparrows and the rest off to a future where their chances of survival have been slashed from already-fraught-but-at-least-mum-and-dad-have-got-my-back, to nil.

Sure enough, within a few days of being force-fed unnatural food in a highly stressful and unnatural environment, a small feathered corpse will be winging its way to a nearby dumpster.

Having verbally tussled with friends and neighbours on the subject – and got precisely nowhere – I was sad but resigned when some local girls brought me my very own little sparrow just a few days ago.

Beginning its numbered days...

Beginning its numbered days…

Two days of suet pellets, bits of dried mealworm and an assortment of seeds were not enough to appease the agitated mite, whose only goal was to get back to the place from which it had been “rescued” – an environment for which the basic rules of survival have been written into its DNA.

A stiff little body at the bottom of a poo-stained cardboard prison was the pitiful result.

Life is a bitch. Baby birds die – that’s why the adult birds tend to lay a clutch rather than a solitary egg – but their already slim chances of survival are vastly reduced by human interference, however well-intentioned.

So, at risk of making myself very unpopular, I shall continue to harp on to my friends and neighbours – urging them to by all means move exposed baby birds to the safety of a nearby bush or hidey-hole, but just not to take them home. Their parents will be looking out for them: they will run themselves ragged and tatty bringing food to their young until they are fully independent.

That’s what parents do, and nature should never be underestimated.

This is Status Viatoris, a soap box for every occasion and boy what a collection I have amassed over the years, in Italy.

Itchy Feet or Green Fingers


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

Yesterday morning, an Antipodean friend set off on the next leg of her Overseas Experience: for Tesni it was a case of Arrivederci Italia, and Здравствуйте Россия! (or Hello Russia, if on-line dictionaries can be relied on…).

Usually such a move undertaken by a third-party would have me salivating with jealousy – all those new experiences! A brand new language! The sheer foreignness of it all! I wanna go toooooooo!

This time, however, I find myself strangely unmoved.

Curious to hear about her adventures, yes. But not remotely desirous of experiencing them for myself.

Very odd indeed.

It appears that whilst my mind has been occupied with other things – a small souvenir shop, publishing books on Kindle (by the way, have you bought and/or reviewed An English Fandango yet??), attempting to rid myself of a Gallic real estate behemoth, translating a Kenyan travel website and settling into life with a toyboy – my itchy feet have been busy transforming themselves into something rather more akin to roots.

In brief, and much to my surprise, life in My Little Italian village is still doing a pretty good job at holding my usually mosquito-length attention span; even after three long years.

One clear indication that I might at long last be growing up, is my ever-increasing passion for balcony plant life. With the expert guidance of Mothership, I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time cooing over false shamrock and strawberries, chatting encouragingly to mint, chives, parsley and marjoram, and whispering sweet nothings to geraniums, thyme, oregano and rosemary.

Strawberries and friends

Strawberries and friends

I was ridiculously proud when the strawflowers overwintered, and racked with guilt when one of the fuchsias didn’t. Happiness was restored when I found twenty cockshafer larvae in the bottom of one pot, and abruptly torn away again when I read about the damage those little critters are capable of inflicting.


Fuchsia mark 2.

And so each new leaf, bud and flower is greeted with the surprised delight of one who is still not at all convinced of her plant-nurturing qualifications, nor her right-sort-of-wildlife identification skills.


A flowerful wall

Not being into purely ornamental flowers, my primary goal was to get the air a-buzzing with honey bees, bumble bees, hoverflies, butterflies and any other airborne creature of pollinatory inclinations.


Bee Corner

Other than the obvious advantages of providing me with an extremely fragrant outside space – lavender, thyme, chives and other flowering herbs being, apparently, what buzzy beasts like best – I am offered the added satisfaction of feeling that I am doing my best for the agriculturally beleaguered honey bee.


Wood sorrel attempting to distance itself from the disappointingly droopy basil plant next door…

With the assistance of a Friends of the Earth Bee Saver Kit, I have been able to choose the best plants for the job, and the helpfully provided pack of “bee-friendly” wild-flower seeds has been duly emptied into a hanging pot and molly coddled into sprouting fresh green shoots – indicative of exciting things to come.


The babiest of the three lavenders

Even Tigger has been called to action, and will soon begin his chosen task of building a nest box for solitary bees – much to the horror of our dear friend and next door neighbour, the lady mayoress, who is utterly convinced that we will all be stung into an early grave as soon as the last bit of bamboo is wedged into place.


Future wildflowers

All in all growing up is not half as bad as I had feared; and although pottering around plant pots in ones jim-jams at seven o’clock in the morning is not quite as glamorous as jetting off to Moscow, it seems to be suiting me just fine.

For now.

This is Status Viatoris, hoping to encourage all gardeners and plant pot owners to take the humbly honey bee into consideration when choosing their blooms, in Italy.

Ticking Along


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

As thrilled as you no doubt all were (cough, cough) to catch up with my news last week, I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be a few out there who are currently tapping their fingers, whilst muttering:

“Yes, yes. That’s all very well, but what about Pooch?”

And quite right too… What about me?

So you will be relieved to hear that Pooch is, well…. as Poochy, as ever.

Perhaps even more so on occasion.

He is also exceedingly relieved to have bid goodbye to the ghastly summer heat, which has been particularly punishing on a boy of nearly twelve, and which has led to the fur on each knobbly little elbow being rubbed into extinction by hours spent lolling dolefully on unforgiving floor tiles.

Too much embarrassing personal information, Mummy!

And it would appear that floor tiles and arthriticky hips are also a ill-advised partnership; all of which meant that by the time the temperatures began to descend to more manageable levels, our dear Pooch was quite reduced to a hobbly, panty, bald-in-patches shadow of his former self.

But despite his previously palpable misery, a couple of cooler weeks was all it took to get Mummy’s Little Soldier back to his irrepressible best.

Just the memory is enough to make me feel faint. Dash and get me another snacklet to perk me up, Mummy, there’s a poppet.

As wonderfully joyful and bouncy as he is, the fact that Pooch will be twelve this December is  never far from my mind. And being that I am one of Life’s worriers-about-every-wee-thing, I have for a while now been prone to panic at the slightest limp, sneeze or shake of his head.

Other than regular exercise, food supplements and eventually medication, I have been assured that there is absolutely nothing further I can do to ease the path of the arthriticky hips.

The squidgy lumps that have sprung up hither and thither are apparently harmless fatty lipoma, and the milky eyes are a result age-related lenticular sclerosis – aka nothing serious.

But there was no getting away from the fact that sooner or later there would be SOMETHING, and after a routine heart scan I was finally given the news I have been dreading since February 2001 when this amazing little creature became part of my life.

Pooch has a myocardial tumour.


Taking cells for a biopsy would be a risky procedure in itself, and even if it was discovered to be cancerous, removing a tumour from a dog’s heart is not an option. Chemotherapy is also known to have little or no effect on this sort of growth.

And anyway, the scans do seem to indicate that the tumour is a benign fibroma.

Pooch is currently showing very few symptoms other than a bit of a cough and slightly raised blood pressure, so hopefully the progression of this hateful mass will be slow.

But progress it eventually will; affecting his heart and lung function, with the obviously fatal consequences.

Having to come to terms with the irrefutable evidence that my beloved dog is not going to live forever, or even as long as I had started to hope given the astounding longevity of some of the local hounds, is ridiculously hard.

But I mustn’t let my sadness impinge on his right to the happiest life possible, so fingers crossed he puts the recent frenzy of hugging down to his ever-increasing cutesy wootsiness, and not my desperation to hold him close for as long as I still can.

This is Status Viatoris, hoping that the cardiologist appointment in six-month’s time indicates a less than speedy decline, in Italy.

A Bit of Everything…


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

…is what has been keeping me from SVing for the last month and a half.

What’s that?

You want me to be more specific?

I can’t.

Honestly, it really has all been down to A Bit of Everything.

Or to give it its true title: “In po’ de tütu” – AKA… my new shop!

MINE! Lock, stock, barrel (rent, taxes, stress, responsibility, success, failure) and all.

Now you must believe me when I say that this is absolutely not how I envisaged things going when I was called in to run Ci Vuole over the summer months.

No, the best I could hope for then was to be able to make it enough of a success to tempt the owner to stay open for another year – thus keeping me out of trouble on a part-time basis whilst providing regular-ish dollops of dosh to keep Pooch and me in bonios and focaccia.

But in typical SV fashion, taking over and re-opening the entire enterprise was something I decided to do after seriously considering it for about, oh, twenty minutes.

A Little Bit of Everything cheerfully muddled up together!

Because although those summer weeks indicated that with the right stock, the shop had the potential to be quite a hit, it was also apparent that even if it did work, it was unlikely ever to be in a position of offering enough income for two people.

So upon noticing the owner’s waning interest – which clashed uncomfortably with my gut feeling that both the shop itself and the village really deserved at least twelve months of hard work before its fate was decided – I made what may yet prove to be one of the rashest decisions of my life…

An exciting collection of smellies!

Ci Vuole, during the short months it was open, had dealt principally in antique furniture; not a particular hit with the locals, who all have cantine bursting with roba vecchia (“old stuff” as they scathingly refer to it); although a popular port of call for incomers wishing to furnish their village purchases with authentic pieces.

Thus the “usato” part of the trade triumvirate will stay on but in a slightly reduced format – the larger pieces remaining in their current owners’ houses and cantine, whilst their photos do the sweet-talking from a home-made catalogue that will be found in the shop.

Evil small-boy magnets used to part parents from hard-earned cash…

The “regali” are the small gift ideas that are so far finding favour with pretty much everyone, be they native or otherwise.

Relatively inexpensive smellies, jewellery, scarves, children’s toys, old-fashioned wooden games, decorations, greetings cards and Halloween (soon to be Xmas) items from Italy, the UK and Germany are just some of the products that the village seemed to be in need of.

Not forgetting the artistic contributions from local seamstresses, potters, painters, basket-makers and carpenters amongst others; whose talent is providing many of the wonderfully original and sometimes quirky items that help to make In po’ de tütu such a fun place to come for a pongle.

Postcards nestling in their home-made (ex-draining rack) display case.

The souvenir side of things has positively juggernauted since I asked for your help in putting together a postcard collection.

There is now a selection of books about the area, cds from the local polyphonic singing groups and instrumental bands, hand-painted aprons, maps, tourist guides, 2013 photographic calendars, pens, bags and possibly even umbrellas if I ever get around to it…

No chance of any visitor to the village escaping without purchasing some little knick-knack or other to keep memories of their stay alive!

Preparations for a chestnut festival that never was – snow (of all things!) stopped play.

Unfortunately the plan to stock some local produce – olives, honey, jams, dried tomatoes in oil and bottles of olive oil has had to be abandoned along the way, as a month-long (and rather expensive) course in food handling would need to be undertaken in order to sell even ready-packaged edibles.

But as food is one thing this village has never lacked, I’m sure my little offerings will not be too sadly missed.

The English Book Swap! Take one and leave one, or take one and make a donation to UNICEF!

So in a chestnut shell, this has so far been a hugely fun, vastly terrifying and terribly exciting journey through the initial trials of shopkeepery.

I have absolutely no idea what is waiting around the corner, but whatever it is, I am definitely looking forward to all the challenges the project will undoubtedly bring.

This is Status Viatoris, preparing to try a bit of everything in order to make this venture a success, in Italy.

Apartment SOLD in Sainte Agnès (06)


Yes, you’ve guessed it – my lovely French apartment is still for sale.

A Sainte Agnès chat enjoying the view…

No doubt the current financial climate is partly responsible, although I can’t help but feel that the resolute uselessness of my French estate agent (second only in ineptitude and arrogance to my French Notary – AKA Supercilious Turd) may also be playing an important role in the lack of interested parties.

So I turn, once again, to Status Viatoris readers in the hope that somebody somewhere may know someone who knows someone who may be dreaming of a new life in a simply spectacular little French mountain village.

Sainte Agnès – ProvenceAlpesCôte d’Azur

Sainte Agnès is perched on the flank of a mountain, 750m above the Mediterranean at its highest point. Although only 3 km from the coast as the crow flies, by car it is reached via a mountain road with spectacular panoramic views that winds its way up the 9km from Menton at the eastern end of the French Riviera. Due to its unique position, Sainte Agnès enjoys the title of ‘Highest Coastal Village in Europe’, in 1997 becoming a member of the association ‘Les plus beaux villages de France’ which includes 142 villages all chosen for the exceptional nature of their location, their cultural, historical, architectural or natural treasures exposed to the public in an attempt to highlight their importance and thus preserve them for future generations.

An ex-Sainte Agnès chien exhorting people to enjoy another sort of view…

The first record of the village was in 1185 as Sancta Agneta, and until 1258 was ruled by the Counts of Ventimille, when it fell under the power of the Counts of Provence. The most breathtaking views of the hills down to the Mediterranean and the surrounding coastline along to Italy to be found upon climbing to the 9th-century chateau, and its charming ‘Jardin Médiéval’ high above the village which by all accounts was built by the Saracen Prince Haroun, upon falling madly in love with a young Provençal girl.

Front door and stairs into my very typical atypical Sainte Agnès “maison de village”..

Although fully restored in 1502, the chateau is today in ruins. Some of the ancient walls remain, however, and their arrow slits evoke a strong feeling of what the extremely well placed defensive position may have been like in medieval times. Archaeological digs carried out on the site have unearthed at least 23 skeletons along with other artefacts, pointing to the area having be inhabited as far back at the Bronze Age and possibly even the Neolithic. The wonderful 360˚ vista was again brought into prominence in 1932 when the Fort Maginot de Sainte Agnès, was constructed as part of the Maginot Line. This contained an important concentration of artillery of which much is still in working order. The fort was never put to the test as the invaders decided to just go round it, although I have been told that a gun may once have been fired at the Italians.

The Sainte Agnès street onto which my front door opens!

Although the ‘commune’ of Sainte Agnès descends right into the Menton valley, the permanent population of the village itself is only about 90 people. Many of the village houses are 15th to 18th century, and have been divided and re-divided by family inheritance over many generations, making their layout rather hard to divine from the outside. The village offers three restaurants (two of which also double as bars) all with wonderful views over the hills and down to the coast. It also boasts three gift shops, and a very well stocked village ‘épicerie’.

Master Bedroom overlooking roofs to the hills beyond!

As well as the obvious charms offered by the close proximity of the Menton coast (9km); Italy (15km) Monaco (17km), Nice (25km) and the beautiful peaks of the Mercantour National Park are all within easy reach. The hiking route GR51, also known as the Balcony of the Cote D’Azur passes the village and can lead to you North East to the hamlet of Monti, East to the Italian border, South West to the village of Gorbio and West towards Nice. There are also a few quite hilly loop hikes from Sainte Agnes, including the glorious Mont Baudon, some using part of the GR51. Whilst walking these routes, you will no doubt notice the abundance of lavender, an integral part of one of the many village fêtes held during the summer months.

2nd Mezzanine bedroom

The apartment itself is about 80m², and was entirely renovated during 2005/6 having been uninhabited for at least a century. Built over two main levels, but with steps leading to and from most of the rooms, it comprises: 3 double bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 2 WC, 1 sitting room, 1 kitchen/dining room, 1 mezzanine storage area and a laundry room.

Sunny sitting room!

Due to the age and position of the property, it does not have any outside space – fairly typical of a medieval French village! – but the kitchen has large French windows opening onto a Juliet balcony, giving it a delightful alfresco feel.

Even sunnier kitchen/dining room!

So there we have it – a very special property in an even more special location that just needs to be united with that one special person who may not yet even know they are dreaming of it. In light of the current financial climate (and because I simply cannot afford to continue paying the mortgage indefinitely – the current rentee will soon be moving out) I am open to (reasonable) offers, especially those that come from somebody somewhere who knows someone who reads Status Viatoris…

(The property is currently advertised for 275,000€ but negotiation is extremely welcome and will certainly not be sniffed at…)

Typical Sainte Agnès “maison de village” stairs!

So please help me get this advert to go viral (whatever that means; I’m not up on the old techno-speak) in order to find a forever owner for the property I poured so much love into before circumstances changed the geographical direction of my wanderings…

Enquires to:

Thank you.

“Wish You Were Here!”


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

Dear Reader,

I am writing this post to solicit your help.

I know! What cheek!

Part of my current busyness (the self-same busyness that is keeping me from writing interesting blogs for your benefit as opposed to begging favours only of benefit to me, snicker snicker) requires me to choose some photographs of My Little Italian Village to be turned into postcards.

Now I must stress that this is not because I am a sought-after – or even particularly good – photographer, but simply because the postcard selection currently offered here is rather dire, and I feel like trying my luck.

(The fact that I am helping out at the little shop that is to stock said postcards is also instrumental in giving my unremarkable photographic skills a platform).

At present I only have exterior shots of the village to choose from, although I shall soon also be snapping my way around the picturesque little nooks and crannies of our cobbled streets, and from this selection I would like to choose five shots to be made into postcards – which is where you come in…

My Little Italian Village 1

My Little Italian Village 2

My Little Italian Village 3

My Little Italian Village 4

My Little Italian Village 5

My Little Italian Village 6

My Little Italian Village 7

My Little Italian Village 8

My Little Italian Village 9

My Little Italian Village 10

My Little Italian Village 11

My Little Italian Village 12

My Little Italian Village 13

My Little Italian Village 14

My Little Italian Village 15

My Little Italian Village 16

My Little Italian Village 17

My Little Italian Village 18

My Little Italian Village 19

My Little Italian Village 20

…for it is your opinion I require in order to make the selection.

So if each of you could write in with your likes/dislikes (and photography advice, which would be extremely grateful received) it will enable me to pick the final five to be sent to the printers early next week.

Many thanks in advance!

This is Status Viatoris, Ansel Adams she most certainly ain’t, but consoles herself with the thought that her efforts are no worse than those currently masquerading as attractive representations of our beautiful village, in Italy.

Entertaining The Three Musketeers


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


Much to Pooch’s disgust – a disgust he takes little pains to hide, I might add – our previously sedate morning walks have recently taken on a whole new element of excitement and adventure.


That in itself probably wouldn’t pose a problem for him, if it wasn’t for the fact that the reason for such change has come in the form of two dogs. And not just dogs, but the sort of dogs that Pooch abhors most of all – puppies.



Toy, an 11-month old Brittany spaniel and Diablo, a 5-month old something white and fluffy, belong to two good friends of mine who live in the same carruggio and whose work commitments do not allow for extensive canine trotty-wags during the week.

And as scooping the poop of three incontinent hounds as opposed to just the one really appealed to me, I offered to haul them along with us on our morning perambulation.

Solitary boy doing solitary boy stuff.

Once the initial daily chaos of trying to get them all into their respective harnesses and attached to their leads whilst the tiddlers make repeated attempts to kiss Pooch (who retaliates by trying to bite chunks from their fluffy little noses) and Diablo pees his happiness over everyone’s feet; we cross the road to the safety of the lane on the other side and the three sort-of amigos are then unleashed on an unprepared world.

More sociable boys hanging out.

An utterly hair-raising helter skelter down to the river – punctuated by the production, collection and subsequent disposal of steaming mounds – ensues, with The Musketeers occasionally sparing a millisecond to look behind them and check I’m still puffing along obediently in their mission-driven wake.

Thanks lads.

Slightly more convivial group sniffing.

On arrival at the wet stuff, Diablo jumps straight in for a swim whilst Pooch selects the ideal rock to lavish his un-dividable attention on and Toy nervously cases the joint for scary stuff (which I would then be required to protect him from if he were ever to run it to ground).

Yup! I’m stuck, again.

Having three such very different dogs in tow comes with its own problems as I learnt to my cost a couple of weeks ago on leaving the river, when him of the old cronky legs stumbled over a stone forcing him of the agile legs to soar clean over his head, thus knocking him of the stubby legs off a wall and down a 1.5 metre drop into some brambles.

A rather long silence followed as Pooch, Toy and I peered down at Diablo in his uncomfortable nest; with at least one of us wondering how on earth we were going to retrieve him.

Half dog, half springy mountain goat.

By lying on my stomach on the ledge and reaching down I couldn’t even touch the top of his head, much less haul him up by his harness which had been my plan.

But eventually he started bouncing up against the wall, and timing a lunge to coincide with a bounce, I finally managed to get him by the scruff and yank him to safety.

The boys heading off in search of adventure…

Diablo’s gratitude has since known no bounds, but has also had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing his confidence in my abilities to get him out of sticky situations. So it is that sliding down wet rocks, scrambling down muddy inclines and reaching into prickly undergrowth in order that accident-prone wee pup may continue on his waggy way have become an integral part of my morning escapades.

…and back they come!

Seeing the dogs enjoying themselves so much has definitely made it that bit harder to drag myself home from all the delights the Italian countryside has to offer. What used to be a perfectly respectable 45 minute to an hour’s start to my morning routine, has now morphed into two hours and probably about 6 or 7 kilometres of japes so jolly that all those things I should really be hurrying home to get on with are quite forgotten.


Hopefully not dry-clean only!

But having always subscribed to the theory that over and above cuddles and treats, regularly walking your dog is the way to ensure its contentment and obedience (a dirty wet dog is almost always the happiest sort and a well-exercised dog is quite simply putty in one’s hands), it becomes surprisingly easy to put less pleasurable obligations clean out of my mind.

(Now that little confession is bound to go down a storm with the ever-responsible Mothership 😉 )

But even springy mountain goats sometimes lose their nerve and need a helping hand.

Nevertheless, little stubby legs of not-quite half a year and achy delicate legs of nearly twelve, cannot stomp on indefinitely; so eventually I turn my troops around to make their tired, damp but exceedingly cheerful way back towards the village.

On the home straight.

After a relaxing cappuccino at the bar, the knackered trio are more than happy to be reunited with their beds; leaving me to get on with the more onerous obligations of the day whilst basking in the glow of satisfaction resulting  from a job well done.

Exhaustion reigns.

This is Status Viatoris, who cannot actually think of a better start to her day than herding the Tre unruly Moschetierri round the surrounding countryside, in Italy.

Tiny Little Churches


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

May, in My Little Italian Village, brings us the chiesette (lit. little churches) in honour of La Madonna (the Virgin Mary), whose month it is according to the Roman Catholic calendar.

A large chiesetta.

The village and its surrounding countryside (and, indeed, most of Italy) is liberally festooned with small shrines to the various saints, all but the most central of which tend now to be left looking forlorn and neglected for much the time, bar the odd bunch of limp wildflowers gifted by a passing flock member.

A smaller chiesetta.

At the end of April, however, the small stone edifices in and around my village are briefly rescued from their state of abandonment with a profusion of flowers and statues of Maria, together with clusters of red church candles and sometimes even a typed or elaborately scribed prayer.

A roadside chiesetta.

Also tacked somewhere nearby will be a piece of paper with the time and date that the faithful should congregate at that particular chiesetta.

A temporary chiesetta.

Any carruggio (a world typically used in Liguria to mean narrow street, usually cobbled and impassable by motor-vehicles, and often with arches or parts of houses built overhead) in the village that does not already have a chiesetta but whose inhabitants wish to take part, simply uses a lace covered table or even cardboard box on which to perch their offerings.

Our chiesetta!

And then almost every afternoon or evening – depending on the distances involved in reaching the shrine – during the entire month of May, people gather at the chiesetta in question in order first to hear the local priest read mass, before reciting the rosary and singing hymns.

A proper chiesa…

Just another cultural oddity that makes My Little Italian Village special, and it is for that reason Pooch and I often drag our heathen arses along for the walk – even if we always decline to hang around long enough to hear the incantations…

…anyway, we reckon we get enough musical culture down the pub; listening to tipsy locals Acapellering their harmonious way through the dialect songs this region is famous for.

This is Status Viatoris, in no danger of being seduced to the “way” the “truth” or the “light” by the smell of incense, you will all be relieved to hear 😉 , in Italy.

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