Archive for October, 2010

90 minutes driving to buy a sage plant.

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

vivaio burrone
Some days ago we took advantage of  dry day to drive across to Norcera Umbra in Umbria to visit the a Gran Burrone Nursery (view from the nursery above). We went with Pam from Tavernelle along with their Dutch neighbours Debbie and Jack (all keen plant collectors). We had bought a plant from this nursery at a garden festival some months before and as they specialised in aromatic plants we had said “Oh, we should try and go to see it”.
vivaio burrone
Norcera Umbra is up in the Apenines and unfortunately is famous as the town that was most badly damaged in the 1997 earthquake when Assisi was also badly damaged. Finding Nocera Umbra was easy but without the TomTom it would have been  impossible to find the nursery as it was some kilometres outside the town and driving down the steep, gravel, mud and badly rutted road made me wonder if we would be able to get out once we had got in.

The nursery was in a stunning setting but looked slightly ramshackle. However, the place didn’t disappoint as the owners were really knowledgeable and were happy to walk round with us talking about their plants which were mostly lavenders, sages and cistus. Needless to say we bought a few plants on the basis that if they can survive the hot summers and cold winters of Norcera Umbra then the plants won’t have a problem in San Giorgio or Tavernelle.

For lunch we went to the a trattoria called the “Vecchia Flamminia” in Nocera Umbra. It was recommended by the people in the nursery but as we looked like sophisticated diners they warned us that it was a simple place but serving good food. And so it was. The Italian equivalent of a working mens cafe. However, bacon and eggs were not on the menu. Instead we had first courses of lasagne, and canneloni made with meat wrapped in cabbage leaves and baked in a cheese sauce. For the second course we had turkey with lemon, turkey breast stuffed with spinach, stuffed peppers, fried fish. All this plus a bottle of wine, water and cheerful service came to 8 euros each.

The sages, cistus and lavenders we bought are now in the slopes of “Dingly Dell” ready in the coming year to add colour, smell and more importantly stopping the soil from slipping.  


Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Immigration is a big political and social issue here in the Marche. A report published this week says that there are now 5 million immigrants in italy – almost 7% of the population. In the Marche emigrants form 10% of the population.

In 2002 there were 54,000 emigrants in the Marche. In 2009 there were 131,000 and 2009 155,000. The data also shows that 55% of the emigrants are from Europe primarily Romania and Albania, 25% from Africa, 14% from Asia and 7% from South America.

Here in San Giorgio we have emigrants from Poland, Ukraine, Albania, Morocco and last but not least from England and Northern Ireland.

They make a fine couple

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

bavarian men

Occasionally we receive a postcard that is worth keeping. We have a very select collection of cards with couples. The ones we really like are framed and put on the bathroom wall. The current card sent to us by Erica and Thomas from Munich falls into the “framed and hung on the bathroom wall” category.

Not sure if they choose it because we are beginning to look like the two men or because our dress sense was becoming similar to theirs – Bill does like to wear hats! Or do Erica and Thomas go in for cross-cultural dressing when they go back to Munich?


Thursday, October 28th, 2010


Every household in the Marche has been, or is being given a leaflet about their water supply. This is an attempt to encourage people to use tap water instead of buying bottled water.

Italy leads the world in the amount of bottled water drunk per person. In 1989 it was 47 litres per person and by 2006 it had risen to 194 litres per person. This meant that in 2006 12 billion litres of bottled water were drunk. The production of plastic bottles meant the emission of about 910,000 tons of CO2 into the environment.

A litre of tap water costs 0.0017 cents while a litre of bottled water costs 30 cents. This means an average family will spend 250 euros on bottled water but only 1.60 euros if they drink from the tap.

And the tap water is safe to drink according to the leaflet. The tap water, by law, has to be treated but leaving a jug of water to rest for a couple of hours in the fridge will improve the taste of the water.

The Hancock Terrace

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

hancock terrace

We had made a terrace outside the kitchen window and because it gets shade I had thought it would be easy to keep the grass growing and being so close to the house would never forget to water it. However either too much shade, bad soil, constant walking on it and me forgetting to water it meant that it looked very down at heel. So decided to go for gravel. Levelled the ground and added an edge and then the gravel. On the right hand side we have decided to put box as the lavender hedge was getting very woody. Hopefully Bill will be trimming the boxes into a lovely row of “box clouds”. Mike and Judy who were here when we started the work said they would buy us some of the box and so we have named the terrace in their honour.

Visit to Piobbico

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

piobbico visit

26th October and it is raining again. We have had wet weather most of the week. Yet only a few weeks ago we were having a beautiful Indian summer. On one sunny Sunday we went with Mike and Judy to Piobbico to see the costume museum. We parked in front of the “Crazy Bar” and then walked through the town to the Castle of the Brancheleoni family where a guided tour was to begin at 3.30. It began on time and apart from admiring the building itself we were able to see the museum of peasant life, the geological museum, the spelogy museum and also the costume museum. The costume museum has a collection of 17th century costumes which in the19th century were discovered in a crate behind a bookcase of the castle. The custumes are worth the price of the ticket.
piobbico costume museum
After the visit we wandered back to the car and decided to have a coffee in the Crazy Bar. Not much craziness going on but lots of elderly men playing cards over empty coffee cups.

Savings in the Co-op

Monday, October 18th, 2010


Went for our weekly shop to the “Iper Co-op”. Bought some groceries plus 3 cyclamen at 1.59 each. Went to the check out where we handed over our member’s card.

The women asked if we could pass her the 3 cyclamen first. She told us that for to-day only there was 20% of one “non-food” item of your choice. “Didn’t you see the notice?” she asked. “No” we replied. “Che peccato (what a shame)” she said “The offer is for today only. I bought a new washing machine this morning but all I can give you is 20% of one of the cyclamen”.

So we got a cyclamen for 1.29 euros. 

Italy does its bit.

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Watching channel 5 this morning they had a report on the Chilean miners getting to the surface. There was a round of applause from the television audience.

Then the presentor mentioned the fact that the miners had to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes after spending so much time underground. She then added that the sunglasses were made in Italy and so Italy had made its contribution to the rescue and called for another round of applause.

Escaping from San Giorgio

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

e79 road

Getting from San Giorgio across to Florence or to Rome by car is a pain. It takes so long as for a lot of the journey you are on single lane roads going over the Appenines where overtaking the lorries having to use the same route is dangerous. Twenty years ago they started to build a dual carriageway from Fano to Grosseto on the other coast. Work got so far and the stopped. Now the governors of Marche, Tuscany and Umbria have started to campaign for the road to be finished. A few weeks ago they held a well publicised sit-in in one of the tunnels. Since then they have been meeting the relevant ministers and insisting that they will continue to keep the issue in the public eye.

Who knows,perhaps in a few years we may be able to get to Sienna for coffee, Florence for lunch and home for tea.

iPhone survey

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

An iphone survey from an application called “what country” discovered that the words used to describe the UK are tea, weird sense of humour, football hooligans and rain. For Germany the words are beer, discipline and autobans. For Italy the words are pizza, mafia, pasta, scooters. The minister of tourism has passed the matter to her legal department to find out if it is possible to sue iphone for the slander. She prefers to think of Italy in terms of history, culture and style.

We asked Mike and Judy who are on holiday with us at the moment what words they would use to descibe Italy. Mike went for pasta, wine football, sun. Judy went for pasta, Italian men, wine, and again Italian men.