With our friends Cisca and Johan we went to Manziana to see the yearly chestnut-festival where the inhabitants play a medieval scenery. And of course, you can eat roasted chestnuts which I love!
Here we go: the other town claiming to be the center of Italy (remember Narni?): Rieti! The capital of the province of Rieti (who would have thought)...
Full of Italian graffiti which is just so much more full of passion and emotions than anywhere else: "Scusa x come mi comporto, ma credimi, ti amo! Senza te non so stare!" ("Forgive me how I behave but believe me, I love you! Without you I cannot be!" - Never trust an Italian!!)
With my friend Tine who was visiting we drove to Greccio, a little village in the hills with a sanctuary of St. Francis of Assisi. Very lovely and religious place.
Visiting Perugia had been really interesting for me because I had lived and studied here for a month in my early 20s (back then when I was young and 10 pounds lighter).
There was a gluten free festival going on so we decided to go (I had been gluten free since my mid twenties when I discovered that I felt worlds better without it). We went to all the places I still remembered. Perugia is a lovely medieval town with an international university.
No, it is not the fantasy world Narnia, but the allegedly center of Italy: Narni. Allegedly because there is also another town supposed to be the center of Italy: Rieti. But I don't want to argue here.
There is everything you could want for an ordinary little town in Narni: a castle, a fountain, a view point, and probably some history.
And also the above sign, but like I said, who can be sure if it's true...
It's summer. It's hot. And the beach at least 80 km away. What's a girl gotta do? Drive to the nearest lakes! Lago del Salto and Lago del Turano are two beautiful lakes in the province of Rieti, and invite for a refreshing jump into the aquamarine waters...
Some of our guests, a family from Holland, came to us and said they had found a severely injured dog on the road. So of course we hopped into our car and went to have a look.
The dog was in really bad shape, and to be honest, I thought he was about to die. He didn't seem to have had an accident, but he was simply laying there, in bad condition, the fur full of parasites, and very very thin.
We took him to the next vet, expecting that he would put him down.
But he didn't. He said the dog most likely had a virus which caused his skin lesions and hair loss, and intestinal issues. He probably was a shepherd's dog but when he got sick, the people tried to get rid of him. That is how they do it here in Italy unfortunately. Our good friends Marta and her family have adopted and take care of about 14 stray dogs.
So we got medicine and took the dog home. What else to do. The children of the family who found him called him Mr. Waffles, and so we lived and tried our best to help Mr. Waffles in his misery.
We injected him his medicine, and slowly he found back his appetite, and was soon eating huge amounts of rice and dog food. But still, he remained the saddest looking dog in the world. We also had to put him on a chain in our garden because he otherwise would have escaped. He once did, and we were looking everywhere until our neighbors called us a few days later saying that they had found him. To be honest, I thought he just wanted to get away to die in peace.
We tried our best for several weeks, but he just didn't get better (he also was quite old already). So in the end we went to another vet, who was shocked that his other colleague hadn't put him down already. He said the dog was just suffering and there was nothing that could be done for him. He put him down, and we cried but knew it was better for Mr. Waffles.
Soon after my arrival in Italy, William introduced me to his dear friend Adele. He had told me before about her, an older lady in her 70's living on her own in the countryside in a little house, having her own little garden, and eager to have a chat. I imagined a sweet Italian lady.
I didn't expect - Adele!
She is a sweet Italian woman but far from a lady! People might say she doesn't have all her marbles, but I would say she is wonderfully eccentric and such a lovely and genuine soul. She does live on her own piece of land, very proudly, in a house that is not much more than a shed. But she makes the best out of it, and is so proud of everything she has, and loves to share whatever she has.
William and some friends even organised a little car for her in the past. She doesn't get much of a pension, and gets little to no support from her sons, but she is one of the happiest persons you can imagine.
In the beginning she was a bit upset about me, because she was in love with William (erm, well what to do!) but we soon got along well, and I helped her gardening and planting her vegetables, and in return she made us pasta and a strange kind of cake.
So in April 2012 I moved to Italy. To Cottanello, a VERY small VERY old medieval village in the Sabine Hills of Latium, 70 km North of Rome. Why here!? Because William lives here.
So how is life in a village where the average age of the inhabitants is around 84 years? Well, it is quiet. VERY quiet. Like, if you have adrenal fatigue, this could be the place for you!
The old folks spend their days sitting on benches having a chat, drinking coffee at the bar, and... well, that's about it. But it is very sweet. It is like a big elderly home where everybody looks after each other.
On the other hand they also work hard, chopping wood for the winter, harvesting the veggies from their garden and the olives in November. Due to a big underground reservoir it is actually one of the greenest regions of Europe, with green lush hills and fields everywhere.
Our house is a bit outside of the actual town walls. Most of the houses are empty these days because many people left the villages in this area to move to the cities for work. There are supposed to be still 5-600 inhabitants here. I think I counted 40 maybe, haha.
In fact, when I arrived, William made it a game to teach me the names of the villagers. He was asking me randomly at dinner time: "What's the name of the mother of the supermarket owner? Who is the best friend of our neighbor Liliana?" and so on. William knows them all, he is quite the opposite of me, being super social and outgoing and loving to chat with everybody, despite his super limited Italian. So now I am acting more as his translator.
They actually started to build a swimming pool here but nobody knows if it will be finished because the plan was to teach the students from the local school how to swim (most people here can't swim since they have never left the region to go to the sea) - but now they are planning to shut down the school - too little kids around.
I am helping William at the moment with his business of renting out holiday houses in the area. So we sit in our living room at our laptops and put up photos and descriptions of houses, or we drive around to houses which the owners would like to have rented out, take photos and put it all up.
Quiet tranquil life.