Thursday, July 14, 2016
Extra Virgin - Annie Hawes
Another blogger, I think it was Danielle, mentioned this book. I'm a sucker for 'outsider moves to a place populated with colorful and opinionated locals' books, especially now that I've decided travel is too stressful. There's an interesting interview with Annie Hawes here. She's certainly one for adventure.
I'm not quite sure when she bought the property in San Pietro, Liguria, Italy. The book was copyrighted in 2001 and she says or implies that she's been there about 15 years. She and her sister work in London for months at a time to earn money to come back and live in Italy for the rest of the year. They gradually make improvements to the property, in Italy called 'Adjustments'. The locals feel sorry for them because they don't have their own men to do things for them. So the locals pitch in.
As they get to know the dialect and the people, they form friendships, hear the gossip, find out about rivalries between people and villages, and learn local traditions and superstitions. Only do certain work on olive trees at certain times of the moon. Many things are done because that's the way they've always been done. When new ideas are introduced, they're often rejected as silly. They have readily accepted motorized vehicles to travel up and down the steep hills, though.
Food plays a big part, whether it's the way the people insist on eating it (no sliced tomatoes, only chunked tomatoes!) or drinking wine, only their own wine, of course. There's rumor that wine bought in stores isn't made with grapes! Never drink that stuff! If you don't eat the right food, at the right times, in the right way, your digestion will be compromised. Annie and her sister shake their heads.
There is a drought, the well runs dry, then the well is pumped dry by someone who thinks he's bought the rights to it. There's a forest fire. There are dances and walks to cool pools in the summer. The locals teach them how to forage for greens and mushrooms, although there are disagreements about which mushrooms are safe to eat.
I feel like I've been to the Italian hill villages without moving from my comfy chair. Yes, that's the way to travel.