The renovation of the Rusticò is still in full swing, and scaffolding is also being erected around our house. Construction project number two: over the next three months our house will be transformed into an energy-neutral house; with a new, insulated roof, new windows, insulation plates on the outside walls and solar panels. While insulating our house was not immediately our topic when we moved to IT (we had not yet experienced winter and there was no energy crisis in any field or road), our great wish was to renovate the entire house from the outside. to paint. The great thing about this method of insulation is that the house is finished in a color of your choice. So two birds with one stone. We are so curious to see how the house will emerge from under the scaffolding. But first we go to anthracite (color of the insulation boards), white (color of the front plaster) and then finalmente the final color. The date is July 1, so exciting!
Four pairs of eyes stare at me completely glassy from the floor in our cleaning cupboard. A few days ago Nadia called me because she heard chirping in the fan: a litter! And now the young ones are ready to fly out, but they chose the wrong route, namely inward. One is frozen on his side and the other is completely still on his bottom and if you didn't know any better, you would think they were no longer alive. But I know from experience that they are often frozen with fear and I very carefully, with a cloth, pick one up. Fortunately, the initially limp body starts to make fluttering movements. I take it outside and place the little feathery ball high on a windowsill, so that our Maw, or any other predatory creature, cannot reach it. I do the same with the sister or brother who has now come back to life and is also starting to make flying movements. And then they fly out for the first time. The wonder of nature. How wonderful to be able to experience this.
Our tenants of the Mulino, Yvonne and Remmo, also have a special bird moment: on the terrace of the Mulino they discover a very special bird. It's also suspiciously tame. Yvonne uses her bird app to see what kind of special bird this is. This one is short and sweet: 100% canary. To be sure, I also ask our bird watcher and friend Hans van Oosterhout. He also reports that it is a canary. Well, someone somewhere is of course waiting at the open window until he comes back...
It's the beginning of June and they're already starting to apply the final plaster layer! How fast! On June 12, the last part, at the front of our house, will be plastered, but purtroppo, That evening we get a huge storm with an accompanying downpour, causing the plaster on that side to flow off a large part of the wall over our terrace and into the garden. The contractor is fantastic, they come immediately that evening to assess the damage and early the next morning there is a whole team that works hard to clean and rinse everything around the house. And then they just start plastering again. Sander also thinks it's a bit of luck. Because on that side of our house, the north side, the wall always suffers a lot from moisture, so the paint always tends to peel off there. Now our house is getting an extra layer on that side, as it were (the part that remained after the rain shower plus the new layer). Every disadvantage….
It is June 22 and well before the deadline, so the scaffolding is being removed. How wonderful: instead of looking at shelves, we can look outside again. And what nice light it is in the house. Our house will be further completed in the coming months. There will be two pergolas and our new windows will be installed in the autumn. These can be mounted from the inside, so scaffolding is not necessary. The outdoor taps and outdoor lighting are currently being replaced. Much of this is done with the help of our local ironsmith: Paolo. Cappoti (the insulation material that covers our walls) cannot simply be drilled. For example, a special iron construction is made for the sinks and outdoor taps that rests on the ground. Nice to mention, the white sink moved from our friends Pieter and Inke on Texel (a gift) to our house on Kerkstraat, then to our house on Regentesselaan in Baarn and now it 'hangs' in Italy. Replacing the outdoor taps is timed just right, because so far we have had 1 to 2 days of good rain every week, now the summer temperatures are also starting to arrive here and it is time to manually water trees and plants again. But what a difference from last year, when it was so dry and warm from the beginning of the year and we had to water every evening for months around this time. Now Pian del Nasso is still green even in July and the rivers are still babbling. Siamo fortunati.
In the meantime, Sander continues to work hard in the Rusticò. He tiles floors, makes window sills, installs the kitchen, paints, cleans and waxes the wooden beams, seals walls and also tidies up the garden from a construction site to a landscaped garden. I'm really proud of him. And it's so exciting, because we have one scadenza: The first guests arrive for the Rusticò on July 8…. (aiuto). But we think it will be beautiful. In the meantime, I try to ensure that everything runs smoothly at Pian del Nasso as much as possible. Mow the garden, paint the fences, take care of our guests and ensure that all items are ordered and delivered on time and all the administrative hassle involved. Very nice to be able to do that together again soon.
Your hour is approaching. We still have a week to go before the guests of the Rusticò arrive. What a stress, because the interior doors were delivered way too late and now they still have to be installed. The last thing you want is for guests to arrive and there are no doors in them, especially the bathrooms. The original plan was for Sander to install the doors himself, but the walls and frames are so crooked that he does not dare and calls for help from our door specialist. He lets us know that he is doing what he can to find an opening for us. But in the meantime we don't know whether that will work... (mama, mia what a stress). On Monday, July 3, we will receive the redeeming news: they will arrive on Wednesday! Normally installing a door takes about 20 minutes according to the door specialist, but with these 3 doors it takes him almost all day (the walls are not only crooked, but also crooked in some places: how rustic do you want it... and very wise that Sander did not dare). We are more than relieved when the doors are hanging. Yay! After a year of renovations, we can start furnishing the Rusticò! Nadia will come tomorrow at the end of the day with her associates to help us move. That is not an exaggerated luxury: our hall and conservatory are full of boxes and furniture and we can carry them all up the hill. But things turn out differently…
On Thursday afternoon, July 6, moving day (2 days before delivery), it starts to storm, pour and incredibly hail. Within half an hour, 20 cm of water falls. As suddenly as this storm arises, it is also gone again. The devastation he left behind però is significant. For example, there are holes in our garden cushion box because the hail went right through it. The garden, the swimming pool and the surrounding terrace are completely green, because they are covered with leaves that have blown from the trees. I always pray for a green Pian del Nasso (well: be careful what you wish for...). There is mud on the paths and around the Rusticò it is a water ballet (fortunately the Rustico itself has remained dry: the ultimate test). And we are very lucky, because in the surrounding villages and in fact from Turin to the coast, entire areas, including the famous wine region!, have been hit much worse. Do we have hailstones the size of chewing gum balls? In several places, hailstones ranging from the size of a ping-pong ball to a tennis ball fall, which, as in Cortemilia, prove to be very destructive to cars, but also to e.g. solar panels. Anyway, there's work to be done, rolling up our sleeves to make Pian del Nasso presentable again and especially the Rusticò. We have one day less and extra work. It means we can't move today, because it's impossible in that mud mess. I'm just about to text our guests in the Mulino to see how they are doing after the storm, if they arrive at all. Fortunately, everything appears to be going well with them and with the Mulino; just some water on the terrace (very relieved to hear) and so sweet: they want to help us! Wouter immediately calls out if we have a leaf blower and starts working around the pool and on the path between the Mulino and the pool. He also offers to help move the large furniture to the Rusticò the next day. We can say that without their help we would not have made it in time... Saturday July 8, exactly 3 minutes before the guests arrive, the Rusticò is ready.
Instead of getting ready for lunch with our neighbors Franca and Giampiero on Christmas Day, Sander has a bad case of the flu. There is nothing we can do other than unsubscribe. Also because our other neighbors Olga and Carlo, who are well over eighty, are there and we obviously don't want to light them. I'm already having nightmares about the enormous amount of food that our neighbors have prepared with so much care and are now left with. But nothing turns out to be further from the truth…. Around lunchtime the doorbell rings. Giampiero stands at the door with a bowl full of 'anti-pasti’ such as vitello tonnato, torta di verdura and bruchetta. It even includes table decorations in the shape of two holly plants and home-baked name cards! How thoughtful do you want it? And feel free to call it 'running lunch', because more courses follow at intervals; Giampiero brings a bowl full of steaming 'primi' consisting of lasagna and pasta with fungi and later the main course, 'il secondo' with different types of meat, vegetables and fried potatoes. And all by car, because they live more than a kilometer away from us. Finally, at the end of the afternoon we get a 'dolce' in the form of a grand dessert including nut cake, chocolate pudding and all kinds of petit fours. Who has such a luxurious Christmas lunch at home? And good! So sweet, so heartwarming! Grateful for our dear neighbors.
Bowls with the most delicious snacks follow each other
Homemade name cards
Even the table decoration has been thought of
While I am writing this blog, Sander is on his way to the Netherlands. Actually, the four of us were going. But because we receive so much positive feedback from our guests about the sleeping comfort in the Mulino and Cascina, we do not want to be inferior in the Rustico. That means a trip to our Dutch supplier for extra top deck and bedding. And that makes it impossible for me and our Bernese to travel with us, because it simply does not fit. And so it is that this morning on this cold winter day (-7 degrees) I feel 'princely wonderful'solo' nest in our sunny warm conservatory with a cup of coffee and Dasti and Noor at my feet, enjoying that beautiful view over our fields. With the winter sun outside, summer is already in the house.
As long as Sander and I have been in Italy, we have been amazed by the piles of stuff that you often see around the houses here. But what we find much more strange is the phenomenon that there are so many empty houses here, often with all the household furnishings of their great-great-grandparents, it seems, still in them. We also have such a house (feel free to call it a ruin) 'Flavio' with the furniture and tablecloths still visible. That is completely unthinkable in the Netherlands, especially with the current housing crisis. But now, with the renovation of the Rustico, a tip of the veil has been lifted as far as we are concerned. It turns out that it costs a fortune to properly dispose of bulky waste according to the rules. You can safely purchase a small new car for the amount of removing construction rubble for an average house. Or, as Nadia tells me, in Italy it almost costs more to dispose of a bag of cement than to purchase the same bag. Well, then you start looking at all those piles of stored things differently, and you suddenly see mountains of savings. Of course, Sander and I, true Dutchmen that we are (or is that 'woke' to write?), had everything disposed of properly according to the rules." The country's wise, the country's honor. 'But we need to recover slightly from this unexpected gross budget transfer.
Rustico renovation; with the mountain of construction rubble on the left
After removing the construction waste, the construction phase of the Rustico follows, which is accompanied by impressive lugging sessions up the hill. My husband transports 60 packs of floor tiles weighing 25 kilos in stages. Respect! And then he also has to lay them down. The latter is a typical Pippi L. case of 'I've never done it before, so I think I can do it'. On the other hand, it is certainly not the first time he has laid floors and I have more than confidence in him. We have not yet finished bringing up the tiles, because all kitchen/bathroom equipment and new furniture will follow. It will remain a continuous process, because once the season has started, a lot of linen packages will go back and forth. The good news is; We will certainly lose all the kilos of delicious food we can eat here in Italy.
Nearby we discovered a beautiful nature park 'Parco Adelasia' with various short and long walking routes. At the entrance to the park there is a mountain hut and restaurant, Cascina Miera (www.cascinamiera.it), accessible on foot (1 km, 10 minutes) where you can start or end your walk with a delicious culinary experience. You can also explore the park on horseback. Every Sunday, guided horse riding tours are organized by appointment (contact details are known to us). Definitely worth a visit.
For those who would like to receive more tips from the area or photos of Pian del Nasso, we can also be followed on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CohQcMQMNW0/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=
A thick layer of snow falls in early December. It gives the already unique silence here something magical: we are in a true winter wonderland. It is cold, yes, last night it was -8. But with the thermostat at a pretty nice 17 degrees and with the wood stove on, we are still pleasantly warm. The crackling of the fire and the view of that beautiful white world puts us in the Christmas spirit.
It appears to be a tradition, at least in our valley, that neighbors bring each other presents in the run-up to Christmas. We now have a whole pile of presents here (also from Holland) that we will open on Christmas Eve.
Of course, we also go out ourselves to buy and deliver presents. This week we are in a flower shop in Cairo Montenotte. It is chock full of Christmas arrangements and plants. Movement is actually impossible without knocking over something or stepping on something. A queue appears behind us all the way to the outside. We are lucky to have only one customer in front of us. The owner - like a true Italian - cannot be deterred from her (Christmas) piece. She takes all the time to advise her customer, occasionally dives under the counter to choose a nice ribbon and answers phone calls on the speaker (also very Italian!) in between. We wait quietly; piano, piano; it's Italy. But suddenly there appears la madre, well into her eighties, but clearly young enough to assist my daughter. She beckons us enthusiastically and we hand her the Amaryllis bulb we have selected. A suitable gift, we think, because the neighbors it is intended for only use natural products (so Christmas pieces with plastic balls or a huge Christmas cake with unhealthy ingredients are not the right choice for them). The Amaryllis bulb is expertly processed la madre wrapped in beautiful Christmas paper. My daughter, who seemed very concentrated on the Christmas piece for her customer, turns out to have an eye for what is happening next to her. This results in her taking 'our' Amaryllis bulb from her mother with the words: "scusami mamma, but these are Dutch people and they are used to a multitude of flowers and greenery, this is really not possible." We still shout “it's beautiful, don't do anything about it anymore” but our bulb has already been unpacked and is slowly disappearing between the Christmas branches that she attaches to the bulb with a glue gun. She also sticks pine cones on it and finally sprays the now gigantic Christmas piece with an anything-but-natural Christmas spray! … Sander and I look at each other, we praise mother and daughter exuberantly; “siete artiste” and rush to the garden center for flower bulbs for the upstairs neighbors. The Christmas piece is now on the table of our other neighbors.
With Christmas in sight, the end of the year is of course also approaching. A moment to look back at what has happened and been achieved. In January we expanded our family with Bernese Mountain Dog Noor. A 1.5 year search. Never before have we wanted two dogs, but here with all that space and the fact that our Dasti is getting a year older (we can't imagine not having a dog) makes us decide to look for a puppy. And what a party it is with those two. Dasti had to swallow, it wasn't love at first snout, but now there is nothing as wonderful as 'un abbraccio insieme'.
The beautiful season that started early in April with (returning) guests and also with the coming and going of family and friends. It is wonderful to share this beautiful, special place with others and to see everyone so visibly enjoying what is there.
We are very happy that we can finally start the renovation of the Rustico this year and add it to our range as a fully-fledged third holiday home from next year. Three to four people have been working non-stop since September and with results; the new roof is on it, the walls have been restored in pietra, the plumber has installed the new pipes and the electricity is largely ready. We are now in the finishing phase: plastering is taking place inside and then, as soon as the new windows have been installed, tiling can take place. It will be a picture in combination with that unique place on Pian del Nasso; on a hill overlooking the surrounding fields, the Rustico promises to provide our guests with unforgettable holiday moments.
We are very proud and happy that last month we were finally able to launch our new website, www.piandelnasso.com, with more user-friendliness when booking, an extensive description and display with current photos of the furnishings of our holiday homes and a lot of information about the nature and what there is to do on and near Pian del Nasso.
This Christmas we were invited again, together with our neighbors Gino, Carlo and Olga, by our dear neighbors Franca & Gianpiero for a delicious Christmas lunch. This will then be fasted again for days. We wish everyone from Pian del Nasso a very nice and merry Christmas and a great new year! See you in 2023!
To further develop our agriturismo, we will go in March to admire our lavender, which we ordered last year. There are many roads that lead to Rome and that apparently also applies to our garden nursery. The beautiful route with magnificent views, indicated by our navigation, suddenly changes from a considerable 'abbastanza' paved road in a kind of forest path full of craters and boulders that our car can barely drive over and, to enhance the survival factor, the road goes down fascinatingly steeply. Turning around on this narrow forest path is impossible. It makes me realize that if I had been on the Titanic at the time, I would probably have been the first to jump into a lifeboat, because I suddenly find myself, anti-socially enough, outside the car and noticeably continue on foot, while I watch Sander in the meantime. just let him plod along on his own. It is only thanks to him and his very good driving skills that he and the car finished after half an hour! reach the normal road without any wrinkles. And yes, such an adventure is also the charm of Italy!
At the nursery in Camerana we hear that our lavender plants have not started. This year it means no view of waving lavender fields. The journey is, però, not for nothing; we can purchase a variety of beautiful trees and shrubs. My grandfather's statement “tomorrow you will know what it is good for” becomes clear again when this summer is one of the driest and hottest summers in centuries and a third of our well-planted lavender does not survive (suppose we have thousands of lavenders). had planted…), while all but 1 of the newly planted trees survived. Like the older trees, they even exhibit an abundance of flowers and fruit. Fortunately, the lavender that survives the summer yields relatively high yields. After all the cutting and picking, we are left with two large wooden baskets with lavender. The baskets are made of mesh at the bottom, so that the picked lavender can dry thoroughly before I put them in bags. During the return journey from the lavender nursery, it suddenly turns out (once again on the advice of the navigation) that there is a very civilized route from the nursery, simply over comfortable asphalted roads and also with beautiful views.
Thanks to the help of good friend Leo, Sander managed to put all the new trees and shrubs in the ground in April. It is incredibly nice to see how attractive the new plantings are to birds and butterflies. In the garden around our house, due to the many extra hiding places, it has become a large happy gathering of wagtails, tits, robins and occasionally we even hear sparrows. According to our friend Hans van Oosterhout, the well-known butterfly watcher and bird watcher, the wide variety of butterflies and insects per lavender on Pian del Nasso is unique. Of course we hear the cheerful buzzing of the bees and see butterflies fluttering up and down. But which inhabitants that parallel world houses and feeds is unknown to us. Hans has created a description and photo collection especially for the nature lovers among us (you can see a few below), which can soon be found on our new website. A number of photos have been released on canvas and are now hanging in our holiday homes. And even more fun: the images can also be admired 'live' in the garden.
The renovation of our Rustico will start in June! With some delays here and there due to small 'dettagli' such as a permit that turns out not to be completely complete and 'Ferragosto' the holiday month in Italy, which means that all work comes to a standstill, the renovation has been in full swing since September. The new roof will be put on next week and we hope to celebrate 'Pannenbier' in accordance with Dutch tradition as soon as the highest point is reached. At times it has something of our renovation of our house in the Kerkstraat in Baarn (friends and family probably remember it). Only a facade remained and Sander and his father chipped away thousands of bricks so that they, complete with cutting joints, became worthy of a house from 1860 again and that is also how it is now with the Rustico. It has been demolished down to the facade, and is now being restored to its former glory by chipping off the plaster and restoring it in 'piètra'. We say: “to be continued” and “keep you posted”!
In the autumn the time of the famous 'tartufo' On! Around Pian del Nasso we encounter many foraging truffle hunters with dogs. They first look a bit startled when they see us walking with dogs (the competition here is literally fierce), but they quickly turn to some pity because ours have a great cuddliness factor, but very little detective instinct (read: put a piece of sausage in front of their nose and they won't notice anything. They also do very well in the car from NL to IT with a bag of dog food next to them. It doesn't go beyond using it as a pillow for their head). So there is little competition to fear from us.
Many culinary festivals take place in the region in honor of the truffle. There is the annual 'La Festa del Tartufo di Millesimo'. In the center of the beautiful town of Millesimo, also known for Ristorante Pantarei Cucina (we were there this summer with Sander's parents, who once again honored us with a very special visit), the streets are filled with stalls selling all kinds of local products. with the main theme of course being truffle, but also with all kinds of other products such as honey, cheese, salami, etc. . Of course you can taste everywhere. It is very nice and when Sander and I were still on holiday here in the Mulino we always came there! Recommended. We can now add another good restaurant to our list: Madonna della neve in Cessole. It is located in the mountains with a beautiful view over the vineyards. The kitchen is famous for its Piedmontese cuisine, its excellent wine list and its ravioli served in linen napkins; http://www.ristorantemadonnadellaneve.it
We look back on the past year with pleasure and pride. A lot has happened and a lot has already been achieved. We only have to look at our garden and the new trees, at our house that, as of this week, is completely finished inside, at the Cascina that we were able to renovate and redesign this year, at the fields that have been plowed and are ready to be planted with lavender in the spring, to all the 'normal' regulations, each a challenge in Italian, but nevertheless successful, to the new friends and neighbors that we have been able to get to know and 'understand' here. But especially and above all, looking at the many friends and family who we saw visibly enjoying and at Pian del Nasso, with the biggest surprise being Sander's parents.
We would never have dared to dream it, given their health combined with the challenging circumstances of this time. But thanks to the help and willingness of Sander, Uncle Bert and Aunt Miep to bring them, Joke and Hans arrive at Pian del Nasso in September. A more than special moment followed by an unforgettable time. Being able to show and experience Pian del Nasso in real life (impossible through a photo or film), the many trips (to 'Fabio' from Ristorante Braia, 'the ladies' from Della Posta, to Celle Ligure on the Mediterranean and having lunch at Pitosfore and visiting surrounding towns) it was enjoyable for all parties. And Hans arrived with a walking stick, he quickly threw it away and - as if it were the most normal thing in the world - walked with me and Dasti across the field to the river. At one point Hans was even lost when, as it turned out, he was on a voyage of discovery to the Rustico! (on a steep hill!). So nice to see and to see both Joke and Hans shine. Worth repeating, but this visit cannot be taken away from all of us!
There are of course many new plans on the table for the new year. Planting the lavender in the spring, launching our new website, but also the renovation of the Rustico and insulating the outside of our house. These plans have been in place for some time and have been somewhat delayed, not due to 'Italian situations' but due to the global lack of materials due to COVID, which means our contractor cannot start. But as always, things will work out just at the right time, speriamo, dus we houden de moed erin. Wat zou het niettemin fijn zijn als dat eenmaal gereed is, dan kunnen we eindelijk ons huis aan de buitenkant in de verf zetten en het zal ook heel wat graden en ‘pelletzakken’ schelen.
In any case, we will be warm this Christmas. Yesterday, four pallets with (almost 300) bags for our stove arrived here. Of course we had already had a supply brought in, with last year's harsh winter in mind, but our voluptuous stove knows no bounds in this not-so-great-insulated house and we saw our supply dwindling day by day. Anyway, as always, it went exactly right. And according to Sander, these bags warm you three times: when you carry them to the shed, when you carry them to the stove and when they finalmente in de kachel bevinden.
From Pian del Nasso we wish everyone a very nice, relaxing Christmas and a beautiful and healthy 2022!
This month Marjan and her husband Willem-Jan stayed in our Mulino. Marjan gives creative writing courses and workshops. That's how we met her a few years ago. Of course, we did not refuse her offer to write a guest blog about her experiences at Pian del Nasso, because how nice it is to 'see' and 'hear' Pian del Nasso through the eyes and ears of our guests!
After more than a year and a half of postponement due to all the Corona restrictions, we are now going to Pian del Nasso for a week. The anticipation started at the end of May when we spent a week looking at houses in Piedmont. During a short visit, Sander and Corine showed us around their beautiful estate, and after that we couldn't wait any longer. We've been looking ahead to the past all summer.
Our holiday started on Wednesday with a few days of lazing on the beach of San Remo. It is already around five o'clock when, after stocking up on supplies, we arrive at the Conad Superstore in Cairo Montenotte on Pian del Nasso. After a warm welcome by Sander, Corine and Dasti, we settle in the Mulino. In the evening, while eating under the 'portica', we see a curious young doe wandering around in the field. After dusk falls, around eight o'clock, the air soon fills with all kinds of natural sounds. At nine o'clock it is really dark and we marvel at a clear sky with thousands of stars. There is no light pollution here at all. With my binoculars I discover numerous star clouds.
We slept very deeply because of the wonderful bed and the cool night. The windows in the bedroom can be left open all night thanks to the mosquito nets; we didn't see any mosquito. After breakfast we decide to take a walk around the estate. Pian del Nasso is about 8 hectares in size and consists of fields, which are colorfully decorated with wild flowers from spring to early summer, including wild orchids, forests, Calanchi (these are rolling gray rock formations) and two streams. It is extremely dry this summer, it has not rained for two months. Most flowers have now finished blooming or cannot withstand the drought. The grass is mown and rolled up in large, nationally themed rolls on the land. In the afternoon we take a refreshing dip in the large swimming pool. After half an hour of swimming laps we enjoy the peace and quiet (we have the pool to ourselves) and the warm autumn sun. In the evening we eat outside again. As the contours of the forest fade into darkness we hear the plaintive call of the tawny owls.
Another beautiful, clear day with sunshine. Today we want to go for a walk in the Piana Crixia Natural Park. We start at the 'bus station', a kilometer walk from Pian del Nasso and choose route 4 with a length of almost four kilometers. We are soon glad that we did not choose route 5 (almost eight km) because in those four kilometers we overcome a height difference of more than 150 meters. But the reward is great: halfway up we have the most beautiful views of the park. I can't resist writing another message in the fine grit of the Calanchi with my found chestnut wooden stick. During our walk we don't meet anyone, only a curious donkey. In the evening we meet the dormouse, a squirrel-like mouse, who rummages under the roof tiles and occasionally walks across the beams above the 'portica' before jumping into the trees and disappearing into the forest.
Because we enjoyed the pure nature and complete tranquility so much yesterday, we are going to try out another walking route. This time we choose route number 2 because we also want to visit an agriturismo (Verdita) on the other side of the park. In the spring we spoke to the owners because they wanted to sell it. It has now been sold (not to us) and we are still a bit curious to see what we 'missed out'. It takes a while before we find the starting point (which we think is on the Via Giberta) of this route. Ultimately we park our car in the parking lot about 250 meters away at Pontevecchio. We get lost a few times along the way because the directions are not clear and the path overlaps a little with route 1. With Google maps and a smart watch, we end up at Verdita after a long climb of about 170 meters in altitude. On the way back we find the route very easily and the path runs downwards almost all the time. Today we don't meet anyone at all, but we do hear a green woodpecker and we once again enjoy the view of the beautiful hilly landscape, including the tower of Merana 'Torre san Fermo'. Back at the Mulino we enjoy an extensive lunch and fall asleep on the sunbeds in the shade.
In the evening we drive to La Braia restaurant in Cairo Montenotte and let ourselves be pampered by the special owner Fabio. The food is fantastic (be sure to choose the dish that Corine and Sander recommend on their list) and the house wine, a Barbero d'Asti from Ad Maiora (2020), is dangerously tasty. Especially if you then drive back through the pitch dark on winding roads (SP9 and SP33), like us. You can also drive on the 'highway' SP29 to Pian del Nasso. But then you don't see what we see along the way: six deer and a wild forest cat!
Today we go to Loazzolo to buy our favorite red wine 'Le Grive' at the organic wine farm Forteto della Luja. This idyllic spot is about a 45-minute drive from Pian del Nasso, where the last ten minutes (from Bubbio) you drive on a very narrow winding road where you have a completely different view after every bend. Forteto della Luja has received a WWF designation because no fewer than 21 species of wild orchids bloom between the vines. A rare phenomenon and a sign that the soil on which the vines grow is of exceptionally good quality. After loading two boxes of wine we continue our way to Alba, a small characteristic town 33 kilometers to the west. Along the way we come across a badger that has just been hit, lying in the middle of the road. Upon closer inspection it turns out he is already dead and to prevent him from being run over again we drag him to the roadside. It is impressively large and heavy! I've never seen a badger up close, let alone touched it. We drive on, a little dejected. In Alba it is quiet on the streets, it is lunchtime and most shops here close between twelve and half past three. We have a delicious meal on the large square: ravioli with black truffle! When I walk to the toilet, I pass an impressive wine collection, Le Grive is also among them. Good tent, I think.
Because Pian del Nasso is just an hour from the beach, we decide to spend another day at the seaside. It would be the best day of the week, but it is still a bit cloudy at ten o'clock. We drive to Savona to find a spot on the beach a few kilometers south of there at Albissola Marina. You can easily park here for little money and walk straight onto the beach with all kinds of beach bars with beds and facilities. The sea becomes deep here quite quickly, so you can enjoy swimming. We decide to rent a bed at Mirage Beach Club, with a swimming pool, restaurant and opportunity to shower. We were a bit shocked by the price: €50 for two beds…. In San Remo we spent all day on the beach for €15! The owner says it is the same price everywhere. That's fine, we think to ourselves, but we don't feel like looking any further. In the afternoon we go into the town of Savona to buy some tasty things to take home. We notice that the mentality in this city is different from the countryside of Liguria and Piedmont where we find the Italians particularly friendly and approachable. We are also a bit disappointed with the shops, so we quickly drive back to our green paradise in Piana Crixia. In the evening we try to identify the birds we hear with the app 'Birdwatch', but that is not easy with all those cheerfully chirping crickets in the background. A deer comes to visit and nibbles on a tree a few meters from our 'portica' in the stream.
Our last day before departure! Through the owner of Verdita we received the telephone number of the best truffle hunter in the region: Roberto Milani. We are going truffle hunting with him today. The region is known for having many (good!) white and black truffles (also on Pian del Nasso). Due to the drought and warm summer, there is little chance of finding anything, says Roberto, but that does not stop us from going out with him, his daughter and two truffle dogs. We leave from Merana, about a 10-minute drive from Pian del Nasso, and walk for an hour and a half through the fields and forests. The dogs find a truffle twice. Black ones in our case, which are unfortunately not suitable for consumption due to the weather conditions. Finding truffles is really a momentum thing, Roberto explains. Everything has to be right: moisture, wind and local conditions (such as certain tree species together and the composition of the soil). Sometimes they can only be smelled by the dog for a few minutes, so you have to be in the right place at exactly the right time. This means that there is enormous competition among truffle hunters and that a number of them regularly go out in the middle of the night in search of secret locations where they suspect truffles can be found. The best time to look for truffles starts at the beginning of October.
With regret in our hearts we pack the car to go home. Waved goodbye by Sander and Corine, on Sander's advice we drive through the large Sint Bernard tunnel/pass (via Aosta) to Switzerland instead of through the Gotthard tunnel and then through Germany to the Netherlands. A beautiful and super quiet route through the Alps. Do we still have a holiday feeling on this last day!
The renovation of the Cascina will be completed in June. In keeping with the 'I'm leaving' style, we are still unpacking and decorating the day before the first guests arrive. The terrace in front of the Cascina looks like an exploded construction site, not to mention inside, but that evening it is really finished. We are secretly a bit proud of the end result.
Summer is whizzing by. There is a coming and going of friends and family. The 'damage' of last year is being made up for on all sides. This year my sister Nanny and her husband Peter came to Italy especially to celebrate my birthday. Until the end, it wasn't entirely certain whether it would work with all the travel restrictions! So glad it worked out in the end: the best birthday present ever. And as a surprise, our Nadia gathered all her children together to sing to me in Italian. How sweet! They treat us to a delicious cake from Cristian Zippo, who previously owned the restaurant Regina from Spigno Monferrato, and now bakes particularly tasty cakes that you can order and have delivered to your home. Recommended!
It is great to be able to show Pian del Nasso and the surrounding area to family, friends and acquaintances. And thanks to their visit, we discover more and more and enjoy what the area has to offer us. We eat, cook and walk a lot together. How nice to spot goats crossing the street, grazing deer, waddling wild boars, darting foxes and badgers during the walk - if we don't talk too loudly. For a long period - until July - we can enjoy a spectacle of dancing fireflies in the evening. And when the last firefly has gone out, from the beautiful starry sky. Our guests do a lot of cycling, running, swimming, sailing and strolling through nice towns. The nice thing about Pian del Nasso is that everything is relatively close: endless nature, the Mediterranean Sea, the Alps, but also places like Turin, Genoa, Cinque Terre and Monaco.
We receive a message from the Coldiretti that Sander is officially registered as a farmer, which means we can further start our agriturismo. This also gives us an IVA (VAT) number and we can finally become part of the Italian healthcare system, the Asl2. That is not unimportant, because it also means that, after 1.5 years, we finally have a general practitioner here in Italy. Now we could continue to contact our wonderful GP Fleur in Baarn for-the-time-being, but in these times with periods of lock-down, a GP around the corner is very practical. A little more established again.
Nature on Pian del Nasso needs moisture. While people in the Netherlands are rightly longing for solar warmth and less rain, here we are longing for water. We cannot remember experiencing this drought before, except for one of our holidays, when the grass at the Mulino also had this warm yellow color. And we can't even complain. Because less than 15 kilometers from here there are villages where there is a lot of damage due to water flows due to excessive rain or large hailstones and in the south of Italy the temperatures are even more extreme, causing forest fires to rage. Fortunately, it has been a bit cooler the last few days, which gives us the idea that nature is recovering something thanks to the dew that has a longer effect now that it does not evaporate immediately. But nature simply has a chronic water shortage, hardly grows (we don't have to and can't mow), is already showing autumn shades and our poor grass looks like a worn, frayed carpet. Fortunately, our new plantings do not really suffer from this, because we (have to) provide them with water manually every day for the first year anyway. The lavender, lagerstroemia and portulaca even thrive very well, just like our guests who of course love the sun. But how happy we would be with a few days of normal rain: 'speriamo‘!.
Partly thanks to the help of friend Leo, who is staying here for a few weeks in the Rustico together with his son Sepp, Sander managed to paint the hall with the enormous high ceiling and the conservatory. As a result, our house is now as good as finished on the inside. In the coming period we will focus on the land that needs to be prepared for the planting of lavender in the spring, the renovation of the Rustico and the insulation and painting of the outside of our house. To be continued!
Following my previous blog, I received a lot of responses asking whether the brush cutter was successful in the end? Well it worked! It took a few days before I got the courage up again, but then everything suddenly went well. And the effect is enormous. The borders are completely sleek and bright green. For a long time I thought that there must be a lot of bee colonies around here, since I saw beekeepers everywhere... I now know that there are special suits that you put under the harness to protect your face and limbs.
So far we have been virtually spared 'Italian situations', but our carpenter Luigi more than makes up for that. A year ago he managed to take a very long time to put our doors back in the house, so that we were finally able to have our moving van arrive, but we still lived without doors in the house for a long time (which was doable in itself). Of course it should have rang some bells with us, but because he apologized profusely and promised a 'discount' for the next order, we went for it anyway. He was commissioned to install our (existing!) doors in the newly built conservatory. The renovation of the conservatory itself went smoothly thanks to our contractor and was ready in no time. Please note! under the instruction of Luigi, who also made the window frames around which the conservatory was built. Luigi then managed to stagnate everything for months and came back more than 6 times to measure everything again. Every time he texted, we thought he was coming to install the doors, but no, that was to measure everything again. It made us both despondent and giggly. This also applies to the contractor who has now suffered from Luigi's delaying measurement actions at several locations. We already heard them with terms like 'Pinokkio' to throw. But last week we received the redeeming news that Luigi is coming to close the conservatory. In the end it is not Luigi who arrives (afterwards we understand why), but his brother and cousin (by the way, really serious and knowledgeable people) and once sul posto they conclude, you wouldn't believe it, that the frames are too big for the doors. Then they utter the already historic phrase “who measured it”? And we: “Well, uhh, Luigi”. You see gasping movements and then his brother squeaks, “but who made the window frames?” “Well,” we say, “also Luigi”……. It takes some time for this news to sink in, but then there will be intensive discussions in rapid Italian. The solution they propose is to place wider slats over the frames, so that the doors can still be made to fit. In several respects it does not deserve a beauty prize. But what a blessing in disguise: next year our house will be insulated and then these single-glazed doors will have to be replaced by new ones. You just understand that we do not have these new doors at 'Pinokkiogoing to order. In-the-meantime we enjoy the beautiful view, doors or no doors!
The lawn is neatly mowed, the crickets have returned and apparently one of our cats has too, because we hear a plaintive meow. Sander and I look at each other, it can't be right?, and then we look at the edge of the pool and yes, there - not much has changed, but a little thinner - is one of our cats! How special is it that she found us from more than 45 kilometers away! She is clearly hungry, because she keeps meowing. We immediately give her food, which she manages to eat in the blink of an eye, but the meowing continues. Then we realize that she is of course looking for the other cat. How is that even possible, because the other cat was really not friendly to her at all. How many times we had to defend her when she wanted to eat something, but the other cat wouldn't allow it and then kept lashing out viciously. I get Přiklopil-like images. This is clearly a form of Stockholm syndrome. It is touching that she continues to search like this. Of course, the white cat was her only company for years. All we can do is make sure she accepts us as her new companion. And what we were unable to do for a year, we are now somehow miraculously able to do. Within a day she will be eating out of our hands! A few days later we can pet her and even get cups! This now makes it possible to care for her and give her anti-flea products, among other things. She now goes by the name Mauw and has her own basket under our portico. And our Dasti, who is still waiting for a second dog (there were no puppies, so we have to be patient) - is having a great time. All's well that ends well!