Thursday, 21 August 2008

Sun Sets

Although written over 100 years ago, for me, the words of Giovanni Pascoli, the famous Italian poet who lived near Barga, when accepting honorary citizenship of the city still capture the essence of life in Barga

“Voi mi dite vostro concittadino per il gusto,
che ad altri parrà singolare e che a me pare
cosi naturale, di stabilirmi in una campagna
presso di voi. Né già per un commercio, né già
per un'industria, né già per un calcolo qualunque;
ma per contemplare il sole che tramonta dietro il monte forato,
la luna che pende come una lampada accesa sul colle di Barga,
per aggirarmi all'ombra di castagni
e parlare con cuori di contadini.”

The last few lines of which say that he chose to live in Barga:

to contemplate the sun that sets behind Monte Forato,
the moon that hangs like a lit lamp over the hills of Barga;
to wander in the shade of the chestnut trees
and to talk to the hearts of the peasants.

I am open to better translations but should I have misunderstood it please don’t spoil my illusion.

Time's Up

There we were lulling around, minding our own business when someone called, “Time’s up” and pulled the plug. We still had restaurants to try and things to do.

Have yet to persuade myself that home is where it is at. A visit to Tesco was a reality shock – I hate Tesco – but at least I got some broccoli.

On the plus side, the suite that was being re-upholstered during our absence has turned out well.

Monday, 18 August 2008


After 40 days and with two to go, I have finally thought of a reason – other than family – to go home – broccoli. I love broccoli and haven’t had any for nearly six week. While it is, I am sure, true that I could have bought some at Leclerc – although I don’t recall seeing any – this would be to miss the point: despite its Italianate name broccoli is not a vegetable to be actually eaten here and is better suited for eating in places where the sun shines less.

So in a couple of days after final meals at il Bugno and l’Altana, I will once again be able to enjoy some broccoli at home. Always look on the bright side.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Sunday – Day of Leisure

Following Mass at Albiano, a chat with the Capanni’s whom we met (see June Blog) and a farewell visit to Franco and Umberta, we dropped in on Loreno and Margaret and invited ourselves to lunch: fried zucchini flowers, salad and cheese, with wine and coffee corretto.

Loreno and I had a couple of friendly hands of poker which Loreno won – but let’s not forget who won the serious championship in January.

Andrew, Jill and Joe walked to Tiglio. I suppose someone has to do it.

Another Hard Day

Turned out nice again: so another day hard day at the pool.

Thankfully, on the way down to the pool the market stall was open. When I explained my problem to the old man whom I assume is the husband of the old lady he was sympathetic but said he could only offer a “superior” replacement product – albeit that this was the same price and also made in China.

He explained that he could not give me a refund as he had already completed his tax return for the previous day. Did he think I was born yesterday? How many Italian market traders can there be who ever fill in a tax return.

Discussions continued until he finally conceded defeat and gave me my money – it is not of course a money thing but playing the game that counts.

Hope the watch I bought in Fornaci is more reliable.

Evening dinner was at the Pesce Patate Festival in the football stadium – the best fish and chips I have had outside Scotland and amazingly well organised.

Then dancing outside Onesti – well at least Joe danced with Jill/Andrew.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Ripped Off

Having only seen junk at the markets, I was pleased to find a new garlic press today. There were some cheap and nasty things but the old lady at the stall sold me a superior sexy one costing €7.50.

As we were eating at home tonight I decided to use it to season the chicken I was grilling. One squeeze and it fell apart. I have saved the pieces for the fun of trying to exercise my statutory rights and get my money back. The threatened thunderstorm did materialise so unfortunately no prospect of the market or the old lady being there. Perhaps she will be there tomorrow.


After a harassing journey from Pisa via a number of uncharted locations, Andrew, Jill and Joe suffered the misfortune of striking another car within a few hundred metres of their destination. No one was hurt and the damage was relatively minor but clearly, not the best start to a holiday. Unfortunately, Andrew had made the perfectly sensible decision not to take out the optional and extra insurance to cover the Insurance Excess.

On the other hand to restore the good/bad equilibrium, we heard that Andrew’s scientific contribution to the Al Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change Nobel Peace Prize has been officially recognised.

Day at the pool yesterday and walking round Barga today to see the Santa Maria and San Rocco Fiesta. Hopefully, the forecast thunderstorms will not materialise and the dancing in the piazza tonight will not be disrupted.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Hard Core

Only a few hard core Barghigiani – Jenny and I, Loreno and Margaret, Sara and Tim – remain as school commitments force most of the Scottish contingent to leave.

Curry last night at Delio’s – thanks Matthew for the ingredients – followed by checking the blog and searching for copri-scopri parts for Delio’s truck.

Then final drinks at Alpino’s – thanks to Roberto and everyone who has helped us settle into life in Barga.

Seems very windy today.Andrew, Jill and Joe arriving tomorrow so – need to smarten the place for visitors.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Typical Barga Evening

After the hard day at the pool, an excellent meal at the Altana demonstrated that, in our opinion, it is the best restaurant in town.

The other contender for the title is probably the Scacciaguai which I feel verges on the pretentious – although this could be considered an unfair assessment on my part as I haven’t actually dined there.

After dinner, at about ten o’clock we passed through Piazza San Angelio to hear a band from Lucca playing classic tunes and where we encountered Loreno. We then joined up with Roberto and others at the usual venue for leisurely drinks alfresco until about one in the morning.

As a result, today was a late start and lazing around in the sun at home: also I don't yet feel ready to meet Roberto at the pool.
Tonight could well follow a similar pattern.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Another hard day at the pool.

Barga weather is now more comfortable following rain storms in the north of Italy.

The table tennis tournament final saw the two top seeds, me and Roberto, facing each other under the fierce midday sun. The fact that it was a closely fought five set match with the fifth set going 22-20 does not compensate for the fact that the outcome was a bitter disappointment. Let’s not speak of it further.

On the positive front I did finish my latest Italian novel – Il giardino del Finzi-Contini – a great read.

Honorary Barghigiani

Honorary Barghigiani “birra grande” John and Sheena send their regards to family, friends and fellow Queen of the South supporters back home.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Turning up the Heat

Yesterday was the hottest day so far but today, at 35C, is even hotter.
Celebrated Matthew’s birthday in Viareggio and at Bugno.

Viareggio was deserted and defying the laws of economics – faced with an overabundance of supply and next to no demand you would think that the price of a day on the beach would be in freefall but not so and the prices are said to be the highest in Italy – €60 for four, one umbrella and use of the pool.

There were 14 at Matthew’s birthday meal at the Bugno but I think there was food and drink for twice that number – shame that you weren’t there.

Also more pressure on the table tennis front – Roberto wants to make clear that he is two points ahead of the field and Tim only has one point: also Carla is complaining that the championship didn’t get started till after she had gone otherwise she claims she could have beaten all contenders
Exciting development at Leclerc hypermarket where the old wire trolleys have been replaced by new super light plastic ones which go where you steer them.

Tonight eating at La Mocchia which contrary to rumour – that I may have started – is not closed for the next two weeks.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Matthew and Michelle

Arrived on Sunday and have settled into Barga although they are finding the pace a bit challenging – food, wine, Lucca today, Viareggio tomorrow.

While I am here, I have come under some pressure to refer to the table tennis tournament. I hadn’t thought it important as it is still work in progress. However, if I must: Roberto is currently in the lead with Tim in second position but I am confident of pulling back the championship.
I wonder how heavy I am.

Elia and Anna

Apologies to Elia and Anna for not mentioning them and their swimming prowess previously when writing about their nonno, Loreno. For safety, I should also mention their parents, Lorena and Billy.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Giovedi Club

Hadn’t planned an update today but Loreno insisted as he is now not sure if he had a good time unless he reads about it here. Loreno, relax we had a great night with an excellent meal that started with an almost nouvelle cuisine zucchini fiori fritti in a delicate batter building up through several rounds of antipasto, ravioli and maccheroni to a climax of a fantastic T-Bone steak: but best of all was the witty and erudite conversation. We may have had some wine and grappa.

Apparently, next week is Ladies night at the club but I don’t think we can make it as it is a fish night and Matthew and Michelle are not keen on fish.

Today was a pool day with insalata for lunch and now getting ready for dinner somewhere, than drinks at Alpino