Archive for the ‘flowers’ Category

The Lay of the Land in Calabria

The physical layout of life in a medieval hilltop village in southern Italy is often hard to grasp — especially for people who haven’t been here — so I’m going to try to explain it.

As I’ve written before, many medieval villages up on the hills have counterpart towns on the sea; we’re up on the hill, where houses are very close to one another, often touching. This is about a quarter of Badolato (our quarter, as it were) with the Ionian Sea in the background:

Around the outskirts of town, there are small green patches where people have their gardens, even animals. Most of them are places where houses used to be but have fallen or otherwise been compromised, but any time you can get just a little “orto” near your house, you’ve scored.

Last year, P and I secured a small chunk of land very close to our house (it’s about a 30 second walk), but it’s not like a “yard” that some might imagine.

There are actually two levels to it; one you can see below and the other is just off to the side of this, a few steps down to the right, and is where we plant veggies. You can see the chicken coop and goat pen on the left. The house with the big hole in it? Not ours. You can actually see our bedroom window, though…that brown squarish thing just to the left of the whitish house? I have it in a note on Flickr if you click through:

To give you an idea of the distance, here is a photo taken about half way between our house and the entrance to orto, looking toward the house (the last house on the right — it’s on a corner, and yes I know it needs paint, badly):

This photo overlooks the beginning of the garden (you can see the tops of our trees just past the iron railing), although the entrance is another twenty or so paces away:

And here is a photo from the outside looking in; I’ve labeled it on Flickr with notes (click on the photo to go there) so you can see where we live compared to where the goats live in our orto:

We also keep some chickens and hens there:

Our orto has a lemon tree, a couple mandarin trees, a nespole tree, a fig tree, a small grapevine, and we also plant various crops there, including lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peas, peperoncini, basil, and this year…strawberries!

And here is the view from our orto (from inside the goat pen):

This was taken a couple months ago, so those branches you see on the right are now full of fig leaves and the beginnings of some fruit.

So as you can see, it’s a nice little space that produces plenty for the two of us — actually way more than we need so we end up giving to friends and neighbors, and often get things in return that we haven’t grown yet, like zucchini and eggplants and also all kinds of pork products since we don’t have a pig. Yet.

Are you wondering about olives and olive oil? Well, there’s also some unofficial news on that, but it’s going to have to wait for another post.

Phew. Any questions?

Three Red Poppies Swaying in the Wind

Have you heard about the She Who Blogs 3rd Anniversary Photo Contest in which you can win a $33 Amazon gift certificate?

The contest ends May 8th, so get moving! Post a photo on your blog of your take on the theme “THREE,” and head over to the contest page to enter it.

Here’s my Bleeding Espresso entry:

Tre papaveri rossi that happen to be located just behind the little house on the piece of land P and I are in the process of acquiring…yes, more details forthcoming on our new campagna assuming all goes well. Fingers crossed!

P.S. I also put up a “Three” photo over at Goat Berries…couldn’t resist!

Calabrese Proverbs by Month: April

Last month I shared Calabrese proverbs about the month of March, and now with April drawing to a close, here is one for this month:

Calabrese: Aprili ccu ru jure, maju ccu ru culure.
Italiano: Aprile con il fiore, maggio con il colore.
English: April with its flowers, May with its colors.

Hmm…looks like April did OK on the color thing too, no?


(1) Check out the Bleeding Espresso Facebook fan page as there’s something new and exciting happening over there!

(2) She Who Blogs is starting a bunch of contests today in celebration of our third anniversary! Woohoo! There are Amazon gift certificates up for grabs, a photo contest, a writing contest, and more fun planned. Come join the fun!

Love Thursday: Honoring Virtual Friendships

A little while back on Facebook, I lamented that I had broken the lid to my sugar bowl and couldn’t find another with a slot for the spoon.

Diana of Creative Structures and the Baur B&B in Piemonte, one of my dearest friends made virtually, responded by making and sending me a sugar bowl — and throwing in an antique spoon and handmade candlestick holder and candle for good measure.

(The mimosa were from P for International Women’s Day on March 8.)

Anyone who has hung around the blogosphere has likely experienced the joy of finding a kindred spirit, someone who always manages to say the right thing when you need it, a person who inspires you by just living her life and letting you share a little a piece of it virtually, and perhaps even in person if time and money allow.

I’ve been extra lucky. I’ve found several such people, and I think of them whenever I read that Internet friendships aren’t real or as valuable as “real life” relationships.


Friendships are what *you* make of them whether you see the other person every day, once a year, or never. It is up to us how much we let others into our hearts; the physical distance between us doesn’t get a say.

Happy Love Thursday everyone, and

may you have many wonderful friendships to nurture.

Calabrese Proverbs by Month: March

I love proverbs in any language, but there’s nothing more pleasing to my ears than Calabrese proverbs…and man do they love to talk about the weather.

Here are three you’re likely to hear around Badolato throughout this month, the first two in dialect, the last in Italian:

Badolatese: ‘U friddu ‘i Marzu trapàna u cornu do voi.
Italiano: Il freddo di Marzo penetra nel corno del bue.
English literal: The cold of March pierces the ox’s horns.
English loose: When it’s cold in March, you’ll freeze your arse off.

One more basic and to the point:

  • Badolatese: Marzu è pacchiu.
  • Italiano: Marzo è pazzo.
  • English: March is crazy.

And to elaborate on that point:

Italiano: Arriva marzo pazzerello; esce il sole e prendi l’ombrello!
English: Here comes crazy March; the sun comes out and you grab your umbrella!

It is true. March weather really does tend to be rather pazzo. It seemed to start in February this year with several days of both sunshine and rain, so we’ll see what this year brings. So far so good!

What are your favorite proverbs (in any language)?

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake