Friday, December 31, 2010

Castel Sant'Angelo

Yesterday was a day off for the Casa Margherita team and so we went to Rome to meet up with some friends.

We visited the Castel Sant'Angelo which was built as a mausoleum by Emporer Hadrian but was later changed to a fortified bolt hole for the Popes and is connected to the Vatican by an elevated foot bridge.

It features some lovely detailed cherubs and has a fantastic 360∘ view of Rome. Worth a look.

I would show a photo but forgot to take the camera!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Our house looks over a valley and today there was a layer of smoke hanging in the valley as we have been a couple of days without the slightest breeze and with the temperatures quite low everyone has a fire lit burning wood.

Wood is still the principle fuel here and with the cost of other fuels only likely to increase this is a situation that will not change.

Monday, December 27, 2010


A view today of a vineyard below our house. The forms remind us both of a first world war German graveyard we visited in northern France. At first glance it seemed not unusual but on closer inspection each cross represented a grave for four Germans with their names written on the front and back of the horizontal arms of the cross.

Rachel is going to base a painting on this which I will share once it is done.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Allium, my alliums

After the eating and drinking toils of Christmas day it was time to do some work in the veg garden.

Energised by a brilliant winter's morning we finally got around to digging up the last patch of tomatoes that had been an eyesore for some months. And into the ground went garlic. It's a great vegetable. Plant it on the shortest day and harvest it on the longest day and no maintenance required. Easy peasy.

Whilst I did this Rachel planted broad beans which make for a great green manure when they are dug in after. Scrooge like, I have no more to say about them as I don't like eating them!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

And lo....

a strange light was cast over Trevi on Christmas day.

Buone Feste

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lessons learned

In winter we heat the house using a wood boiler which can either use wood pettets or logs. We generally use pellets.

In previous years we have ordered early as they are cheaper but this has meant moving 240 bags weighing 15 kilos each in summer when the temperature is in the mid 30's.

This year, due to a lack of organisation we left it later and so today was the day they arrived and we duly moved them in a comfortable (although slightly unseasonal) 21 degrees c.

Also had a very nice Chinese for lunch - wanton soup etc. Luverly.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Horses 2

They were back again this morning grazing and then ended up standing in the drive quite close to the company Fiat Panda. I was slightly concerned as any false move on their part would reduce said vehicle to a pile of junk.

Luckily this did not happen but one of them did look somewhat confused as though a prank had gone a bit too far and now it was time to go back to familiar territory.

We had a quick shoot around the village and found someone who knew the owners and so just after lunch they were reclaimed and walked back home.

Isn't there always a heart warming story at Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Couple of horses loose in the top paddock

As Rachel went to warm up the company Fiat Panda this morning she was slightly taken aback to see these two fine lads (?) grazing nonchalantly under the washing line. They spent several hours grazing before wandering off.

Luckily our Westie, Winnie, has yet to find the couple of deposits they left behind - but she will!

Then to cap it off we found this poor mouse trapped in our bathroom lightwell. It fairly bounded out when we opened it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Christmas tree

There have been quite a number of robins around the house which is a traditional sign of a cold/harsh winter.

We also today decorated the Casa Margherita christmas tree and as traditional for us we have a robin atop it. The robin is fairly battered thanks to a run in with our much missed cat Polly but has pride of place on our tree.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


There I was preparing some brussel sprouts for dinner thinking I was lucky to be able to find them in our local supermarket.

This got me thinking. Why is it that the banana has been so successful and crossed every (I exaggerate) cultural boundary and are very commonly available. What marketing guru/trick led to the mass adoption of the banana?

Most probably the Caribbean trade routes/slave trade routes sadly enough.

We did plant some sprout plants in the veg garden but these have not done much as the soil is really not to their liking.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The mortadella dilemma

At lunch yesterday I had some very nice slices of mortadella cut through with pistachios. On other occasions I have enjoyed small pieces fried although these should come with a warning as to longer term heart problems/cholesterol levels.

However, if you buy a piece from your local butcher or deli then I often find it fatty and unpleasant and so it lurks in the fridge for a while before exiting the house.

What is the truth about mortadella?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cold fingers

When I opened the door this morning the thermometre was reading -5 and I looked up the grove and saw a fire in the grove above mine as they are still picking and sio use the fire to warm up every so often.

I am glad that we have finished picking as it would be a pretty miserable experience.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Helpful neighbours

Like a lot of countries Italians are no longer that keen on doing some of the less paid work on offer. This drives the influx of legal and illegal workers to pick tomatoes and olives to cover but two.

There is a Romanian couple who are working for one of our neighbours. They, reputedly, earn ∊50 a day picking olives for him which contrasts well with the average salary of ∊250 a month back home in Romania. They have finished their work and so return home on the 15th to hopefully enjoy a good Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spello gold

Sunday just passed we went to Spello to check out their olive oil festival.

If you have never been to Spello then it well worth a visit. It is extremely well kept and shows absolutely no signs of any damage from the '97 earthquake in much the same way that Assisi has been completely restored. However unlike Assisi it is not overrun with tourists.

The olive oil festival was interesting in that the producers there are paying much more attention to packaging than any from the Trevi area would. A fact reflected in the prices they charge but hey I like some nice packaging.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010


There was just a small cheer from the corner today when Rachel read that the Oxford English Dictionary have confirmed what every New Zealander already knew - that the pavlova was an Kiwi creation. And a fine contribution to the culinary world it is to.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sauce for Mister Lou

When our cat, Louie, is turning his nose up at his food then I often make it a little bit more interesting by adding a few drops of olive oil to it which seems to do the trick more often than not.

I hasten to add I use last year olive oil rather than this years.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Arriva il freddo

Winter is coming as this shot today from the Casa Margherita kitchen shows. The blue sky is deceptive as it was pretty cold.
These views are always great even more so when your tucked up inside nice and warm.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It ain't over yet

Many are still picking their fruit in between the rain showers. The last week has been pretty miserable stuff for those still trying to harvest their crop.

There is a bit of a rush on as a lot of mills will close before Christmas. This is very different to years gone by.

When we bought this house it was abandoned and derelict, but on the walls of what is now our lounge were the dates of when they had finished harvesting in years previous and many of these were in March and April.

This is when they had fires lit in the grove to keep warm and keep those fingers moving.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

DOP - Denominazione di Origine Protetta

Our grove here at Casa Margherita is situated in a DOP area and we have registered it. On Saturday we will have our annual inspection.

Whilst our grove is DOP, as is all of Umbria co-incidentally, the oil that we produce is not certificated as DOP as this is a different and much more costly produce that we have yet to decide to go through.

Some might think that given the grove is DOP then the oil we produce is DOP. Alas were it to be so simple.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Post harvest

Well we have finished picking and so its now time to package up some lovely oil for all those who have adopted a tree from Casa Margherita.

Adopting a tree makes for a wonderful gift so if you are looking for something different to give this Christmas then why not aodpt an olive tree from the Casa Margherita grove. All details are at