The last four weeks of living La Dolce Vita have been a challenge on many, many levels. Snow, up to four feet deep in places around the house, meant the cats and I were snowed in for three weeks, for some of this time without power, heating or water. Twice we had thundersnow – an extraordinary mix of heavy snow AND thunder and lightning – and then the earthquakes started again in northern Abruzzo, causing yet more destruction. Tragically the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola collapsed during an avalanche estimated to weigh between 40,000 and 60,000 tonnes; and 29 people lost their lives, including two people from my village.
But on a very small, personal level, we were fine here, thanks to some dear friends who rescued me twice to get essentials like wine and cat food. I needed the wine to keep warm (yes, really) and the cat food, because I really didn’t fancy being found with half my face gnawed off, come the thaw! I also realised I have happily inherited food hoarding from my mum and made some tasty enough meals out of ingredients that you might only see paired in foodie magazines – beetroot and celery pasta, anyone? Jamie Oliver eat your heart out. And why oh why did I have eight cans of chickpeas? So – we didn’t starve. Just waited it out, quietly reading books and trying not to go stir crazy – but I have to confess to a big blubby session when the power came back on.
When I did manage to get out in the car the weather had moved from snow to thick fog, a real pea souper, and I discovered something worse, much worse, than Italian drivers. Can it be possible, I hear you cry? Try playing dodgems with Italian drivers who are hurtling along roads at top speed in the fog, without their lights on, and overtaking on corners while talking on the phone. At one point I had to drive into a snow bank to avoid becoming roadkill, thanks to a particularly vicious lorry. Another excellent reason to reach for vino. Yes, really.
And now, just as things are slowly returning to normal, with some nice sunny days helping the snow disappear, I decide to have the house rewired. Of course. After all the cold white stuff, why not try the other extreme and see what it’s like living in a sandstorm! I’ve got fab workmen in but they are producing layers upon layers upon layers of dust on the floors, walls, benchtops and all other surfaces, which are fastidiously (as in, not by me) swept up and wiped clean every evening – yet these layers of dust disturbingly reappear the following morning, before work has even started again! They also took out the old non-functioning fireplace and chimney in the kitchen, and the ghastly broken mustardy coloured tiles in the living room have all come up, to reveal pretty, unbroken, perfectly serviceable grey and white ones. They’ll do nicely, thank you.
I’ve never been the best housekeeper in the world so I find myself happily able to turn a blind eye to most of the mess. After all, it’s short term pain for long term gain, with work due to finish in a couple of weeks – just in time for my first anniversary!