Now that we have the mayor’s promise that the ravine will be cleaned (still waiting to see it happen before really believing it though!), we start thinking one step ahead of the people who will arrive with their cars loaded with rubbish to find their favourite dumping spot transformed and CCTV cameras in operation… They will of course drive on and look for the nearest suitable spot to dump their stuff – which in this case would be the top end of Passopomo where there is a little hole in the fence and some people already have made use of it to dump a few bags, a buggy, several sacks of cement, some roller blinds, old plant pots etc. So one morning Frank and I go armed with a wheel-barrow and netting to fix the fence and remove the rubbish. We make acquaintance with the neighbour who watches us suspiciously to start with but eventually even introduces us to his wife and comes out to help a little. A couple of hours and the fence looks as good a s new and no more rubbish is to be seen. Next, we need to find some second hand Christs and Madonnas to spread around the place, maybe cement some on the bridge, because apparently people refrain from dumping in the presence of a holy audience. Rosy thinks it’s hilarious that we might scour the rubbish dump of the local cemetery for unwanted religious icons. We might even go to the local priest and see if we can’t get him to donate a figurine.
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One morning, we wake up and all is covered in snow! Etna is majestic this morning, completely pink and smoking, and the snow beneath our feet has that typical crunching sound on our stroll up the hill when we go out to collect firewood.
The white beauty only lasts a couple of days before all is licked away by the sun.
for more photos, go to our flikr album
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It is usually dark by the time Rosi has finished feeding all the horses. From the warmth of our van, we see the light of her headlamp flitting across the stables for the last check if all doors are securely shut and bolted so that no horse can escape, then we hear the sound of her car receding down the drive and silence returns to Passopomo, only to be broken by the occasional barking of dogs or a thud against a stable wall by a horse stretching out.
Frank has taken on the job of night watchman, up and out of bed when the dogs start their chorus, no matter what time of night, armed with a torch and a good stick, but luckily so far there’s been no major incident.
Mostly the nights are incredibly beautiful here, dark and starry, and when the moon is up you can see majestic Etna quietly smoking. It was on one of the rare stormy evenings though, when the rain was of a horizontal nature and we were happily ensconced in playing a round of Canasta before heading for bed, when we heard a car revving up the drive way. A few seconds later, it shot past us and up the hill into the vineyard. This is a private property, so it is very strange to see a car coming through. We didn’t have time to worry or get ready to go and have a look though, because within a couple of minutes the same car came hurtling back down the hill and scuttled off.
We sent a message to Rosi, who was equally perplexed by the mystery visitor.
Not ten minutes later, a second car arrives in the rain, albeit a bit smaller, and its attempt to get up the hill is halted half way, with tyres squealing and struggling to get a hold of solid ground. Frank goes out to see what’s up. There is a woman and a child in the car, looking for a kid’s birthday party! Apparently, the restaurant below sent them up here. It is true, Rosi sometimes has children’s birthdays at her venue, but the restaurant should know better not to send people up here after dark in the driving rain! Since everything is dark at the stables, they missed the maneggio altogether and were heading into the hills of the vineyard. The woman starts reversing and in the dark misses the path, bringing one wheel perilously close to a drop. She is stuck – reversing any further would send her over the edge and attempts at going forward only send her tyres spinning. She stops and calls her husband. By now, we are both out there to make conversation and invite her to shelter in the van until her husband comes, but she declines. Once the husband and his friend are there, we have enough people to sit on the bonnet to allow the front wheels to grip and move the car away from the edge. They are very grateful for our help and support.
As they leave, we pass them one of our cards, inviting them to check our blog for the story of their night-time adventure…
Back in the van we heave a sigh of relief. We had visions of horse kidnappers, of having to defend the stables, just armed with a stick, of having to ring the police and explain in our mediocre Italian where we are and what’s happened – and then it turns out it was only a misdirected kids’ birthday party!!!
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