Happy Ferragosto!

What better way to wind up the hottest part of summer than with a Ferragosto post, right?  Yet I can hear you asking, “Ferragosto? What in the world is it?” Well, it literally means August holidays. And it’s the day (on August 15) which officially celebrates the summer vacation from work. A holiday which traditionally started out as one week, but has in modern times evolved into an entire month off work! Sounds great? That’s because it is!

But many businesses and shops (except in touristy areas) also close down for a good portion of the month, which can make life a bit trying! And sadly, even government offices and even some hospitals run only skeletal crews! Continue reading

A Broken Leg in Italy

So, you’re on an Italian holiday, with a broken leg… That, at any rate would be a worst case scenario. Thankfully, when I broke my ankle (a few years ago) I wasn’t on holiday, but lived here!

But what should you expect, if by chance it should happen? Well, after recently helping an American friend navigate an Italian hospital (and he was on holiday), helped me see how differently it all works here. When it happened to me I wish I’d been more prepared. But I figured that I can at least give you an idea of what to expect!  Continue reading

Italy’s Mud Volcanoes

Mud volcanoes, or mud domes, are pseudo volcanoes, as they do not produce lava and are not necessarily driven by magmatic activity. They are found in most parts of the world including Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Various types and causes exist, and some are even artificial.

These volcanoes form when hot water deep below the earth’s surface mixes with mineral deposits. This mixture eventually erupts, resulting in mud volcanoes, of which there are 6 main types, including salse. Salse mud volcanoes are water-dominated pools containing methane gas seeps.  Continue reading

Our ABC of Simple Natural Living

Our ABC of Simple Living? It’s about getting back to the basics. We strive to life a more simple, natural life. First, because it’s good for us and for the planet. But also because as Nonni to nine grandchildren we want to leave a better world for them! And that’s why we made an ABC of Simple Living to help keep us on track.

It’s our simple living baby steps! Simple and easy to remember. And even though we don’t manage to do everything on this list, it does help! Because simple concise goals are easier to put into practice. Giant leaps often make a pace that’s hard to keep up with. But baby steps? Well, even babies manage them, don’t they?  Continue reading

Italy’s Land of Narnia

We have great fun asking kids, “Did I ever tell you about the day we went to Narnia?” Wide-eyed astonishment is quickly followed by, “You can’t fool me that easily!” But it’s true! We lunched in the little Umbrian town of Narni, whose cobblestoned streets and ancient arched gateways seem to just call out, “Come explore me!”

Narni dates clear back to 600 BC, when it was known as Nequinum. Until that is, the Romans conquered it and renamed it Narnia! Which for some reason became shortened to Narni through the years.  Continue reading

Our Tiny Italian {Dream} House

We had long dreamed of owning our own home, which with our lack of regular income seemed like The Impossible Dream. But in planning our move to Abruzzo nearly 10 years ago, we learned that property values in these inland villages of the south are unbelievably low.

So low, in fact, that we were sure Mario’s coworker had to be exaggerating. Houses for only €20,000-35,000 — impossible!! But it turned out she was right! And we hadn’t looked at many when the realtor showed us this little place. And what can I say? Continue reading

How to Do Laundry Almost Free {Naturally}

According to statistics, an average American family of four spends around $185 on laundry detergent annually.¹ Add another $39 for bleach, and $66 for fabric softener. That’s a lot of money going down the drain. (No pun intended!) And it doesn’t even take into account the toll all those chemical products take on the environment.

But you can do laundry almost free! Just switch to soap nuts! We did years ago, and have never regretted it! Here in Italy, we pay about €15 ($16) for 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) of soap “nuts”, which last us almost two years! That’s a great savings!  Continue reading