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

Take a Holiday and Save Abruzzo’s Rare Bear [Video]

All parts of the world, including Italy, have their share of endangered species. And Italy’s list is, in fact, growing. From snails and insects to the beautiful, noble, and critically endangered Sicilian Fir Tree. As well as the Aeolian Wall Lizard, found only on a few Italian islands. And one which hits a little closer to home for us: Italy’s Marsican Brown Bear here in Abruzzo.

But why is this Abruzzo bear so rare, and why should we save it? It’s one of the rarest creatures on Earth, and unique among bear species.  Continue reading

Cilento’s Caciocavallo Cheese

Caciocavallo cheese, made from the milk of the famous Podolica cattle of southern Italy, is hard to beat! Hubby’s area in Cilento (around Salerno) is full of these grass-fed cows. The meat is 100% organic, only grass-fed and so good. And the cheese! Well, it’s simply out of this world!

This ancient cheese was first mentioned by Hippocrates, who reported it being made and eaten by the Greeks. And to me it nearly seems a symbol of Cilento. My father-in-law always had it on hand, because he received the cheese forms as payment for renting his pasture land out to farmers for their sheep, goats, or Podolica cattle! Continue reading

When Thieves Strike {And the Value of Stuff}

We’ve had thieves strike. Twice. The first time real thieves, but the second were sort of fake thieves. As many of you know, we have a summer home. And in our absence thieves got in, taking our bedroom mirror and a small step ladder.

Odd thieves, seeing how they didn’t mess anything up and the house showed no signs of breaking and entering. They must have gotten hold of a key somehow. So not only do we now have those items to replace. But we also had to pay for having the locks changed. What a hassle!  Continue reading