Even by Olive Hill Standards, the last couple of weeks have been hectic.
My poor parents have been trying to visit us here in Italy for the last couple of autumns, but due to one reason or another, all attempts have failed until this year, when they promised to come and harvest with us: well they say that they actually planned to come for a nice, relaxing holiday, but why fall out over details???
So finally, FINALLY they arrived on Tuesday afternoon. SatNavs are rather unhelpful in this part of Italy, due to their over reliance on binary computations, and under reliance on human common sense. Frustratingly, they also refuse to admit that our village (which is big enough to support a bar, shop, restaurant and dental studio) exists. At the end of three days’ driving, and in pouring rain, the calls stating that “we are in Santa Madonna”, “we are in Santa Maria”, we are in “Santa Madonna della Maria” etc were starting to sound slightly desperate, so in the end I popped out and fetched them from the only village nearby with a pronounceable name that their SatNav was able to locate.
First impressions of the Olive Hill were good. The view was admired, calming tea was administered, and Holly instantly renewed her boisterous friendship with fellow lurcher Beattie; but then phones were checked, and the messages from home were noticed. By the end of the afternoon, it was clear that my mum had to get home to see her mum. Urgently. And so we took her to Fiumicino airport, and put her on a flight home.
Friday night saw us at the airport again, this time to collect Darling Daughter, who was also coming to stay for the first time, to celebrate her birthday, and to see her grandparents.
A weekend of gentle, morale lifting fun was planned. A festival of organic food in a nearby village Saturday, followed by a yummy lunch in a restaurant, and a demonstration of Parcour Sunday.
A day spent harvesting walnuts Saturday:
Oh my, how the jokes did flow. Darling Daughter LOVES puns, and my dad LOVES silence, so it was nut an ideal combination. Occasionally, when DD got too giggly, a shower of nuts would miraculously land on her nut, thus silencing her, at least until she regained consciousness and started the nut jokes again.
And then, as we were finishing up, we bumped into Lovely Indispensable Neighbour, who invited us along to help a friend of hers harvest their grapes on Sunday, promising us a car full of them, to make into “white wine, of the highest quality”.
Our own vineyard is a project for next year, and so nuts were swiftly forgotten. We quickly googled “how to make wine”, and realised that step two (step one is “pick grapes”) was “transport your grapes to your immaculate wine cellar, by means of super clean bins”. Hmmmm. Time to stop nutting around and get cleaning. And servicing equipment. And sunbathing by the pool.
Sunday dawned bright and beautiful, and we loaded up the car with our super clean bins, and set off in hot pursuit of L.I.N. who was leading the way to her friend’s vineyard. A truly wonderful couple of hours followed, as we filled nine bins, each weighing around 50 kilos, with gorgeous bunches of utterly delicious grapes. Curious as ever, we asked Bruno, the owner of the vineyard what variety of grapes we were picking, and he confirmed that the variety was indeed “white, of the highest quality”, as L.I.N. had told us the previous day.
The following couple of hours were less soporific, as the temperatures built, the flies (and wasps) appeared, and tempers among our Italian co-pickers flared, but eventually we had a car and trailer full of grapes, and our cheerful little group decamped to Bruno’s barn to weigh the grapes, and drink some of last year’s wine. And I can report that it was indeed white, and of the highest quality.
And so we bumped and thumped our way home, through the villages called Madonna and Maria and Santa Whatever, to make our wine …