August is a strange month in Italy. By day it’s too hot to breathe or eat, and by night it’s too hot to sleep. August is a month for recharging one’s batteries, a month for taking life slowly. Really slowly. Ideally on a sunbed, ideally on a beach, or, if you REALLY hate beaches, alternatively in the mountains.
Italians, therefore, take the month off work. Businesses close, towns empty, and the roads are deserted, unless you are on the coast road morning or evening.
August is most definitely not a month for working on a construction site. Cement, plaster, and any other gooey substance that a builder needs to work with will “go off” far too fast. The builders’ merchants are all closed, and power tools are strictly off limits after about 9am, so there really is no point in working at all.
Faced with the prospect of an entire month of construction site life, with no construction actually taking place, we placed an advert on a house-sitting website, hoping to find someone brave, or foolhardy enough to come and live in The Penthouse while we ran away to visit family. We promised a pool, and did admit that the house was in a state of upheaval, but this photo, “view of the pool from the kitchen”, did not make it to the advert!
And so The Ozzies came into our lives. They took everything in their strides, moved in, and looked after the dogs, the veg plot, the pool and the “house” while we joined the dots around northern Europe, seeing as many family and friends as it was humanly possible to do in ten days. In case you’re wondering, we caught up with 19 family members, and 22 friends.
The second half of August was spent hosting friends and family who we had failed to see while we were on holiday. The Penthouse was the venue for visits from our Closest Friends, and from our Darling Daughter. Thanks to a missed connection at Fiumicino airport, we also managed to host the the Darling Daughter of our Closest Friends, who just happens to be the BFF of our Darling Daughter, so the six of us spent a glorious couple of hours eating a delicious al fresco lunch at the newest restaurant in our village.
The farm also took a holiday in August, as it was so hot that everything stopped growing. In fact, with temperatures into the low 40s, and no rain at all, the olives started to drop off the trees, the tomatoes in the orto succumbed to a “malatia”, and the poor grapes in the vineyard decided to shrivel, even though we had instructed them to ripen.
But now it is September, and so everything is back to normal. The Builder has returned, and I am back to the commute on my little train, almost alone for now.
Early September is a glorious time to be commuting: the train is an oasis of calm, and Rome is quiet, with few tourists and even fewer workers. Yesterday, with an hour to kill before work, I took a stroll past some of the most famous sites, and had them practically to myself.
And September has also brought rain, so I am just hoping and praying that while I work, the grapes will ripen, instead of getting mildew, because I would really like to drink this year’s wine in my finished, cosy, weather proof living room later this year.
Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?