I am delighted to be joined on the blog today by the talented writer and author of bestseller, ‘Only the Innocent’, (which is well worth a read if you haven’t yet had the chance!) to talk about the wonders of living in Italy:
I just called in to say “hi” from Central Italy – where the sun is shining, and it’s a beautiful day.
I live in the Le Marche region of Italy – an area rich in history with wonderful old walled hill towns and glorious scenery. The region stretches from the wonderful beaches of the Adriatic Sea to the Sibillini mountains (part of the Apennine range) that separate Le Marche from Umbria and southern Tuscany.
One of the beauties of this region is the lack of a massive tourist trade. The beaches get crowded in the height of the summer, but mainly with Italians. However, they are best avoided at the weekend because Italians love the beach!
So what else does Italy have to offer apart from glorious scenery and beautiful architecture? Well, if you’re a lover of either art or history, Italy is an amazing place to visit – and Le Marche has it all. Our home used to be a small monastery – a home for just four monks who ran a small farm and prayed in our tiny chapel. When we came to visit the first time, we were enchanted – but were disappointed to find that a fresco in the chapel had been damaged. Our architect said it wasn’t worth keeping – it wasn’t very old. We said okay, and later found that “not very old” meant 1872! They have a very different concept of ‘old’. The house, in parts, dates back to the 15th Century, and there is evidence that a Roman villa used to stand here before.
And as if appealing to the visual senses isn’t enough – there is the food. Everybody loves Italian food, but nobody more than the Italians. I love to cook (when I’m not writing) and I have to say that I used to find it frustrating that the only ingredients that I can buy are Italian. Fresh coriander (cilantro)? What is that? Want to buy a lime? They had never heard of limes until about five years ago. There isn’t even an Italian word for lime as far as I know. So I’ve had to adapt to cooking just Italian food. That’s not a bad thing, as they only eat vegetables in season (ask for asparagus any time outside the six week growing period, and they will look at you as if you are mad) – although I have always enjoyed a bit of diversity – from Thai to Indian to North African. The quality of the food here makes up for any shortage of ingredients, though. As does the wine!
Italians do keep the best wines for themselves. We now know that this is a fact. Before moving here I rarely bought Italian wine, to be honest. But now we just go to one of about twenty different local vineyards; we all stand about chatting and having a quick taste (or two) – and then somebody brings out a few crackers, a bit of cheese and salami, and we try a few more…
If you’ve never been to Italy, there are the obvious and amazing places to visit. Venice (my personal favourite), Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast – but I would try some of the less well-known places. Give Tuscany a miss, and try Le Marche, or Abruzzo. Full of character and charm, with Italian people who will be delighted to welcome you.
To learn more about Rachel, her book and read her blog, visit her website at www.rachel-abbott.com , or get to know her on Twitter: @Rachel__Abbott and Face book: RachelAbbott1Writer .