East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Little unplanned-for adventures

Two nights ago, I sat in the courtyard during one of the most impressive electric storms I ever witnessed. Clouds chased each other in the sky, the roll of thunder echoed over our village, and flashes of light made the countryside and the deserted streets of Castelnuovo Belbo look like a Hammer movie set.
I was half-expecting to see a carriage drive up the lane, carrying Peter Cushing or, with a little luck, Ingrid Pitt.

Instead the night only brought a drop in temperatures, from 40°C to a much more manageable 18°C.

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Black out

As you are reading this, we are offline – they are doing some maintenance work on the next street, and the whole neighborhood will be off the electrical grid until 2 pm.

So we have a double plan, me and my brother.
If it’s a good day, we’ll go for a long walk.
If it’s foggy or rainy, then Plan B will be stay in and catch up with our reading.

I am trying to put together a Halloween story, and being in the middle of nowhere without electricity is a good source of inspiration.


Discussing mummy resurrection practices on the devil’s radio

One of the things that will never cease to surprise me about living in a small community, is the way in which news and (mostly) gossip travel fast.
Maybe that’s the reason why you can’t get high-speed internet connections here: they are superfluous, as gossip travels faster than your average fiberoptic cable, and does not need servers of platforms except for the bench outside of the local bar, and the doctor’s waiting room.

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Going wild

While with my brother we were on the hunt for the field mice that have taken residence in the darker corners of our house, and while we were trying to ascertain if it is a hedgehog or something larger that has been raiding our trash bin, the local news informed us that the number of sheep and fallow deer attacked by wolves in our area is increasing.

The countryside is going wild.

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Lost in the countryside

51xfB36OKBL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_In a (probably misguided) attempt at coming to terms with my exile in the hills of the Asti wine country, I got me a copy of John Seymour’s classic The Countryside Explained, which – if nothing else – has the right reassuring title.The very fine used copy of the hardback kept

The very fine used copy of the hardback (with great illustrations by Sally Seymour) kept me company in the last two days when we were snowed in and with erratic grid services. As expected, the book is absolutely wonderful. Lots of information, packaged with wit, a sort of gruff, down-to-earth but precise language that works just fine. Continue reading