Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Looking trim

...and tidy

It is the middle of summer, we have just been blasted by a heatwave and blessed by a summer storm. After the rain I took these photos and I must say, thanks to Paolo and some hard pruning, some of us are looking pretty trim.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pipistrellus pipistrellus

 The Nocturnal Paratroopers

There are bats at Le Ripe and there certainly always have been. When we first arrived to survey the semi-ruins of our future home we discovered bats in the cellar, bats in the bedroom and bats in the barn. Yet they are elusive creatures and for five years now, since the renovations, we have not seen many.

However over the last couple of days I have been lucky enough to sight bats again at Le Ripe. The other evening, at dusk but well before dark, I happened to notice a small, dark round shape zipping out of our bat box (more on this below); I focused my gaze on the bat box and was treated to the sight of a second small round shape zipping out after the first. The image this called to mind when I tried to describe it was of two action film paratrooper commandos bombing out of a helicopter, diving down towards their mission, their parachutes (in this case the bats' wings) still furled behind them.* 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Nymphaeaceae - Water Lily

The Missing Myth

Since our little pond was established in the restored washing trough we have enjoyed the annual gift of a single waterlily. With wonder and joy we observe its opening and closing each day for three days and its gentle sinking back underwater once its flowering cycle is complete.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

San Leolino, Panzano

A Charming Church

the view from the church, looking west
It is a truth universally acknowledged that churches are to be found in the most panoramic sites. San Leolino, near Panzano in Chianti, is no exception. 

The oft-cited explanation for churches' prime locations is: they got there first. More accurately: they frequently took over from other cults and civilizations which got there first. The Etruscans preferred hilltop sites for their towns and their necropoli, often situated on two adjoining elevations. (One wonders if it was simply for defensive reasons.) Panzano is a case in point: of Etruscan origin, it was also inhabited by the Romans who were keen on elevation, when available

the elegant 16th century facade with its asymmetrical portico or loggia

Monday, July 15, 2013

Unsung Local Heroes I

Paolo the Woodsman


log splitting demonstration

stacked logs: this pile is three logs deep

"A force of nature" is how he has described himself. And, modesty apart, we tend to agree. Paolo has been an important part of Le Ripe since 2006 when we first met him, perched on the roof of our barn which was to become the Fienile cottage. He and the master builder Pasquale were responsible for restoring the buildings at Le Ripe over two years. Over that time we came to appreciate Paolo's great energy, enthusiasm for hard work and knowledge of his world. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hanging Herbs

Five years of herb and flower gathering

...nepeta, lavender, origano, curry plant, chilli peppers, santolina, phlomis, everlasting daisies, zinnias, ranunculas, gypsophila, statice, hydrangeas, most grown by us but some given in bouquets

hang from a beam in our mudroom: there they dried and there they stayed. 
Finally after five years of collecting the beam is almost full.