Dog attacks, the abandoned village and gigs!

Buongiorno a tutti!

Well it’s been a very mixed couple of weeks here.

Generally I thoroughly recommend being an ex-pat. Living abroad and learning a different language and about a different culture is eye-opening. Every day is exciting because there’s always something new, something weird on the TV, a strange festival you’ve never heard of or a new phrase to learn. I don’t know whether that lets up at some point after years in the country, but at the moment I find it just as refreshing for the soul as ever almost three years on. However, being an ex-pat does come with its down sides. The most difficult thing by far is being away from friends and family and rather than it getting easier with time, it gets harder as everyone, including me rather depressingly gets older and frailer. It’s only a 2 hour flight to get back to the UK from where I live in Italy but it takes a full day by the time you take into account getting to and from airports etc. Then of course it’s difficult to drop everything in your new country because you’ve built a life there – work commitments etc. And herein lies the heart of the matter, deciding to live away from family and friends because the weather is nicer and it’s just more exciting, seems an inherently selfish choice! It becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile that choice when something bad happens at “home”. Last week, my grandmother died. So, it’s been a sad few days but I feel somewhat cheered that she fully supported my life over here. Despite being almost ninety she used to always read by blog and when I came home was full of questions.

On a far less depressing note…. I finally got to go to a place I’ve been meaning to for the last few months, Laturo. Laturo is a little village in the middle of the Abruzzi Mountains. In the 1950’s there were 50 families consisting of about 200 people living there. By the end of the 1970’s the last family had left and the village was left to go to ruin. It really is in the middle of nowhere, there are no roads to get there. I had attempted to come here with a group a couple of months back but I mistook directions. Now some of the houses have been bought, vegetable patches have been planted, a new church has been built and other aspects are all slowly being restored with the help of a group called Amici di Laturo (Friends of Laturo). We met a few other walkers/explorers whilst we were there and were offered a beer with them! I hate beer. I know that people’s tastes change over time and I’ve actually grown to like olives and coffee when before I would have thought I was being poisoned. So every so often, I try beer. Usually I’m left wondering why beer manufacturers go to such lengths to make the stuff when the dregs of my washing up water probably taste the same. Anyway, in Laturo, drinking with some random men, I discovered a beer I actually like. But it was a local artisan beer that the guy had bought with him that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find it again! Anyway, what nice people you can meet out and about 🙂

Laturo (1 of 1)

Overlooking the  mountains…

I also went to see an Italian / Irish music band last week at a pub in Civitanova. You might remember a few weeks ago I went to see an Italian / American Country music band and was gobsmacked at how authentic the music and accents were. This time was the same – authentic even to the point of not understanding half of the words.  Anyway, that was a lovely night and I discovered that the pub does a good veggie burger meal!


The Green Mussels 🙂


And my doodle of them on a place mat!

Weather wise it’s been a very interesting week! At the beginning of the week there was so much wind I’m surprised it wasn’t called a hurricane! One tree blew over by the house blocking one road and a big branch fell down blocking another. It’s been good for wood collecting though to top up my supplies which I’m a bit worried about to be honest! Yesterday we had our first snowfall and today it continues! Hopefully I’ll be able to get out and do some snowboarding this week.

In other news, I’m just in the process of getting house insurance. Buying insurance here isn’t a simple case of going online to one of the comparison sites. I can only think of one here and it gives you about 3 very expensive options.  You can go to specific companies and they might be able to give you a quote but even that’s rare. It seems an absolutely archaic way of going about things, actually having to SPEAK to someone! Still, I braced myself and contacted my Insurance Man who sold me the car insurance. I told him how much I paid last year and what the policy covered (that was an online thing but for stupid reasons, I couldn’t renew it this year) and he came back with a much cheaper and better policy. So perhaps this archaic way of going about things isn’t really all that bad.

I’m on a “making bread stocks” mission at the moment. I’ve just made several sourdough loaves and next up is pita bread, hamburger buns and pizza bases. I’ve also resolved to make a new recipe every week so working my way through my new Christmas recipe book as we speak (thank you Mum & Dad!).


And this morning I narrowly escaped (in my opinion!) being mauled to death by four angry dogs. There’s a breed here local to this part of Italy, Pastore Maremmano. They protect sheep flocks from wolves so they’re pretty vicious when they need to be. And very, very protective. I went for a walk this morning nearby. I could hear the gentle jingling of sheep bells but didn’t think much of it. When I turned a corner, two of these large dogs came running at me, teeth bared.  I thought that was the end of me! They slowed down and followed me up the road and then another one came running behind me barking. Then there was another one up ahead that had thankfully just veered off the road so I could at least head back home and then another one joined in at the side to ensure I was properly scared away (I was, I was!!). I shall not be walking here on my own for a while.

I think that about sums up the last couple of weeks here. I hope you’ve all had good weekends! I’ll leave you with a photo I took on the mountain above the Garulla Rifugio last week…

Laturo (9 of 9)





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12 thoughts on “Dog attacks, the abandoned village and gigs!

  1. Very deep. There is a price to pay for wherever we live. There is no utopia and I do understand the need to be closer to family.

  2. secretsarnano

    What would I do without your blog to connect me to our town !! The bread looks great! Xxx Stacey

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Peter G

    Sorry to hear about your nan.

    Just discovered that Sarnano has a webcam:

    • Thanks Pete. Wow I had no idea! I’ve been looking at it for 5 minutes now and I still can’t sort of work out where it is!!!! That’ll make me less homesick when I’m over.

      • david gerstel

        if you head away from piazza geribaldi and against the one way road past the cinema, thats about where the web cam is, because you can see the main square and the hotel terme on the right of the photo.

  4. david gerstel

    I live in montreal part of the year, and part in sarnano’s centro. i ride my three wheeled trike daily to all the hill towns in the area. In the fall i was on one of the back roads off of rustica and i came through a flock of sheep guarded by the merrramas. they did not attact but i sure pedaled faster. and i have a similar dog in canada, the kuvasz. they won’t hurt you if you don’t threaten them and back away. don’t look them in the eye. they hate that. i like your blog.

  5. david gerstel

    i live part of the year in Montreal and part in the centro of sarnano. and i ride my three wheeled trike daily to all the surrounding hill towns. i was riding last year on a back road off rustica and i went through a flock of sheep guarded by the maremmas. they certainly made me pedal faster to get away. i have a similar dog in montreal, the kuvasz, and i can tell you, don’t threaten them and back away slowly. they won’t come after you. Don’t look them in the eye, it’s a dominance thing.
    If you see me triking in march/april/may, say your blog.

    • Hi David! Lovely to hear from a fellow Sarnano person! What a lovely combination of living locations 🙂 I love Montreal. Well done for escaping the dogs – they do seem to be able to hot foot it when they want to. Good tips though – I really didn’t know how to deal with it, I turned my back on them and walked slowly away but I didn’t know if you were supposed to do that or not – I had visions of one of them leaping on me from behind! You’ll have to let me know when you’re in the area and we can meet up for an aperitivo! 🙂

      • david gerstel

        happy to meet. my email is if you want to drop me a private note.

        there are always a few dogs that go wild. i usually carry a pull away knife, but the best defense is keeping aware of your surroundings. i think its better to back up, eyes down but facing the threat.

      • Next time I’m going to do that!!! I’m just about to send you an email… A presto! x

  6. david gerstel

    oh, forgot this. the kuvasz, the meramma, the great pyrenees, the ashbak, are all the same. they are protectors, not attack dogs. my kuvasz will spot another dog coming toward me from 100 yards and will shoulder the other dog aside unless i tell my dog its ok,.

    • I could do with a dog like that. I’ve got a protective cat who delivers a good scratch if he’s jealous of anyone but I think he lacks the muscle! After I got back I looked on the internet to see if there were any stories of maremmano’s attacking anyone and there do seem to have been a few rogue incidents :-s

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