Sunday, 16 November 2014


We thought this was a bread board but it turns out to be a washboard used for hand washing.I might give it a try!

Its amazing the difference in the areas of bricks left un cleaned and oiled with the area on the right

Roman Villa - Manoppello

This Roman Villa was only excavated recently and is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday as to reach it you have to walk through the garden of the land owners. It is not a spectacular site compared to places like Villa Adriana in Tivoli but of great importance locally. The villa is built on a high plain close to the Abbey of Santa Maria Arabona which itself was built over the site of a Roman altar dedicated to the goddess Bona.
The goddess was worshiped in this area and the nearby valley is called Vallebona. 

There are some very informative notice boards describing the villa site and its importance as well as the history of the local area. The pictures in the middle of the notice board are of a stone head found in the walls of a private house in Manoppello and now kept in the museum in Chieti. The stone head is believed to be of the same age of the Capestrano Warrior.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Roman Remains? The Big Dig

We broke up an apron of cement that had been laid down up to the wall of the kitchen as we wanted to allow the base of the wall to dry and under the cement we found an area of foundation that looked as though it was put down for the stone steps that would have led up to the main door of the church. clearing out soil around the foundations I dug up 5 separate pieces of a cement like rock which resembles the cement romans made from lime, quartz and sand.
As can be seen from the first picture there are also small bits of terracotta in the 'cement '
Whether this means that our house is build on a Roman site or just that some roman building materials were around locally when the original church was built ?
2 more pieces of cement material and a terracotta floor tile with some paint/plaster on surface.

Abruzzo Ceramic Dishes from Lanciano pottery

2 lovely pottery dishes we bought from a local antiques dealer in Pescara the dishes are around 100-200 years old but we have not been able to find out very much about the production of domestic pottery in Lanciano.


Friday, 4 July 2014

Making paint

You'd be forgiven for thinking I'd gone totally mad but this is a pan of Wheat flour paste a binding agent for clay paint as well as the basis for my Adhesion Coat applied to the chalky gesso walls shown in the picture below.
The brilliant thing about Clay Paint is that you can make it up then dry it in metal pans to be stored and reconstituted when needed. The thing to avoid is to leave it to dry in pans over 1cm deep or the flour paste may start to ferment before the paint is totally dry. The sour smell will spoil the paint.
To make Clay Paint you need to mix dry clay with wheat flour paste and pigments. OR you can use wet clay which should be screened to remove stones. This clay can be dug up locally.

Recipe -use a mortar whisk to mix

 1 part clay (this is  dry clay) if you use wet clay you will not need more water
10 parts wheat flour paste
and if wanted 1 part fine sand -I leave out the sand to make it smoother.
If you are using pigments mix up with water before adding to the paint.

hornet's nest

It has been fascinating to watch this nest being constructed by a female hornet. It took her about 3 weeks to complete it and needless to say I have not opened this window!
It should act as a very good deterrent to anyone thinking of trying to get into the house.

Stone House for sale

This 2 bedroom stone house in rural surroundings above Lettomanoppello is for sale by its owner. If you are interested please email me.

Ricotta cotto

Our local cheese maker has come up with this fantastic cheese

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Buying secondhand

Not everyone wants to furnish straight from IKEA but where can you buy good 2nd hand stuff in Abruzzo? I've tried many places and find generally prices are ridiculous - try the MERCANTINO stores that are opening up all over Italy. They have one behind Obi in Pescara. You can also sell your stuff here and they take 50%.It's a bit of a queue to get signed up so when you do it bring some things you want to sell or you will only have to queue again when you next come in.
Reclamation costs are similar to the UK and old floor tiles cost between 1.5 and 2 euros each. Its best to avoid those with cement as it takes for ever to remove!
There is a yard in Silvi Marina where you can find roof and floo tiles BUT beware do not leave these outside your house while you are away or they will be stolen! Take them inside or at least cover them up well.
I like this Scandinavian style of white and vintage furniture

Mercantino -2nd hand stuff to buy and sell

Affiliato | Mercatinousato