Making Salami at Borgata Malpertus #1


This year we (I mean Sam) are making salami with our friends here in the Borgata. We have done this once before but this time Sam made a hotter Calabrese salami rather than the milder Piemontese one.

This is our neighbor Claudio and his son, although Sam was hard at work he was also taking the photos so he isn’t in any of them.

making salami

Making salami is such a traditional part of Italian life, the first time I was invited to join in was in Australia when I was dating Sam. We spent the day at his Uncles house along with all the cousins and extended family, it felt like a scene from the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’.

Afterwards we had a huge feast, at a table that seemed to go on forever. As a suburburn girl from the other side of the city I was in shock. I had entered another country, where everyone spoke in Italian, drank vino, and ate and ate and ate.

Our life together has always felt a bit this way, my Australian life and my Italian life. They very rarely overlap. Two worlds that have their own traditions, set of ‘rules’ and lifestyles. Living here in the Borgata brings this home so sharply, and being invited to make the salami is a great honor and one I treasure.

I hope you enjoy some of the photos that Sam took during the weeks making salami. If you have any questions let me know below, I did ask him to write this post but I think with some encouragement from you he’ll add his voice. He just loves to cook, and has been bottling up peppers the last few days.


making salami

making salami


making salami

making salami

making salami

making salami

making salami

making salami

making salami

Please know I’ll be updating this post with further photos and recipies. I’m just coming good after being really unwell for weeks.  The video is on YouTube and if you are not squirmish you can view it here (warning could upset some viewers).

Sadly I totally missed making salami, but know that we now have 104kg of salami hanging in the kids room in the main house. They are being tended lovingly each day and the cotechino are in the freezer.

So go ahead ask away…….any questions??

Lisa signature 2and the gang x






Savor Life – 5 lessons from the orto

lessons from the orto

 ” Grow your Life from the Heart ” 


lessons from the orto

Lessons from the Orto

Do you grow your own vegetables? Up until we started growing our own food I never actually realized the lessons from the orto would make a difference. That the food would taste was so superior to any I had ever eaten.

Having just now eaten a bright red tomato from our garden I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like it. We picked the first three of many tomatoes and bought them into the house as if they were the most precious jewels. Sliced with a sprinkle of salt and eaten just as they came from the vine……delicious.

Being a suburban Aussie girl I didn’t grow up with a farming background like Sam did, our first veggie garden was in our backyard at Strathpine in Queensland along with six chickens, we were an oddity in our neighborhood. I still remember how excited Carina was to reach in and gather her first egg, now we take fresh eggs for granted.

Spending time in our ‘orto’ has been a learning curve, I love the lessons I am learning. To help inspire you these are my five favorites:

lessons from the orto


Lessons from the Orto – Weeding is Relaxing

I never thought I’d say this but I love the late afternoon after the rabbits and chickens are fed and I get to do some weeding in the orto. It’s my quiet time, the kids are inside helping to get dinner ready, Sam is cooking and I am happily pulling weeds.

I always think of my brother Bradley who was methodical in the garden, starting at one point and not stopping until every weed was pulled up by the roots. He would laugh at my feeble attempts and redo the section I’d done. I love that his spirit feels close to me in the veggie garden when I’m weeding.

Lessons from the Orto – Growing Vegetables is Easy

Especially when Sam is doing the digging, planting, watering, picking and cooking!! But really watching him in the garden is a joy for me, it’s his relax zone, the place where he regroups, and a real source of pride when he gathers the goodness he has grown and brings it to the table for his family to enjoy.

Everyone here grows food, even in the smallest pot, the tiniest plot of land and they make it look easy and it actually is. If you get the chance give it a try or join a community garden.

lessons from the orto

Lessons from the Orto – I’m no longer scared of picking up snails

Our very first year here in the Borgata I have to tell you I was scared to pick up snails. Just the thought had me saying Ewwwww. Now with our raised beds I don’t find many but when I do I can pick them up and I toss them down to the path below and figure it will take them a while to climb back up. I can’t bring myself to kill them, but I send them on a holiday. Now slugs are a whole different thing, no way will I pick one of those up!

Lessons from the Orto – Being Lost in the Moment. 

Living a Simple Life is not always easy, it feels like we have been on the go for years without pausing. Being in the garden gives me a chance to think about nothing else. My normal routine is to feed the rabbits and chickens around five o’clock, then go to the ‘orto’ and weed for around an hour. Sam comes out and waters and usually we end up with Luca helping out and our dog Fiume and our boy cat Bello supervising.

It’s one of my favorite times of the day, a chance to see what has grown, what is ready to be picked, the time when everyone is out and about, a time where I can just forget the worries of the day and enjoy the moment with my family.

Lessons from the Orto – Vegetables come in all shapes and sizes

Well who knew that vegetables came in odd shapes, not perfectly clean, ours come with blemishes and dirt clinging to the roots. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an onion with roots. That cucumbers have tiny little prickles on the skin, that potatoes don’t need a lot of water, that one bean plant can give you kilo’s of fresh green beans.

Oh and that we’d get totally sick of zucchini, that we’d grow massive ones that we couldn’t even give away as everyone else around here grows them as well. That eggplants have the most delicate skins and cook in minutes, that our glorious tomatoes have almost no seeds and are bright red all the way through, they taste amazing by the way. That picking fresh vegetables we’ve grown ourselves could give us such a sense of pride.

lessons from the orto


Lessons from the Orto – to be in the moment, to be fearless, to create life as easy, to remove what isn’t needed, to accept life just as it is and just as it is not.

Go out and grow something!

and the gang x



Completly Clueless – living like a local in Piedmont

, ,


It starts with the locals, with their quality of life, their ability to be happy and their respect for the land they live in. Then the tourists will find a way!” Carlo Petrini ~ Slow Food

Since moving to our Valley in Piedmont we’ve been up close and personal to the local livestock. Flocks of goats come past our door daily, the cows graze just above our house and we’ve even been diverted by a huge white sheep dog guarding his flock when we were out walking. I now dodge various types of pooh on the road, know it’s lunch time by the passing of tractors and returning of the locals for lunch.

I have to admit to initially being scared of the cows roaming the meadows here. Completely clueless I grew up in the suburbs of Australia and apart from the occasional visit to a dairy farm run by friends of my first boyfriend way back in my 20’s I’ve had nothing to do with rural animals apart from taking the kids to the petting zoo at the school fete.

Now I live in a community immersed in the rhythms of nature,  in touch with where their food comes from, a lifestyle less reliant upon the latest device for entertainment. I actually still know very little about this lifestyle, about the role of livestock, the shepherds and their flocks and how it all fits into the Valley I have come to love.

Bobbio Pellice fair

My view of the Fiera is still one of a tourist, although I now know many of the faces and even get to go behind the scenes (this year we saw them putting the mammoth bells on the cows before leaving to join the parade)  I still have a limited understanding of the significance of the celebrations held in May and October when the animals are paraded through our village of Bobbio Pellice.

bobbio pellice fair may

Tradition is alive and well here in the Valley, I see it in the face of a grandfather carrying a young child on his shoulders, a tiny boy with curly hair and traditional shepherds hook (and yes he knows how to use it), the boys strapping on huge cow bells whilst finishing off their second bottle of vino, they happily pour some for us into plastic cups.

Although this way of life is one I may never truly understand it’s one I deeply admire, this community has a right to be proud and to celebrate the seasons. I am as always honored to be a small part of this community and to have been welcomed so beautifully.


at the fair 2015

fair 2015

Living in a medieval Borgata in the Alps means we have goats, sheep, and cows passing our front door, I can literally reach out and touch them. I love watching our neighbors two white dogs round up the straggling cows that feed on the long grass along the road. With a little nip they soon have the herd together and on the move.

Watching the old ladies here hand rake the pasture above our house ready for grazing, I am reminded of all we seem to have lost with large scale farming. They have an understanding of the seasons, the mountains and they can usually tell me what the weather is going to be like with a great degree of certainty. They continue to fascinate me.

marina and the gang

We have a guest staying with us from California, her name is Marina and she is doing workaway which means she helps us with five hours of work and we provide meals and a place to sleep. We took her to see the Fair and she was a big hit with the locals as you can see.

She and Sam have redone the fencing, planted the ‘orto’ and we all spent a day in Turin eating gelato and wandering the city.

She is leaving on Sunday for Florence and I’ll be sorry to see her continue on her journey. As our neighbor Antonio told us, she has a gift from God and a beautiful heart (she is an artist and he asked her to do a painting of his house). She and Carina made apple cakes today, they have been walking the mountains, gathering wildflowers and she has done many sketches and paintings around the Borgata.

I can’t wait to hear how she falls in love with Florence, I spent a week visiting as a young backpacker myself many years ago.

marina antonio

cow at fair 2015

fair 2015 dbl pig

Life here in the Valley is full of surprises, as an outsider looking in everything is new, the ancient traditions passed down through generations are a complete mystery to me, one I hope will remain within the Valley for many years to come.

Now I know the names of the men and women moving the animals from pasture to pasture and to be milked. I can even say I have had a try at milking, but only for a few minutes with no resulting milk.! Our friend made it look easy, he’s been doing it all his life. He invites us to sit down to a simple meal of pasta, cheese and home made vino, an absolutely incredible meal and one I’ll never forget.

A day at the Fair now means so much more to me, it’s a celebration of all the reasons we moved to Italy…..oh and don’t get me started on the local Piedmont food!

If you ever get to Piedmont come for a visit, we’ll show you a side of Italy even I didn’t know existed.

and the gang xcomment




Living Italy – a day at the fair

, ,
living italy

What a difference a year can make, now the faces smiling out of the crowd are friends, people I am slowly coming to know. We came to the fair in our village last year and I felt like a tourist, with no real understanding of the lifestyle, heritage and traditions around me.

This year at the fair I felt relaxed, smiling and waving, nodding to the locals and getting a ‘Salve’ in return. We are slowly becoming part of the Valley, Living Italy, Australiani yes but welcomed wholeheartedly.

While Sam and his friend were off photographing the fair together, the kids (well just Luca as Carina took off with her girlfriends) and I were free to just wander.

I even sat and had a coffee with two lovely German men at the bar, they were on a ‘boys weekend’ and they couldn’t believe they found an Australian here in the midst of the celebrations.

The faces in these photos are no longer strangers, they are the ones who come over to ask after Carina, the ones who smile and nod at me, the ones who listen to my halting attempts at Italian, the ones who stop for a chat and a joke with Sam.

These are the people that our children go to school with, the ones who have invited us to their homes, to birthday parties, to become a part of the community and celebrate all that is so special and unique about our Valley.







 Sam has found his mojo and is back behind the camera, we actually met whilst studying photography. He was taking the commercial stream and I was happy in the fine art department. Not a single one of our friends thought we’d last, yet here we are almost 20 years later and still together.

These ‘Live Italy’ posts will be a way to give you an up close and personal view of our life here in the mountains of Northern Italy.

Looking through the photos Sam took at the fair had me laughing at how different our style of photography is. With him being the chef in the family he tends towards the food, and I love the people. I hope you like this little glimpse into Sam’s view of the valley, it’s nice to get a bit of male perspective from time to time.





I’d love to say a huge thank you to our dear friend from Australia who helped Sam find his mojo again. We have big things planned for 2015 and will be filling you in as we progress.

As always I hope you are chasing your own dreams, and if you come to Italy you know where to find us.


Thinking of visiting Italy next year?

and the gang x




An Italian Feast – The family embrace us


I think most of you know I don’t cook. My New Year’s Resolutions were among other things to serve an Italian feast like the one from Under the Tuscan Sun. Mi Amore is a marvelous cook, he can turn his hand to any flavor. We eat each night in countries worldwide, that was until I took over the cooking.

Sam has been working nights to help out a friend so it’s been up to me. No need to tell you we are all getting thinner. It’s not so much the cooking that gets me in a muddle rather the shopping in advance. The idea of planning that morning for our evening meal totally throws me.

So with great respect for all those who see the words Italian Feast and don’t tremble with fear, this one’s for you.

We climbed and climbed unsure if we were going the right way. Past the ladies washing clothes in the fontana, through the village and at last the right driveway. This is the family of my father in law, his niece to be exact. He hasn’t been back to Italy since he left age eighteen many years ago. The families have never met, yet we are instantly embraced! It just happens to be her 60th birthday and the entire family are there. Thirty people getting ready for a birthday festa, and us.

The first thing I notice as a novice Aussie who can’t cook is that they have three kitchens. The one we are shown and sit in is the “posh” kitchen for entertaining and show. The real action is taking place through another door, the one that keeps wafting incredible smells every time it swings open.  I am shooed out as soon as I manage to sneak in. Secret Italian women’s business in progress.

The  third and most fascinating of the kitchens is under the house, a tiny dark room with a huge pot hanging on a tripod 0ver an open fire. This is the kitchen presided over by the Nona, all in black and tiny she has something mysterious bubbling away in there.

The other thing that I will never forget about this Italian Feast is the table, it was a table which just kept extending. It ended up seating thirty people. Each time they folded out a new section we all got the giggles. Carina thought it was magic.

Even though I didn’t understand a word the entire evening it was one of the best meals of my life. Everything including the meat was home grown. I’ve never tasted anything like it, a simple meal of many courses but the most incredible flavor.  The food just kept coming along with the vino, kisses for the children, laughter, and a family just shining with love.

An Italian Feast I aspire to one day creating….

ciao and buon appetito…

Has food played a part in your travels?

Signatureand the gang x