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






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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




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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




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Italian Rustic Decor – the collector

italian rustic decor

Italian Rustic

‘The measure of a life, after all, is not it’s duration, but it’s donation…’

Corrie Ten

DSCF8839 rsz

We almost didn’t enter, even though I’ve been wanting to visit this shop since we arrived in the valley back in April. The double doors open onto a small workroom and as we peered in a man appeared. Now we had to enter, hands were shaken, ciaos exchanged and Sam (love him) did the talking, I feel as if I’ve stepped inside Aladdin’s cave, La Bottega del Restauro.

On every surface, from floor to ceiling my eyes are dazed, a million memories in this tiny room, the history of the valley. Italian Rustic gone into overdrive. After a few minutes he beckons us to follow…..’what’s he saying’ I hiss, and then I am left speechless.

collector bottles dbl collector door dbl

DSCF8849 rsz

The interior of Dario’s workroom is filled with tools, varnish, relics and ancient treasures….a giant key with an ornate headpiece is part of the fresco of old keys along the ceiling. I tell him one day he will find the door that fits that key (in my very broken Italian) and he laughs and nods. I feel as if I’ve met a kindred spirit, he just lights up when talking about his collection. Yes everything is for sale he assures us.

DSCF8856 rsz

We enter a classic stairwell leading up through three floors of room after room filled with more than my eye can take in. Small vignettes are carefully set up telling little stories, and the beauty is that these aren’t displayed in some fashionable high street store but in an old home in the mountains where they came from. A living museum and the passion of one man who has been collecting for over 25 years.

I see items here that I have seen still in use in daily life at the borgata, things we have found in our own home, things that have been given to us knowing how passionate I am to preserve the history I find around me. All I can think about is how much my Mum would love this, she and I would be in here for days, I find the most delicate carved two story stationary holder, so fragile and a little broken on one leg….I gently place it back, when we are more financial I’ll  be back with my twenty euro.

collector pots dbl

Sam starts calling me…..come here quick….following his voice down another flight of old stairs into the cellars, it’s much darker than these images show, a little cold and when my eyes adjust I could be in Madame Tussaud’s. More rooms, ancient doors and ducking heads to stop from hitting the beams, it’s just overwhelm, on every possible space another story, another memory.

The story of the valley people, the women and men I’ve come to love, a lifestyle that is slowly fading into history. Yet here in this unassuming building it has come to life again.

DSCF8863 rsz

La Bottega del Restauro is online

You can also find La Bottega del Restauro on facebook

and the gang x


Christmas in Italy – just to thank you

christmas in italy

“Our Christmas in Italy has bought us unexpected gifts and moments to treasure”

Lisa Chiodo

Natale, or Christmas in Italy taught us many lessons this year. A peaceful Christmas, one without stress, with simple moments and even greater joy. The spirit of Christmas felt alive for me for the first time in many years.

Not about grand gifts or massive meals that take days to recover from. Just about enough….filling our hearts not our stomachs and seeing our children happy with a gift each rather than mountains under the tree.

The true gift of Christmas in Italy I am finding is the gift of time. Sharing this with you all has been a joy with your beautiful Christmas cards and wishes surrounding us, these were my gift and one I’ll treasure for years to come.

luca minion dblLuca found his ‘minions’ in a store window and we had to return to take photos of them all the next day. This is his current love and last Christmas it was ‘Star Wars’. He made little minions to hang on the Christmas tree and I love them.

christmas in italy

Sam had the excellent idea to get the kids a sled for Christmas, we tried it out early and now we are waiting for more snow. Not to be outdone on speed or lunacy Sam then decided he should make a sled from the old ski’s we found. A trip to the local ‘op shop’ and we found a seat for  the rocket sled. A few bolts, some blocks of wood and voila….the boys (Claudio and Sam) have gone up the mountain as I type to try it out. I’ll let you know if they come back in one piece. It was met with much head shaking and amusement by the Italians but I bet it will fly!

A few trips to the shops and lots of fun checking everything out, yes these are fireworks and New Years Eve is going to be a blast literally!

kids christmas dblThe best part of Christmas day was Sam and Carina doing some cooking together, Sam was on the phone to Australia to get the recipe from my Mother in Law for these little Sicilian biscuits. They taste delicious according to the rest of the family…..blahhhh.

Claudio and his family came over in the afternoon and we shared panettone (not for me either) and a few drinks to finish the day. Once the kids were in bed Sam and I sat up and watched a movie called ‘Saving Mr Banks‘ which I highly recommend. Total relaxation…..bliss x

carina xmas spoon dbl

Thank you all for reading along this year and always sending me encouragement, love and your belief in the dream that is Italy…..enjoy Christmas in Italy with us

Without you all our Christmas in Italy would have been less joyful……Buon Natale and here’s to the New Year ahead may it bring you closer to your own dreams xx

I’d love you to share your favorite Christmas moments with us xx





Christmas in Italy – send us a card per favore

‘You may have the Universe,
if I may have Christmas in Italy’

The arrival of our first Christmas card had me thinking as I lay in bed last night.

How will I make this Christmas special for the kids, and all I could see was them opening cards like I did when I was a kid. Mum would always save them for me to open and my brothers always got to keep the stamps.  I love Christmas cards, sending them and receiving them in the mail. That one card arriving at our house up in the mountains made my day, it took me back to my childhood and all the excitement of Christmas.

christmas in italy

Friends and family could tell you that I have a bit of a Christmas card tradition. Since my teen years I’ve been saving my favorite cards each year. I have them from as far back as the 70’s and any that included a letter I always kept. Each year at Christmas I put out some of my favorites usually the ones from Nana, Brad, Auntie Billie, Auntie Iris, Uncle Stan, ones from my Mum, just ones I love. This year they are safe and sound along with all my Christmas decorations at my Mums house in Melbourne Australia.

So I was thinking that this year it would be wonderful to get a Christmas card from you, perhaps with a little story, or thought about the season, maybe a drawing, a little note about your dreams and hopes for the New Year. I’m already imagining them hanging along the beams in the lounge, the beginning of a new collection, a special way to bring each of you into our home this Christmas and beyond.

Imagine the look on the postman’s face if hundreds of Christmas cards start arriving in Malpertus…..

…..leave me a little note in the comments,

send a Christmas card if you are able – ho ho ho love Lisa xxx

 please note I’ve now taken our address down so if you’d like to send a card you can contact me privately though our contact form xx


christmas in italy

 Christmas in Italy could mean writing my cards in Italian x

Lisa signature 2