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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





Loft Apartment Opens – discover Bobbio Pellice

stay at borgata malpertus

 Returning to Bobbio Pellice

As soon as I heard the story of this family returning to Bobbio Pellice I was in love with the idea and even happier that they would be spending a night with us here in the Borgata.

They were on a journey to rediscover old friendships and retrace family from the Valley which ended happily when we were able to help Diana, her daughter Elisa and her granddaughters on their quest.

Our very first guests at the Loft Apartment only stayed for a night but it felt like we were long lost friends when they left later the next day. I was totally bewitched by Diana and all her stories of Bobbio Pellice, and the love within this little group staying with us.

Elisa your family are wonderful and it was just a joy to have you here with us.

Autie Mame

We were very lucky to be invited in with them to an old friends house. Her Borgata was on the hill overlooking Bobbio Pellice and had the most spectacular gardens. This lady served us the strongest liquor (home made) that I have ever had. Funnily enough it just happened to be her birthday.

The look on these two faces was priceless, such a joy to see them rediscover each other after all those years.

Of course being our first guests we made a few mistakes, one was not telling them to park on the road above rather than drive down into the Borgata. In the end they abandoned the car, came inside and Sam was able to reverse it out of the old road.

Elisa had been having nightmares about driving into an ever narrowing Italian road and this was it come true.

We are loving having visitors, Sam is in his element and right now we are hosting a lovely couple from America for two weeks.

Oh and we are also hosting a young woman (through a program called Workaway) she is originally from Russia and has grown up in California, the world is coming to Bobbio Pellice.

Elise dbl arch

Elise cafe

As always much love to you from all the gang here at Malpertus.

What would be the one thing you’d love to do if you could come to visit Bobbio Pellice ?

and the gang x








Life is full of beautiful moments

Life is full of beautiful moments

 this is why we came to Italy

for our Children,
for a simpler lifestyle

to find ‘us’ again…..

I love messy, I love life and dirt and skinned knees, I love my kids playing outside, rounding up chickens, open hearts, a treasure hunt every day, joy in each simple thing, picking beans and eating them raw and crunchy, handfuls of blackberries the red juice staining our hands, brisk cold water from the fountain.

Wonderful, beautiful moments.

Winter is coming, the leaves are turning and falling in little drifts. Luca throws them in the air laughing as they fall around him, he knows they mean summer is coming to an end. It’s hard to imagine that soon enough we will have snow, that the valley will turn silent and white, the summer holiday makers will disappear and we will have the place to ourselves.

Three eggs, snails in the orto, a puppy with needle sharp teeth, a dead kitten, our friend Italo and his family raking the hay by hand, the river is the brightest blue green, the head of the sunflower needed to be brown before cutting, Claudio’s dog sneaks in to eat our dogs food, I hear the tractors coming in from the pasture below the borgata.

Winter is coming.

luca autumn leaves

Yet still I dream, of our house turned into a home, putting down roots and having a place where we belong.

Our gift is being able to see through the rubble, the chaos, and the mess to the beauty hidden within.

Our current reality and the dream…. one day the two will merge.

I’ll find that peaceful place, share vino with friends and family, sit back on my deck chair and start planning our next adventure.

Beautiful Moments

Keeping dreams alive, tending them carefully, moving them forward each day……that’s the secret.


inspiration our courtyard

Our ‘Casa Bianca’ continues to reveal herself.

Sam and Sean (our workaway guy) have been working to clear the cellar of rubbish.  This will be the bathroom, with it’s vaulted ceiling and odd little alcoves.

With the doorway being so low we needed to raise it a little. Now you can walk down the few steps without stooping. It’s a little hard to show the actual room as it’s quite dark and only has a small light source.

Oh and that hole Sam is putting the stick down, that’s about a meter cubed of number two’s.

Luckily I don’t have to worry about that, a good job for the boys.

If you really want to see what it’s like inside then you can take a look at this little video I made.

I’ve been through many renovations but nothing like this, warning don’t watch right after eating.

The floor has been lowered a little to give some extra headroom, and yes I can already see past the mess.

This house will be gorgeous.

DSCF2656 editbatch

sam sean dbl

wh doorway dblbatch

DSCF2658 editbatch

wh bathroom dbl

Until next time

Beautiful Moments

Signatureand the gang x

dare to dream


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Rustic Italy – Stay with Us – an update

Stay with Us

“Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary”

Robin Williams – Dead Poets Society


It feels like a new phase of our life here in the valley is underway at the moment.

A positive feeling of accomplishment, moving forward and creating new dreams.

Most of our concern to date has been creating an income of some kind. We are living on the funds from the sale of our last renovation in Australia, this won’t last much longer.

Our  aim is to create a way that we can travel and enjoy our life here in the valley using the internet to build an income.

I’d love to build a community of fellow dreamers, those who want to take the dream to reality.

I never thought we’d be able to come so far so fast, and with such little funds.

house hunters international

We finally got to view our episode of House Hunters International.

The DVD arrived last week on Sam’s birthday which was perfect timing.

It’s such a strange experience seeing yourself on TV, we had no idea how they would edit the five days worth of filming into a half hour show. I’m happy to say they did a brilliant job, not missing anything and showing us in a good light.

We all cracked up at the end with Luca’s catch cry, just brilliant.

Yippeeeeee Dooodle………PRICELESS

If you didn’t get to see the episode leave a comment below and we’ll try to work something out.

sam white house

Although it’s been messy it looks fantastic.

Work has progressed on ‘Casa Bianca’ and so much has been happening here in the Borgata. Sam has removed the front of the building on one side. It was an awful job and parts were falling off, just tapping the surface showed how easily it would come down. Now the face of the building looks more authentic. Claudio is going to sandblast the remaining concrete away to expose the original rock.

Our lovely ‘Turin Guy’ who has bought part of the Borgata (including the small house directly opposite our big double gates) plans to take the exterior wall down and have it rebuilt in September. The original road will be closed for a short time while the work is done. At the moment it bows out a bit and needs some TLC.

It seems like the Borgata is coming to life, getting a little facelift and gathering new people.

In the meantime we continue cleaning out the sheds, the house and getting ready for future visitors.

We hope one day you’ll be able to stay with us.


sam white house sam white house

Why did we wait so Long?

Recently we bit the bullet and created a Host Page on Workaway. If you haven’t heard of Workaway it basically links up those wanting to work in exchange for three meals a day and a place to sleep. Our very first work away person arrived last Friday, we picked him up from the train station after having a brief conversation on Skype the night before. He will stay with us until September.

sam in hole

He’s been fantastic, he and Sam have been out each day working in the borgata. Together they have built a wall, and pulled the front render from ‘Casa Bianca’. They have also done some cleaning inside ready for later painting, and done a bit of renovation work in the entrance. I wish we’d done this when we first arrived.

Workaway is a brilliant idea and one I would have used back in my 20’s when I was backpacking if only it were available then. I wonder how many people would like to stay with us here through Winter and experience the snow, celebrate with a white Christmas and really get the full idea of life in the mountains.

Our Workaway chap (I’ll pop his name in once he’s okay with that) helped Sam ‘dispatch’ the rabbits ready to go into the freezer. Funnily enough he adores animals and our cats and the dog just radiate towards him.

It’s been great having someone to chat with in English, and the locals in the Borgata are a bit perplexed by the whole idea. I can envision a whole team of Workaway people coming to stay once the locals cotton on.

We’ve got more done in the past few days than in the last six months.

It just helps to motivate us having someone here, Sam loves the company and I love the conversations at meal times.

sam with rabbit

onion beans

I’ve also continued with my love of ‘personal development’ and I’ve been rethinking how much time I give to the most important aspects of my life. Where I need to spend more time and where my passions are.

Now it’s more time for the kids, we take a walk together most days and I’ve been cutting back my time online. I now try to check in on our Renovating Italy facebook page (my big passion) only a few times through the day. I’d rather be out living life here with my family, creating new projects, and then connecting online again in the evening.

luca cat dbl btch

How about you?

are you heading towards or away from your dreams?

What are they…… Carpe Diem xx

and the gang x