There seemed to be no end in sight to my Italian summer with Marouska and Stefano. The old house, the orchard…. At Torre di Lividonia, I enjoyed la dolce vita so much that Marouska and Stefano asked me why I didn’t just stay there for the rest of the year. The sea of dead flowers around the tower was a sure sign that autumn was on its way. Although a little late this year, it brought with it magnificent colours. And yes, I knew right away that staying was a fantastic idea.
I often joined Marouska on her trips into town. But I spent most of my time in – at least near – the house. And believe it or not, I became an early bird while in Italy. Because when you’re up early, you can see the birds and rabbits foraging at the back of the overgrown garden among the tangle of late-flowering shrubs. With a bit of luck, a peacock or even a deer might make an appearance. And if you walk quietly, you can hear the squirrels rustling in the pine trees in the early morning hours.
But the month of November – and the olive harvest – was truly unforgettable. Marouska and Stefano collect the olive pickers at Mateloni Brothers, a traditional Italian coffee shop. It’s been around for years and has beautiful tiles on the walls and floor. Last year, a tiny sushi restaurant opened up on the same street, with a window display full of cheerfully decorated bowls and plates. We began the day with a cappuccino. After all, in Italy, you can’t start working until you’ve had your coffee.
By the way, picking olives by hand is harder than you may think. You have to know exactly which olives to pick, while at the same time keeping your balance on an oak ladder. It helps if you carefully shake the branches of the olive tree, so the ripe olives will fall. Stefano placed nets under the trees, so that all the olives are in one place at the end of the day.
After picking, we gathered together again, this time in the kitchen. Colourful wall murals give the kitchen an old world charm. One of the pickers brought his Hungarian wife with him and she sat in front of the fire embroidering. Stefano cooked for us and I sat at the table drawing flowers with a pen. The Italian voices were like background music and I became completely engrossed in my drawing.
Until Marouska gave me a nudge. I looked up and saw that the table had been set with dazzling white and gold festive porcelain. After all, the olive harvest is a celebration. I’m looking forward to winter. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t ever have to end because every day is a celebration. I hope your everyday is also full of festivity. With the new autumn collection, it’s almost guaranteed. Happy holidays!