Sunday - it should be our day off .... well, almost. At least in the evening we went out to the Pizzeria Paradiso with Anna's family & godmother - the evening was cool, the company nice, we were sitting outside on the veranda, the beer was cold & the pizzas tasty. It was a quality (as opposed to quantity) break!
Here you can see the photo where Anna's brothers & sisters are staying.
This is our friend Claudia who has just opened her Herbal / Organic Food shop in a large shopping centre a little way from Udine. Claudia is from the Veneto & the Italians say that the people of the Veneto are natural traders & afraid of nothing. Claudia has an optimism & belief that things will end out well that carries her on in places where less hardy souls would quail! She has located her shop well, as you can see from the photo it is spacious, bright & has attractive products. Let’s hope for the best!
Isn't this a wonderful photo - kids & the dog.
We are really into the beauty, wonder, power of the Italian summer. The days are incandescently bright & hot. It would be unsupportable all year but you know that it is the summer's swansong because by mid September the days will be changing as summer prepares to move into autumn.
It was a very nice day. The place is full of children & dogs, & water from the pool, damp footprints upon the terracotta floor, it is a lovely atmosphere. In these days my cooking skills ( such as they are) seem to have returned - or at least my confidence. I have managed to do a couple of pretty good dinners. It really helps having Luca's garden which right now is in full production so there seems to be an endless supply of fresh vegetables.
Finally, a moment to myself & the diary!
Went accross the road (well, down the path, accross the bridge & through the fields) to get milk from Nicola's stall. He had slept in so all was in turmoil as he has to get the milk to the latteria in time for the cheesemaking. Given that he hadn't even started milking, took the opportunity to skive-off & drink a latte at Bins.
Got back & helped Luca fill in the notification of our next years prices - it runs to 12 pages & must be submitted in triplicate to the Commune. Got all the necessary stamps but noticed that the year on the date stamp was 1999 - back again to have the thing redone & restamped amisdt much grumbling on the part of the official responsible. The amazing thing is that here the bureaucrats who are the recipients of these tons of paper that we must continiously produce to justify our existance complain about their miserable lot. I felt like suggesting that the Official change to another job outside the state sector but guessed that it would probably be counter-productive to our long term interests to open this line of discussion.
Beppina came with her husband. I guess that I can say that it is Beppina without disclosing any confidences. She has developed a medical problem that doesn't seem serious but she cannot work until it is resolved. We were glad that the problem while invconvenient for her doesn't seem to be anything grave & luckily - given our complete reliance on Beppina for the cleaning - have had ready for a long while a plan of what to do if for some reason Beppina was unable to work. Fundamentally, we have always kept involved in the farm a number of local women -all mothers - with some free time every now & then to help out on the various jobs that our activity throws-up (pruning, harvest, cleaning windows to name a few). One of these women is available & will take over from Beppina straight away until Beppina gets back. For once in our little activity we seem to have got it right.
Talking of getting it wrong - tonight Yetmir called around. Seemed that he might have been looking for a return - but I think that there has to be a limit to the number of times you can fire a person & with Yetmir we have surpassed it!
OK - here's how my day went .....
Got up, released the dogs (one of the nicest parts of the whole day - cuddles all around), took payment from a guest, found one of the people who work here in floods of tears because of some kind of medical problem that had shown itself properly for the first time - luckily my Italian didn't extend to understanding exactly what it was that she was telling me (so I was saved the embarrasment!) but I gathered that it was a "woman's" type of problem. Made lots of reasuring noises about these things happening as one gets older & used lots of old cars & garages analogies to encourage her not to hope that the problem would go away but to actually go straight away to the doctor to see what it was. Of course, as I imagine all of us know, as one gets older & little things pop-up or don't work, it is often convenient to ignore the problem - & generally, it has to be said, the problem goes away but it's not really a strategy to be recommended for a healthy life.
Afterwards went to the bank where the assistant bank manager in concerned - doctorly even - tones asked me how things were going. Replied that they seemed to be going well but that in this wretched country there are too many unreasonably high fixed costs - bank charges being among them.
Went into Udine - this is where the photo below comes in - to meet with our architects Maria Grazia & Paola. Two great architects juggling work, kids & families. I met with them to explain that we wanted to abandon the swimming pool on the hill idea because it was just too expensive. This would involve returing to the regional government a sum of money that we had received to commence work. After our problems with the Guardia di Finanza we are pretty sensitive to having public money & would like to pay it back & carry on by ourselves. After a good discussion where Maria Grazia brought a clear head to the matter (& I put some emotions to one side) we agreed that she would speak with the relevant person in the agricultural section of the regional government to clarify our options.
Came home - lunched with Luca & Anne - put on a door catch that three years ago I had removed (who knows why), created a bonfire to burn the smaller branches & leaves of the pine tree that blew down in the storm earlier this month. Sweated literally because it was so hot & figuratively because I was worried that the thick white smoke coming from the wet pine needles might be mistaken for an incipient forest fire leading to who knows what consequences in Italy.
Cleaned myself up. Cooked dinner, chatted with guests, cleaned-up, loaded the photo of today & wrote this diary. I bet you're bored but for me it was a hell of a day!
This morning Luca was up at first like to spray the vines. I intended today to be a day of relaxation & intended to laze around in bed for a while but I realised (as I vaguely heard the tractor going up & down the vines) that pieces of the tree that blew down in the storm of a couple of weeks ago were blocking the entrance to some of the rows of vines so did the gallant thing & got up & cleared them. After that off to the Agricultural Supplies store for more copper sulphate powder as Luca was running out (Luca seems to run a "just in time" operation with our supplies which means that I arrive at La Faula just in time with whatever it is that he hasn't got enough of). At 9.00 a.m. an appointment with our computer guy to hand over the new booking module & scheme for booking seminars & courses at La Faula on-line. Have reduced everything down to the absolute most simple & basic elements - I think that we can say that Italy is not in the forefront of adopting computer technology! After that various jobs around the place that kept me occupied until around 12.30 & then Anna & I (not Luca because he had too much work to permit himself a break) took off for Caporetto in Slovenia.
Entering into Slovenia before Caporetto can be a trial. On the Sloven side there is usually one border policeman who waves you through. On the Italian side, however, there is a whole contingent of Guardia di Finanza (yes, them again) who - unbelievably given that one is leaving Italy - subject Italians leaving to the most severe of checks. As we drove along the winding road I said to Anne that we were sure to be questioned & searched - this is par for the course at any time but this time we were a 45 year old man on a British passport with a 15 year old girl on a German child-pass. No, she said, surely this wouldn't happen - whenever she went through with her parents they were just waved through. We rounded the corner & stopped in front of the check-point. And there they were - 4 officers of the Guardia in uniform & one in tight jeans & tight T-shirt surrounding a completely ordinary looking Italian couple who were in the process of emptying out the contents of their car. As we watched the poor woman emptied out the contents of the door side pockets. The Guardia in the jeans & t-shirt sauntered over & asked for our passports. He must have been about 20 years old. All were young & from their appearance seemed to be from the South of Italy. They exhuded hostility - I imagine because they know that it is only fear of them the keeps the Italians from having a go at them.
It was an ugly scene to see two ordinary looking Italians completely humiliated emptying out the contents of their car in broad view of everyone else surround by Guardia officers. It leaves an impression because they are doing it to people leaving - not entering Italy - it is designed to instil fear & it does.
Anyway, we were saved by the Italians who had arrived ahead of us & were allowed to go on with a surly nod of the head.
The rest of the day was great. We did a 12 kilometer hike around Caporetto passing through first world war trenches, excavations of Roman ruins & the beautiful river Soca. After eating well we went to the Natisone River just up from where it enters Italy & snoozed beside the water, intermittently reading in my case & listening to the walkman in Anna’s case.
Today so exhausted after the 4-day course held here at La Faula. I hate to generalise, but I think that it can be fairly said that many Italians are individualistic in the extreme, don't think of the common good, resist rules & have the gift for saying one thing while thinking, or planning, another. It is so tough - unbelievably tough - providing residential accommodation for courses in Italy attended by Italians. It takes so much time - & experience - to understand what kind of hospitality you need - may - have to - offer, what rules you may impose without
(a) creating open rebellion
(b) having them completely ignored.
Like Italian politics everything is up for negotiation, nothing is agreed until it is agreed & you always risk having the group turn against you if you are perceived as being unfair. It is always a fine line on the razor back!
Anyway, we got it right this time. The previous two seminars we got abit less right. Tomorrow I meet with Francesco, our web guy - to modify the Seminar section of the web-site to take account of what we have learned & concluded from this last seminar. After every seminar it gets modified - I hope inching towards perfection, but in my heart know that this would be too much to ask for.
For a foreigner chaotic Italy seems charming but that chaos - for all here - in the end absorbs - drinks - energy & is exhausting.
I feel good - even relieved - that it went well & that we earnt a bit. But that's it - I need a break.
These groups certainly take a lot of work!!!
Vaccine time! It's not a great day for the dogs when the vet comes to visit!
Today was the day before a 4 day seminar is to commence at La Faula. The photo is of Luca with Silvia, the organiser of the seminar, going over the paperwork. It is a lot of work. We have a large meeting room in the upstairs of the house. For these four days we provide full board for the participants so we are on the go until late Sunday afternoon when the seminar finishes. In all honesty the best part is properly that moment on Sunday evening when the last person has just departed & we sit with Silvia & Andrew drinking a glass of wine, savouring the quiet of the countryside & just letting the tension of the hectic previous days ebb away!
Today we didn't take the dogs down to the river to cool-off. Instead we went to the beach. I should have taken a photo of the beach maybe or of the barbeque at Daniela & Stefano's afterwards. It was, in any case, a really nice day. The only thing that disturbs me is that I seem to have lost the passion to go into the water. When I first arrived here, I spent hours in the sea at Sistiana where we go. Nowdays, I'm just happy to read, sunbath & do nothing. Is this how old age creeps-up upon us?
Today was a nice bucolic day for the sheep. I got this foto as they snoozed in the afternoon behind the barn - you are looking at Mario the ram (he has the black stripe on his head), Dolly & Marilyn.
We had a few technical glitches getting the photo of the day started but now it seems that the system is functioning as it should.
This is Ky with the dogs. As you may know, Ky came to stay with us for some weeks in June & July & had a break away while helping us out. Today Ky returned home to Sweden. So this diary is to say Thank You Ky. Thank you for all your help, your professionalism, the improvements you made to the breakfast & dinners. Thank you also for your good company & your sense of humour.
We really enjoyed these 5 weeks that you were here & look forward to seeing you again.
Best regards - Paul
Saturday night - the grill over - time to relax! Today I was reading an old-ish Newsweek magazine that Giorgio brough us (I give him my old Economists & in return get Newsweeks) about the depopulation of rural Europe & the return of wilderness to the European country side. I read the article, as one does, in the manner of reading about something distant from us, not something that touches our reality. Then, this afternoon as I wandered down the gravel driveway from the house, my eye set upon the large field to the right of our entrance. Every year, for how long one can only guess, the field was used to make hay - it was habitually cut three times during the summer but last year not. And this year neither. I looked & saw that the beautiful meadow is now colonised by small acacia trees (a fast growing infestation from South America) - in another year it will be scrub. It is no longer worked by its owner. But the story doesn't finish there. I looked over to the field in front of our house. We have not made the second cut of hay this year, & won't make the third - the first time in, probably, 100 or more years! With the costs being what they are it isn't worth doing. If we need hay we will buy it. From now on we will cut the field once a year only to make hay & let the cows graze on it in the Autumn. We hope that it will revert to a beautiful meadow with wild flowers amongst the grasses but the decision is purely economic - if it made economic sense to make hay 3 times a year, as before, we would do it. But it doesn't so we too, in our own little corner of Italy are seeing, & participating in, the return of a more wild & less managed environment. I think that this is OK.
But spare a thought for Loris, our friend, who used to make the hay. How long will he be able to make a living from the countryside?
Cheers - Paul
Loverly summer's day - temperatures on the rise again. Managed to slip down to Bin's to have a latte & read the paper with the excuse of going to the hardware store. I do love sitting in a bar, sipping a latte macchiato, eating a brios (croisant) & reading the Messagero Veneto (The Venetian Messanger). The only problem is how to justify the time & expense to Luca & (increasingly) to myself.
An item that got my attention was that it will now be possible to denounce other people on a new site which has been opened by the Ministry of the Interior. In Italy, if you have a dispute with someone, or feel that someone hasn't treated you properly, or you just want to get even with them, you denounce them. Up until now you went to the Police or Carabiniere & made the denouncement & gave a list of witnesses who would support your version of events. The "Forces of Order" as the numerous law enforcement agancies are called here are obliged to record the denouncement &, under the constitution, do not have the power to decide whether the denouncement is valid, frivolous, malicious, false or otherwise. So the denouncement goes to the magistrate who investigates further & (I imagine), decides whether the case should proceed to trial. If it does, eventually, each side goes to trial with its "witnesses" & (I suppose), a judge decides the case. The problem is that there is no initial filter - not even to ascertain whether a law may have been broken or not, so denouncements are a common way of furthering conflict between individuals & getting even &, the so-called justice system blocks up, is inefficient & is subverted by the widespread us of false (often paid) witnesses that each side is obliged to produce to further its case.
Here we have an example of Italian logic, so-called. Much time is taken-up - & wasted - by the "forces of Order" (their words, not mine) processing denouncements - so now you can just call-up a web-site & do it yourself on-line. Presumably, the magistrates will be even more swamped & more cases will be shelved because too much time has passed (it happens often). Obviously, the idea of on-line denouncemetns is not to serve justice. On the other hand, without wanting to be too paranoid, imagine the information the state will be able to glean about people from the denouncements - true or false - of others given freely to an Interior Ministry website. Now that dictatorships in Europe (& pretty much everywhere else) are out of fashion, what would a modern fascist state look like?
Beautiful day! Started the morning early doing the shopping - in the summer it's best to get to the market early - the vegetables are fresh & you can get them home before the full sun has a chance to wilt them. As I returned home noticed that the workmen who have been laying large plastic tubes in the ground were connecting them up to the street lights running through Ravosa & down our way. Looked-up & saw that the lights are fed by aerial cables running between them - but - & this is the best part - the main road into Ravosa from Savorgnano has never had working street lights. We assumed it was to save electricity - but they don't have cables in the air connecting them - so since they were put in, around 20 years ago, they have never been hooked up to the electricity supply. And here I am, prophesying gloom & doom in Italy but now, right at this moment, when the economy is in crisis etc. etc, they have decided to hook-up the lights in this little forgotten corner of a foregotten corner of Italy - maybe things aren't so bad after all!
Tonight Rina began the first of her twice-weekly healthy dinners - it was great - really top & appreciated by all. This is a torture for me. Without any doubt Rina is a great cook but it really puts me under pressure. In the last couple of days I turned-in two acceptable but not quite convincing dinners. Now the pressure is on to bring my next dinners up to her standards. The trouble with cooking is that you can never rest on your laurels. Last week I produced some really good dinners but this week just don't seem to have it. Maybe now that things are settled down here again, Yetmir is gone, Luca seems to have the vineyard under control, the Guardia di Finanza are working away to find wrongdoing in a pile of manure in our barn but they are doing it quietly, I'm just too relaxed to have that edge!
Cheers - Paul
Today was our day off - yippee - & off to Austria we went. Austria is so completely different to Italy that it makes a day away seem like an exotic holiday (an exageration but you get the gist of it). Ky & Anna rushed through the breakfast, the animals were fed, the guests saluted & the doors to the farm buildings locked. Locked tight not because we fear burglars here - no, locked-up tight because we fear a visit from some arm of the Italian State doing a "controllo". When we are here we are obliged to cooperate - not because they have a warrant - but because not to cooperate would mean you would never sleep soundly again. But if we are not here we don't want them snooping around. Imagine living in a country where you are more afraid of the State than of criminals (in Italy of course .... but best not to say that!).
We took Ky with us. Ky leaves on Sunday so it was good to let him visit Austria while he is here. When Ky arrived at La Faula he hardely ate. He seemed smaller than he does now & he currently eats for two (it turned out to be an expensive trip!).
We went to a lake close to the border (after, it has to be said, stopping for a few coffees & scrummy cakes). We laid our blankets down at the lake's edge & immediately fell asleep - instantly relaxed not to be always on-call. Afterwards we read (& Ky being 14 played with his game-boy) & then went to our favorite gasthaus where Ky & I launched into chicken & chips & big deserts while Luca went for the salad option. Ky has suggested that Luca would probably suffer less if he simply fasted for a couple of days a week.
Took the motormower to be repaired. I have been going to the shop, which sells chain saws, electric fencing - all the stuff a farm needs, ever since I arrived here in 1997. It was always chocker - full of woodcutters, landscape gardeners & pensioners - a long wait was inevitable. How everything has changed. The service is as good as ever, Severino the owner is as gruff & brusk as before, but now the wait has disappeared - service straight away. Not only, no more are there the brushcutters all lined-up & being assembled in the yard, boxes of new Stihl chainsaws waiting to be put away. Now the shop is full of garden machinery being repaired. Beat-up old garden tractors, chainsaws of brands I've never heard of - if it can be repaired it will be.
Stoppped into a bar for a capuccino on the way home. The newspaper said that the Bank of Italy had announced that the public debt had reached it's highest point ever. The only comment of the economy minister was that he knew that the economy was in difficulty.
Today went down to Grado & met up with Bruce & Andy, friends from New Zealand. Grado was a pleasant surprise. I last went there in the summer years ago & was shocked (appalled really) at the banks & rows of sun-beds & umbrellas upon which various north europeans were slowly roasting. Adriatic beach resorts are appalling when they are heaving with people. Yesterday, however, there were people in abundance but not so many that it wasn't possible to have a tranquil walk down the beach or enjoy the town centre. The atmosphere was great - relaxed & easy - hustle & bustle. After the peace of La Faula it was nice to find myself amidst it all!
The morning started out promising rain & seemed to put the Saturday night barbeque in peril. We were tricked, however, & the evening was gloriously clear. We had many people to dinner & so Ky & Anna cooked with suggestions from me - the result was great & it was very nice to leave them to serve the meal while I relaxed & looked on. We had as guests to dinner a lady who came to live at La Faula when she was three years old. On Saturday night she was accompanied to dinner by her husband, two of her grown-up children & their respective spouses. The father of the lady was one of three brothers who were sharecroppers at La Faula until the 1950's. La Faula was part of the estate of a large Venetian noble family & they gave it to these three brothers to work as tenants taking 50% of each year's harvest. These were probably the best of times for La Faula. There were 30 people living here, the whole hill was cultivated with cereals such as wheat, there were orchards of apples & plums & cherries. They grew melons. It was a veritable larder & the local kids from Ravosa would come & steal fruit to eat avoiding the sticks & stones sent flying in their direction to disuade them.
During the Second World War, Ravosa & the nearby villages were centres of partisan resistance & the old lady recounted to us the time that there was a German marksman in the Ravosa Bell Tower shooting at them as they ran up the small valley behind the house to get into the woods, the bullets thudding into the soil around them. The men had already disappeared to avoid reprisals & only the women & children remained behind. One of those children was Luca's father.
Today was taken up with blast freezing the meat of our three year old bull that Luca had brought back from the butchers on Wednesday. The blast freezer has an enormous fan & it is a bit like having a Spitfire in the kitchen when it is on. Today was the first proper day of work of Anna who is here with her parents (who are on holiday) but who is helping-out like Ky. They make a good pair - Ky is a good teacher & Anna is very able so I'm hoping soon to be out of a job in the Agriturismo!
The day started very well with the sound of rain - the joy of having an excuse to sleep in! Managed to slip down to Attimis for a cuppucino at Bin's with Loris but then - the weather having turned - it was back to work. In the afternoon we took Bruce & Andy to Venzone to see the mummies (these mummies which are 500 years old were produced through the effects of a mold that, colonising the skin of the deceased, dried out & mummified the bodies. When, as is the custom in Italy, the remains were exhumed so that the bones could be put in the common ossery, instead of a skeleton the grave-diggers found complete corpses!). Before the massive earthquake of 1976 there were 21 mummies all hanging on pegs in a little chapel. The earthquake, however, did for them as the chapel - along with the rest of the town - was levelled. Six mummies were retrieved in a complete condition & have gone back on display.
Beppina, our cleaning lady, comes from Venzone, & she & her husband were in the town when the earthquake struck. Hundreds were killed in the town on that evening - mainly in the streets into which they had rushed seeking escape.
Tonight we had a great thunderstorm - always a big treat with bangs & falshes in the hills around the house!
A lot of things on today - the bull that we had butchered a couple of weeks back was ready to be cut into pieces & packed into plastic bags so Luca had to go up to the "macello" (abattoir) with Maxi his nephew to do the packing & bring the beast back here for freezing. I, for the other part, was involved with the painter in the canteen. We want to be able to bottle our own wine but must have a special room authorised by the local health department. This requires, in addition to the usual wash-hand basin with pedal operated taps, that all the walls are painted with washable paint. The problem with our canteen is that it was once the stall of the farm & so the finish on the walls tends to be pretty flaky. We are having it brought right back to the base & then stabilised with a morter finish.
During the morning I found out that the Guardia di Finanza are pushing on with their enquiry into the cow manure found in the barn. Their approach is pretty clearly to try to establish that we had intended to create a stall for the cows in a section of the barn. This would have needed to have been financed under a different regulation than the one that we used so it seems that the push is to get the money back & fine us. The problem is that there is no stall & the 7 cows live in the open pasture & always have. Despite this, it is extremely disconcerting to have the full force of the Guardia di Finanza trying to establish that you had created a stall where there isn't one. The Italian State must be desperate for money & the Guardia must be desperate for results to have created this Kafka-esque situation but I must say that I will most certainly be glad when it is over. These kind of checks - including those this persistent - are now commonplace in Italy so w have to remind ourselves that we are not criminals even if it seems that, for the case of a cow pat, we are been treated like ones!
Today in theory we should have had the afternoon off. But, somehow, it just didn't happen. Finally, at around 5.00 p.m. we took Ky out to eat an ice cream (although in truth I ended up eating two enormous ice-creams to his one) & then went out to dinner at Giorgio & Doriana's (guests who liked to locality so much they bought a house & moved here). As I'm sure I have written before, Giorgio has a great wine cellar, Doriana is a terrific cook & from their terrace there are great views of the mountains so even though all our relaxation was compressed into that evening it did the trick.
I just escaped from a conversation on geopolitical themes between guests representing old Europe & (let us say) the new world. As a New Zealander I find myself unambiguously in the new world camp but have learnt that on these matters I can express myself in this diary but am better to leave guests to exchange viewpoints by themselves.
But I don't want to write about this, instead I want to write about cooking for a living. Yetmir, our farm-labourer didn't arrive for work for another day so Luca & I needed to adjust our work routine to take account of the fact that we are one person less on the farm. Tonight, being Saturday night, is barbeque night. A barbeque may seem simple, but from the preparation point of view it is very time consuming - one person has to literally be barbequeing so someone else should be in the kitchen preparing the rest of the buffet. A buffet by its nature involves a choice of dishes so just to prepare that simple-seeming food takes a lot of effort.
I decided that Luca should have the whole day free to dedicate to the farm & so undertook that Ky & I would prepare the dinner & that it would be enough for Luca to arrive immediately prior to the meal at 7.15 p.m. I have to say that it was a really stressful undertaking. the knowledge that people are paying us for their meals here imposes an incredible pressure to perform plus, you find yourself simultaneously desperate that the guests should enjoy the food & fearing the shame that would arise should they did not!
It was tough. Ky was great - very cool & very precise which is 99% of the battle won. But I really had to think how to manage the grill & the rest of the meal assisted by a 14 year old who, obviously, is more at home with video games than kitchen utensels! Starting back from the serving time of 7.30 p.m. everything is an interlocking process - everything has to be cooked at exactly the right time & in the right order. It was, in fact, pretty scary. But we did it. It seems simple but it's really complicated to produce a good (I would love to be able to say great) meal at a fixed time for everyone at once. It is a challenge, like sitting an exam - of course, there is always the deep pleasure if you succeed - today we did, so I was able to find an excuse enjoy a few celebratory beers!
"What day is it today" said Ky as we were finishing the dishes in the kitchen.
"Friday" I said "Just think, back in Sweden during the school year Friday evening would be an evening of liberty, on the cusp of a weekend's freedom."
But here, at La Faula, during the tourist season, Friday has no meaning - it is just a day like any other. I had a moment's nostalgia for Friday nights past. Leaving work, the weekend's activities stretching ahead. At La Faula every night & no night is Friday night; you are always free & never free.
This morning I went to our supplier of chemicals for the swimming pool to see what he recommended for the fountain which is now operational again. I made a point of telling him that we had abandoned the project of the pool on the hill because of spiralling costs & plumeting desire to invest in a country which is by turns more oppressive in its attempts to squeeze money out of the private sector & more delusional in its assesment of its options. As he had quoted for the actual "pool" part of the structure I can say that he was pretty gutted. The general economic downturn is impacting widely, & the project would have been a good one economically for him. As it is, I don't think his pool business - any pool business here - is booming. On the other hand, the decision that we have taken feels increasingly like the right one. An infinity pool on the hill would have been really something but at this point doesn't really make economic sense. I spoke to Mariagrazia the architect & asked her to dust-off the very first pool project we had done - a pool in the field where the external pool is currently mounted. She said that she would have to break it very slowly to Paola, who did much of the design of the pool project - after all this, it seems that we are back at the beginning.
Maybe it feels like Friday night after all!
Cheers - Paul