Final reflections – Italy adventures

Blog #10, 1 August 2017

How hot can it get in Italy? Today the temperature is 41 degrees …

We are in Spello – one of the most beautiful Italian villages. Well, we think it is! This our fourth sojourn here and we enjoy returning to the familiarity of place – and people. The other night at the bar we frequented in the past for morning coffee, we had an Aperol spritz. (Should I let on that this might have even become a habit?) Alex ordered at the counter and to his surprise he was recognised by one of the owners!

Yesterday we celebrated Alex’s 65th birthday with a fantastic meal at a highly praised restaurant, l’Alchemista at Montefalco, about 30 minutes from here.

Tomorrow morning we travel north to the Veneto, and in just a few days we will be back in Adelaide where the weather will be around 14 degrees. We’ll have a lot of adjustments to make to our daily life.

Reflections on our 11 weeks in Italy …

 The Veneto market gardeners project

The opportunity to record oral history interviews with Irene Zampin and Remo Bernno was very valuable. The interviews provide another perspective of two Veneto market gardener families who returned to live in Italy. I was fortunate that Quirino Bortolato facilitated contact with the mayor of Riese, the parish archivist and provided background information. I was so pleased to know that he was interested in the project. Now I have additional background and information to include in my research and a structure for another research trip.


We’ve been so pleased to meet all kinds of people – including some for the second and third times. Last week we had a meal with a man and woman whom we met in 2005 when we came to Spello for the first time staying in their daughter’s apartment. We’ve spent time with people associated with the Veneto community in Adelaide and we’ve been delighted to make the connections. Although my Italian has improved I’d love to be more fluent.

Participating in conferences

Another new experience was to enter the academic world in two international conferences. It extended my knowledge of my research area – Italian migration studies and communicating the history of a small Italian Australian community. I have some new thoughts about my study and I know that it will be a challenge to immerse myself in study again.

Exploring Italy

Alex and I have been in five regions: the Veneto; Emilia Romagna; Toscana; Lazio and Umbria. We’ve spent time staying in, and finding out about, a wide range of cities and villages. Our Slow Food guidebook has assisted us to locate some wonderful places to eat and taste typical regional foods. We’ve covered

Alex & Madeleine, Spello, dusk 31 July

hundreds of kilometres in our little Fiat Panda – a couple of trips from the Veneto south to Umbria and trips to conferences. The choice not to take highways means that we’ve been on some wild lanes, steep roads and high narrow (scary!) passes. Another consequence is that we’ve taken many more hours to travel the distances. Sometimes less is more! I mean travel! Alex has been the driver, always alert and well organised with Google maps.

Next time we’ll do things differently

  • Travel in spring or autumn and avoid Italy’s summer
  • Stay for an extended time in one, or at the most, two places and take shorter exploratory trips
  • Cover less territory
  • Locate an apartment in Castelfranco to stay in and make research easier over a month or two
  • Find local knowledge – best food, haircuts, cheap petrol, environment, Italian lessons
  • Hire a car for part of the time and take public transport in some circumstances.

We’re agreed that we’re still in love with Italia and that we’ll return.

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