Tag Archives: gardens

la pigna flora…

Amongst the steep, narrow and dark medieval streets of La Pigna, plant life is everywhere, from the inevitable reclamation of nature any time a space lies dormant for a while, to squatted gardens, to beautiful internal courtyards, to GIANT ancient trees at the top of the territory…

Hidden from the outside; courtyard gardens, beautiful hidden spaces, but like most of La Pigna, all is not as it seems, it’s surrounded by apartments, you hear a mentally handicapped adult crying periodically, you hear heavy rock music playing, you hear someone shouting at their neighbour to “shut the f**k up” …and then i guess everyone else can hear us in the garden…

So the inner courtyard (above) is wonderful for sure but my favourite thing round here is found outside on the public street as a solution to the lack of a private garden :

…these ladies have no garden so instead they created this impromptu vegetable plot on and in anything available against a wall in the street opposite their home, they yield tomatoes, courgettes, beans, every kind of Mediterranean herb…It is so beautiful… ladies i salute you!

These trees are at the top of La Pigna and must be the oldest things here, I am told it is a Ficus Benjamina (weeping fig) – if anyone knows better, please let me know…they also get a great view…

lost in pettinengo…

…in deepest darkest rural Biella i find myself in sublime and ridiculous situations. Pettinengo is a village about 15 minutes drive from Biella. We are there en mass, all the artists in residence, to spend a few days at the home of an association for peace. The founders are maybe a little unfocused and verbally (extremely) meandering… shall we say (spiritual children of the ’70’s and all…), but they are extremely well meaning and generous, they are looking to us for ideas and proposals, the usual…and in the meantime they show us around the village.

Pettinengo has an amazing relationship with horticulture, every single house has a garden that truly is an extension of the home, there is almost no boundary between the two and they fill their plots and pots with flowers and veg in no particular order…it is beautiful and they are very proud and generous with their bounty…The men round these parts are all jam makers by the way (my favourite…chocolate and fig…), they see it as a natural extension of the gardening, thought they don’t eat it, they give it away as presents…

third paradise butterfly in third paradise garden…

cows inside in the shade hiding from evil horse flies that are huge and suck your blood (i was like a pincushion by the end). The tails are tied up to keep them clean and stop them spreading too much muck around.

…and this woman, is quite literally a cheese genius, in her small dairy farm (caseficio), she produces maccagno (rich, full fat, creamy and strong in flavour) and a kind of lower fat toma (less creamy with a nuttier flavour) cheeses that are so good…well you can imagine pushing past old ladies just to get to them…

the cheese cellar, as stinky (in a good way!) as the cheese is delicious…and the cheese is REALLY delicious…no marketing strategies, the cheeses  sell locally by word of mouth and she sells every single one of them…

…and then it gets a bit weird, a local association whose translated name means “little fairy”?????  show us around their premises where they try to keep local hand crafts alive…again very nice but this time also a little strange, they teach embroidery to the girls and woodwork to the boys…???and i find myself again thinking of the 70’s and horror films  and robotic wife substitute women…but maybe that is an unfair analogy, i think it was just the apron…

an of course there was a madonna nera present…

…and speaking of horror stories, there is another dark side to all this nature…Pettinengo had the most aggressive species of mosquito i have ever encountered in my life morning, day and night they dive bomb into my (apparently very attractive  to mosquitoes flesh…) am somewhat allergic and its not pretty….