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The essential fire

Gathering Wood

by Sam Dunham

Casetta Lucciola roaring fire late November

At the end of October to escape the phone, meetings & get some time to actually write up a marketing strategy I decided to go camp out in Bascianella. I didn’t get so much time as I imagined, I think all my lovely neighbours thought I was some sad desparado, less Roddy, & so was invited round for endless coffee with Sambuca, elevenses of mint pancakes & beakers of white wine which of course would just be rude to turn down.

It may have been the last week of October and officially still but it was cold. Bright blue skies that held a low warm sun in the day, twinkled with stars at night and arrived with a frost every morning. The Corne Grande & Gran Sasso were already coated in snow and my neighbours Italia & Domenico had on my arrival already discussed how  it was going to be a cold, cold .

Part of the pleasure of our little retreat in is the cosy real fire (sadly we can’t have one in London). Hmmm the smell, being able to curl up and read whilst toasting and I did… not but some chestnuts… Our friend’s father Vincenzo had generously left dry wood which we still had a stock of but after it ran out on Day II, I decided it was now the time to be self-sufficient & learn to gather wood.

Actually that is being a little bit dramatic, no foraging is involved, it is more go to the timber yard and buy it, but where was it? how do I say how much I want?! how do they weigh it?!! The question of deforestation, legal logging, sustainability etc didn’t actually come into this equation this time, that will be the next exercise (PROMISE).

So for those others not in the know, urban dwellers, here’s how it works. Drive to the log yard, explain that you’d like some logs to the very patient MD and no not for your wood oven & that you will take them home yourself. Get back in the car drive on the ramps and have your car weighed. Drive the car to the log pile, fill the boot. Go weigh the car. Pay (normally 10 euros for 5 days wood). Drive back. Have your lovely but old neighbours grab their wheelbarrows and unpack the boot and wheel it to the house. FEEL MORE THAN DEAD GUILTY & AN INCREDIBLY UNFIT FATTY compared to their spritely movements aged 80+.

Click here to view a slideshow of life in Bascianella, Abruzzo

Click here to view a slideshow of Life in Bascianella