Bascianella & her Silver Haired Lovelies

Shelling borlotti beans Italian Style

It’s a Family Affair, Shelling Borlotti Beans Italian Style

Our local town hall in Colledara lists Bascianella as having 92 residents, most who have silvery hair, false teeth and aching hips but all manage to still farm “con vigoroso”. They’re as tough as nails and sprightly as any of the mountain goats that together with sheep graze on the lower slopes of the nearby Gran Sasso mountain range. Life here is tough, not a doddle and many of our neighbours in little Bascianella would fall into the category of ‘subsistence farmers’. In saying that, I’m jealous that their working day is varied, their tasks governed by the seasons.

The Busy Bee Ladies

The little ladies of Bascianella do wear embroidered aprons to clean & cook, and of course dress up for church. When working in their fields, those ever so trendy silver-haired ladies always look elegant; they may have a pair of trainers on but their beautiful knotted scarves always add a fine dash of colour against a backdrop of forget-me-not sky and olive groves. Depending on the time of year, making sausages, soap, peperoncini, passata, daily fresh pasta, cakes & biscuits are just some of the other tasks they do beyond tend to the fields, hens, vegetable gardens, grandchildren and a daily promenade up and down the hill to keep their great legs in shape and catch up with today’s gossip.

Domenico, Superman tomato grower

The Wine Makers

Domenico – the best neighbour & tomato grower in Abruzzo

You’ll find the guys of the Bascianella always wear the traditional tweed peaked hats with ear flaps that their great great grandfathers wore (unless they are posing!), always looking jaunty with their striped polo shirts and fleece jackets, it’s amazing how lean physiques make such a difference against our UK retired fatties! Beyond growing essential food, funghi gathering, a bit of hunting (generally boar in November & December), their tasks are gathering & chopping enough wood for the winter, preparing olives and making wine – delicious and drinking us under the table with a combination of this and Sambuca espressos that everyone in the village seems particularly fond of.

Words are insufficient to explain how welcome we have been made to feel, and so I am not even going to try, but just imagine having a host of new grandmothers and grandfathers that shower you with attention, love and food and more food and more food still. Our fantastic neighbours may not run up to you and give you a group hug (but yuck who’d want that anyway), but they will be very welcoming and friendly and if you are a budding photographer and enjoy group shots in addition to landscapes you will have a fantastic time in Bascianella.

Shelling borlotti beans Italian Style

Roddy Newlands
Author: Roddy Newlands

Roddy Newlands is an Associate Member of Life In Abruzzo, as well as antique book dealer and web and graphic designer. Abruzzo allows him to get his mountain-air fix, & satisfy his passion for pasta & panettone.


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