The temperatures hit new highs with the Italian news saying “Italy was in Hell with the Devil”. On the 3rd it hit 56c at 4pm on the pool tiles, too hot to walk on, and 48c in the shade when expectations were 39c. Inside it was 32c even with shutters closed and fans running. A friend came up with the idea of ½ filling hot water bottles with cold water and freezing them to help cool the bed so we could sleep. We kept buckets of water on the lower terraces for the deer so they didn’t come up to drink the pool and possibly fall in.

Mach1 was guarding the south door. Flat on belly stretched out, tail going, lips chattering, staring fixedly ahead. Totally oblivious was a Hoopoe pecking away hopping about in front of our bathroom window. He was so proud to have defended home and hearth from this strange, not butterfly, that was threatening the house. Took photo but due to glass and distance its a bit out of focus and we couldn't get the cat in too, but very funny all the same. You can see our grass has turned to dust and the grape harvest has all ready taken place in mind to late July in some areas, 2 months early, due to the drought. We were woken in the small hours by Mac1 growling at the door, we though his lady love had come to woo him and he was still not enamored, but in the morning we found a whole row of terracotta planters unearthed and plants everywhere. Salvaged what we could and thought it was odd as there had only been daffodil bulbs in and the porcupines leave them alone as they’re poisonous. Despite pepper and mothballs they were dug up repeatedly and the plants did not survive. It hit us that it was squirrels doing the damage so taking we scattered hair cuttings into eat pot.

Ann over lunch with Annie, Nello etc brings out a bottle of processco and a heart shaped desert treat saying we're celebrating! The Belgiums have bought her house. She'd said her friend Maria, who ran an agritourismo, had hosted him and his wife annually for many years and now they’re retiring they want o buy a holiday home nearby, and brought them round early in the week. He returned with geometra, architect the next day and then asked when he could sign? He offered 40k deposit, so very serious, to arrive by Monday so its a done deal! As they say it’s who you know. It was like Melanie, she stared to pack sure she'd sell and she did. Ann cleared out after 10 years plus threatening to and although she was low having lost the Lake Como couple ( who we don't think were serious anyway) the right buyer turns up and hey presto. We will be so sorry to see her go but know its for her best and the 'gang' does seem to be dispersing little by little so it won't be the same here anyway. Our progress was very slow. The 1st Italian agency, linked to Christies took 2 weeks to set up the web page ( after trying to get 2k in hand to be deducted when we sell from the commission – this was quickly nipped in the bud suggesting we go back to Christies and ask what they thought of this) , the 2nd agency took 4 weeks and the others that were contacted ……….Needless to say there has been 0 interest or showings.

Ann emailed to say the water has been cut off in the village again. So Mike has just been out to check to see if we have also been switched off the water the farming land and discovered we have a leak! So we have turned the water off to the house to stop the water dribbling out of a faulty gauge under the walls. The man was only here a few days ago to read the metre and it was OK then. Fortunately the plumbers had one in stock and it was quickly replaced. We always seem to have water problems just before guests arrive, so far we've had 2 loos failed to flush and needed to replace the mechanism and the kitchen sink tap had to be replaced, now the meter.

Sent an email to Mr Sofia about the road again, but no response, although his workers have been up the last 2 days strimming and using the bulldozer so he must have had the machine repaired.

Our visit Rome on the 11th stared with us dropping the car off for a service and taking the train to Rome. We found the hotel, on the 3rd floor and it was undergoing refurbishments. No air con so the landlady was supplying floor fans but it was still stiflingly hot. Walking we popped in and had a had a quick lunch at a Chinese Italian restaurant as everywhere else was offering soggy looking pizza’s and pasta, which we can get locally. Wondered on to see the coliseum and St Clemente’s basilica a road or so behind. Legend has it the saint was trussed up and thrown into the sea and left to drown but when it recedes a marble sarcophagus was revealed, said to have been made by angles and the sea drops every year to commemorate his martyrdom. What makes the church so interesting is that through a door behind the apse lie 2 levels, the 4th century 30 feet down and the 9th, fascinating and much more than we’d anticipated and the basilica ceiling! The church is sitting on the ruins of an old villa where the secret sect worshipped Mithras, as sort of Hell fire club of its day. It was built on and added to in the 9th century and then the 12th, so we traveled from the 4th to the 21st centuries.

That night we ate the best Chinese in a place that catered almost exclusively for the Chinese/Cantonese and cheap! Just around the corner from our hotel. What astonished us was a group of 10 arrived, had enormous platters delivered, they ate out of bowls with chop sticks (they gave us spoon, knife and forks thankfully) at a ferocious rate and had cleared off before we’d started and we’d arrived at the same time. That said we took longer to choose and slower to eat, including wine the total was under 21 euros.

The following morning, so early that breakfast wasn’t for another 30 mins the land lady had provided a packed snack to eat on the train, we got the metro to the Vatican, started off on the wrong line and had to go back one station, and went straight through all those waiting like royalty and were ushered through to the doors to complete the security checks, more than at the airport! We had an hours head start had 2 and a half hours to see the Vatican collections and still missed 4 as we ran out of time. We were conducted through the gardens to the Vatican train line that took us the San Gandolfo where we were able to see some of the papal apartments again a lot more than we thought we’d get to see, the papal desk his secretaries desk a papal bedroom ( all very simple) 2 mall chapel alters, very ornate, the audience hall, gallery with paintings of the popes and vestments, small tableau's of mannequins dressed formally and the papal cars. We had 2 hours to explore the town and have lunch, a full English with home made baked beans! Then we were put onto small buses with open sides to tour the vast gardens hidden behind a modest gateway near the towns grand arched one. The garden provides olive oil, vegetables and the red sacrament wines for the Vatican. Almost all the fountains, there are many, were turned off due to the drought. We were then taken back onto the train but to our horror it didn’t return us to the Vatican where we planned to catch the metro back to Termini but left us at Rome St Paul's station. The security man (who’s accompanied us through out) said there was a bus, there might have been but it was pulling out as we pulled in. Fortunately we discovered a train was due in 4 minutes going to Termini so we dashed through and caught it and then at Termini had to run from platform 24 right across to the other side to catch our homeward train on platform 1East. We made it with 10 minutes to spare. Feet throbbing and heads full of the days trip we chilled out for the 2 hour trip back. Our car was ready and waiting outside the garage and we made it home to a very pl3eased cat and no electric in the house. There had been a storm that morning and tripped the house at about 10am but only 1 inch of rain and almost no wind, just a thunder & lightening show. No damage as such but the squirrels had emptied almost every flower pot and damaged the plants, so hair, chilli powder and cayenne was liberally sprinkled the following day! We had been most fortunate with the weather as the 2 days we were touring the temperatures dropped but by Ferrogusto 15th, they were back into the low 50’s again.

After our trip we set about tidying up as we suddenly had 5 agencies that said they could come to view before our friends arrived. This was interrupted by us chasing courier vans that said they’d be arriving then not turn up saying we had been closed or they couldn’t find us, a ploy used to not deliver and not get penalized. In the event only 3 arrived on alternate days, two were of the opinion we were asking a bit more then they’d recommend for a quick sale but we’re not in the market for a quick sale and fast commissions and the other said we were priced to sell in a depressed market. We canceled one who on the phone sounded drunk and completely off his head and do not want to be associated by that sort of representative and the 5th suddenly referred us to his boss whom we never heard from. Still we think we have a good spread of agents between the ones signed up with for the next year at least.

The drought continued to cause plants failures, gooseberries, rhubarb and more budlihas seem to have succumbed despite watering but our grapes produced four 2 kilo bunches of sweet green grapes and 2 further smaller bunches & 1 small red bunch. We made Tuscan sweet grape bread that are eaten with wine and cheese or breakfast, 2 where soft and like foccacia but the red grape was more biscuity, no idea why. Our delight has been our pomegranate and the angel trumpet flower plant, both in pots, who excelled this year.

The sunsets have also been amazing.

Collected our friends at the last days of the month and hope they survive the contract in temperature as in the UK it was 17c and here 47c.

Although it’s a lot of work and cost the pool is heaven sent at times like these.

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