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News from The Bergamot

Today I am sitting at the beach writing this blog, well aware that l am very behind schedule in my once a month missive. However in these few weeks we have been to the UK and returned here to buy my dream house.

To say that l have been in love with this amazing building for 10 years is no exaggeration. For those of you who know me well, you already realise that patience is not my strong point. I don’t want things achieved, tomorrow or even today, but yesterday. However all good things

are worth waiting for and this beautiful restoration project is no different.

The Moorish influenced arches of the entrance hall are splendid and in the village of Tursi and La Rabatana l know only of this house with so many.

The project is major in that at the moment although there is no water connected to the house, you can stand in most parts and take a shower (when it rains). The moon, sun and sky are all evident.

Our first phase starting at the beginning of June will be replacing, sympathetically three entire roof structures. We will be recuperating the old curved handmade roof tiles (actually formed originally over a man’s forearm) and the ancient timbers where possible. The first stage will also include removing all the old plaster and cement from the outside walls to reveal the splendid stone and handmade brick that will lie below.

In September the real fun starts indoors, planning the bathrooms, kitchens and sleeping spaces. l have discovered an almost abandoned mansion, the summer palace of a noble family which may render some lovely stone, brick, handmade tiles and fireplaces all from the 16th century.

The Mandarin will evolve into two apartments, one quite simple, the other super luxurious like The Bergamot with if all goes to plan a wonderful, intimate, sun terrace.

La Rabatana is steeped in history and completely beautiful, overlooking both the old town of Tursi, Centro Storico and the 1950's new town. Today it’s warm and balmy and l am sitting on the terrace listening to the birds chirping and the sheep bleating. The peace and tranquility of this spot is overwhelming, especially in these few hours after lunch when everybody takes the 'repose'. The clouds are scudding silently across the blue sky and life is wonderful.

My terrace at The Bergamot looks amazing and we will definitely have a good crop of Bergamot fruit this year. It’s hard to know what to use this fruit for, but my favourite idea is to make a type of Limoncello from it. The Bergamot has seen a revival recently, mostly for its health giving properties. When made into a liqueur it’s like a cross between Acqua de Parma, that very posh men’s cologne and a highly perfumed Limoncello. It’s unique, fantastic and a love or hate taste, with an exotic, heady odour.

Our beaches are just starting to be made ready for the Summer, although it’s been 30 degrees today mum and l were alone soaking up the sun, wonderful calm blue sea and sky. Our Lidos stretch all along the coastline and here in Basilicata the beaches are mainly sandy; white sand with clear blue sea reflecting the flawless skies. Calabria, the region that touches Basilicata has the smooth, round stones loved by many Italians, honestly though l adore the fine, white sand.

Soon the lidos will start popping up along the coast, offering....sun loungers, umbrellas, ice-cream and Aperol Spritz. Virginia Bay, closest to The Bergamot is a wonderfully simple establishment with great music, lovely staff and an atmosphere second to none, we go everyday in the summer and its always a delight.

So maybe this is the end of my second blog, next time l promise recipes and some of Basilicata’s secrets, steeped as we are in Pagan myth and magic. Yes the religion is Catholic here, but you need to read Carlo Levi's great work 'Christ stopped at Eboli' to really understand the undercurrents that still exist in this remote part of Italy.

We are waiting for you to share a part of history…until next time.

Martine x

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