My rennovation inspiration

 expat in italy, gardening, sardinia, sardinian farmhouse, Sardinian Life  Commenti disabilitati su My rennovation inspiration
Lug 282016

When We bought our house I had just come back from travelling around India and the surrounding countries. I fell in love with the havellis in Rajisthan and the Portuguese villas of Goa, Kerela and Sri Lanka. Sardinian architecture leaves a lot to be desired and country properties in particular were built to be practical and little else. Still our house felt like it had character, it was built by a wealthy (for the countryside) family who owned a lot of land in the early 1940’s. They tried to create a house similar to those in the city with high ceilings and tall windows, inside however has low doorways!

Rajasthan HavelliWe knew from the outset we would extend our house, I loved the idea of a veranda or roof terrace, enjoying a breeze in the shade sipping a lime soda. Ahhh, those were the days! I knew we’d need some areas which would graham and green goa villastay cool in the hot summer months. Havellis do a great job of this with rooms built around a central open courtyard. I was lucky enough to stay in the villa owned by Antonia Green, co founder of Graham and Green. It too benefits from a central open courtyard, however, the Goan climate is slightly different from Sardinia’s and I don’t think we’d appreciate the chill in winter!

portuguese villa in goaAs our house was built on a slope, we decided that where you enter the house, the ground floor, would be the day time zone with lounge, dining room and kitchen etc. And the extension would be built at lower ground floor level and house the bedrooms and bathrooms. In fact the house actually has 5 levels! Up a few steps to the kitchen, down a few to the family bathroom and shower room, down a few more to 2 bedrooms and down again to a further 3 bedrooms which have their own private access and en-suites built in the extension. Eventually we will convert the loft space so our children each have a bedroom. The extension was built on the back of the house and is roughly 80sqm and the roof is a terrace accessed via french doors from the dining room with steps down to the garden.

I also found inspiration on websites such as Mr and Mrs Smith and Olivers Travels looking through their Italian properties. Unfortunately, Pinterest had yet to be invented!

The reality of living in Sardinia

 expat in italy, food, gardening, sardinia, sardinian farmhouse, Sardinian Life  Commenti disabilitati su The reality of living in Sardinia
Lug 262016

If you love Sardinia and think you’d like to live here full time then here are a few things you should bear in mind:

tempio pausania sardiniaWork.

Do you need to work or will you be retiring? If you need to look for work then you should speak fluent Italian or be CELTA qualified with 2 years experience (or the equivalent qualification for teaching another sought after foreign language such as German, Russian French or Spanish). There is teaching work in Sardinia, however without experience and any knowledge of Italian you may find it difficult to get many hours. If your Italian is good enough you could get seasonal work in a hotel or restaurant. These are generally 4 month contracts which include accomodation. There is little other work. You could translate but you need a very good knowledge of Italian.

Or perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who got transfered to Sardinia…. it does happen.

I’ve lived in Sardinia for 7 years, I have a degree in Graphic design, a CELTA and speak fluent Italian, Last year I started teaching and have continued this year, gradually building a reputation. I now also translate part time. I’m lucky to have a job.

My husband speaks fluent English and French along with Italian, he works 4 months a year as a restaurant manager. It’s not easy supporting a family with so little work. If you’re interested on reading more listen to Jennifer Aventura too.

Many places will only offer a temporary contract so you can forget about things like loans, mortgages and credit cards.


Learning Italian is a must. Get lessons, throw yourself into Italian life unless you want to live in a bubble of expats with whom your only common ground is probably the English language. This was my experience anyway. Most English people I know who live near me are retired, they don’t have much time for me and my brood and I don’t think they understand the daily struggles of life in Sardinia.

cabu abbas, perfugas, sardinia


Life in Sardinia is slow paced, old fashioned and ridiculously frustrating. There is a form for everything, and they need to be filled in every year, (for example, child benefit should be reapplied for every year even if no changes have occured.) You really do need to know lots of people otherwise things just won’t happen for you, I had been waiting for over 6 months to get my daughter assessed for speech therapy, when I mentioned it to my friend she said, oh my friend works there, I’ll call him. So we got an appointment. The SYSTEMS are long and complicated, I bore myself talking about it, in fact, I can’t really think about it beacuse I find it so frustrating. People shrug it off and say, oh well in England things are different. But some of it is common sense and laziness. Too many people have jobs because they know someone at the top. Hence lots of incompetent people – mainly within the councils.


home grown baby water melonProbably the best aspect to living here is the fresh and organic produce. If you live in the countryside then you and your neighbours will likely have an ‘orto’ veg patch. People share their bumper crops amongst friends and family. I rarely buy fruit and vegetables during the summer. There are lots of wild fruits that you can pick from along the roads too. Figs, prickly pears, blackberries, pears, almonds, asparagus, mushrooms.


The landsardinian countryside, perfugas, domos cabu abbas
I live in the countryside in north central Sardinia. An area known as Anglona. It’s handily positioned between 2 airports. It’s blissfully quiet. All I hear through the winter is the sound of cow bells in surrounding fields, in the spring the frogs wake up and sing their hearts out and in the summer the air is filled with the sound of crickets. It’s beautiful. It’s a shame so many tourists don’t bother with central Sardinia, it has a lot to offer, huge lakes, moutains, great bike paths, rivers, nuraghes and traditional villages.

Let’s not for get the beaches, although, if you have to work like most Sardinians throughout the summer months, you won’t get much chance to enjoy these! This is Tinnari, a cove once used by pirates and accessible only by a very steep and difficult footpath or by boat excursion, it’s worth the hike though, it’s hard to find (almost) empty beaches in August in Sardinia.

tinnari, sardinia, pirate cove


Lug 022016

So, when faced with a wheel barrow full of courgettes, a soup is always a great way to get rid of a lot in one go.courgette glut

The recipe I found was easy to make and I used to throw in cooked pasta, my young children really enjoyed it, well after a while my son did say “not courgette soup again!”

Basically this recipe was fried onion, garlic, courgettes (lots), some potatoes to thicken it a bit and veg stock. After cooking for about an hour I pureed then added a carton of cream, salt and pepper. It was a nice light soup and no complaints from the kids. When it’s 40c you don’t always feel like a bowl of steaming soup but you can always freeze it. I froze single portions in freezer bags so I could take them out one at a time.courgette soup

This year however, I’ve adapted the recipe a little and me and the kids really love it although we’ve not been mixing it with cooked pasta as it’s thicker. I know it’s not very Italian but they have been enjoying a sandwich and soup lately!

For this soup I used 3 sticks of cellery, 2 onions, lots of courgettes, carrots and potatoes. I lightly fried the onion, cellery and courgettes, then added veg stock with the carrots and potatoes. After cooking for about an hour I pureed it all.

courgette and carrot soupMy children aren’t great with veggies so I find soup is a great way to get them eating more and more varied vegetables. In fact my youngest (Rafi is nearly 2) asked for second helpings and my eldest (Luca is 6) asked when we were having the lovely soup again! Compliments all round. Brava Mamma!

More courgette ideas coming soon!!!

Lug 022016

One of the most amazing things about living in the Sardinian countryside is being able to have a huge veg patch, in fact, mine is allotment sized! As we live in a old farmhouse we have a walled off area that would have been used for pigs.

The soil around the house is terribe, it’s basically dust, topsoil is non existent. Luckily this walled area, next to the woods, is super fertile and benefits from lots of leaf fall.


I don’t have any fancy machinery, unfortunately just a spade and a hoe (my rake has disappeared!) So it’s difficult. I grow all my plants from seed. And I threw in a few extra courgette seeds in case they didn’t all come up. They ALL came up! So, not wanting to throw away a healthy plant, I put all 6 in. Well, it was a funny summer. We had a lot of rain, huge thunderstorms followed by really hot days then more rain, more sun…. It was nice not having to worry about watering. At first it was fun collecting all the courgettes, my children love picking our veg. In the picture below, my son is 4 and my daughter is 2, the biggest courgettes weighed nearly 2kg!


The fun aspect soon passed, we’d go to the beach for a few days and when we returned were faced with literally bucket loads of courgettes. We gave lots away but also started eating courgettes with every meal. It was challenging finding recipes that the children might like. So I’ll share a few child friendly courgette recipes with you!!!!

courget glut