An American couple, Devon and Halbi, were staying with Ugo when I arrived and stayed for the following week. I pottered around doing a variety of different tasks with Ugo, from trimming the suckers off olive trees, thining the leaves around the grape clusters on the vines, to chopping down trees, clearing a trench and building a retaining wall. Generally Devon, Halbi and I would start at between 7 and 8am and work for 4 hours so we could take the afternoon, when the temperatures hit 35 celcius, off.
In the olive grove if olive trees are left to themselves they go completely wild. Shoots begin to grow from the base of the tree, from the inside of the branches and directly upwards from the foliage branches. These are called suckers and don't give any fruit. Several weeks before harvest we go around and trim these off so more energy is directed to the olives. The tree when it is trimmed right should look like a cup, i.e. the inside should be completely hollowed out so the sun can access both sides of the branches.
In the vinyard, several weeks before harvest, we go around and thin out the leaves on the vines especially around the grape clusters. This directs more energy and sunlight/heat to the grape clusters giving more flavor to the grapes.
One of the afternoons the neighbours donkey escaped and wandered up to our place. We found him taking a break from the sun under the house. We offered him apples and other treats before leading back to his home.
On one of the days, as a treat, Ugo took Devon, Halbi and I out to a natural outdoor sulfer spring for a dip. There was a was a series of pools as water ran further down the hill. The higher pools were cool and there was one pool lower down the hill which was extremely hot. We started in the cooler pool, then afetr about half an hour we move down to the hot spot where we spent about fifteen minutes laying down before a quick cool off in the cooler pool again. On the way down the hill we passed a great white rock which had changed colour due to the sulfuric water coursing over it. As you can see by the pictures it was pretty sheltered by the trees. On the second Monday following my arrival Devon and Halbi moved on and Ugo and I began to focus more on the retaining wall.
We headed out regularly to the local markets, one of which is in a beautiful town called Montepulchiano. I found a wonderful vendor who sold freshly marinated olives, wild boar sausage, and a variety of cheese including buffalo mozzeralla. Most of the markets sell a variety of different goods from fresh vegetables and meat, to clothing and olive harvesters. On a normal market day we spend more time looking for a parking space then we do walking around the market.