A little Summer House


In 2009 I left Piemonte and went to Sicily in search of work. This cunning plan, was to find employment in a hotel, or maybe even at the USAF base at Signorella, I could then persuade Mrs Sensible, to move south to be closer to her family, the sun, sea and beaches.

Mrs Sensible thought this was utter madness, most of the Italians were trying to move north in search of work and her crazy English husband was moving south!! However she did see a positive benefit to the exercise. One, she would sleep better without me snoring in her ear and two, I would be forced to learn to speak Italian. Especially if I stayed with Zia E.

Zia E is a wonderful lady, she is the oldest sister of Mrs Sensible’s Dad, and we love her to bits. The only downside was she spoke very little English, maybe as much as hello, goodbye, one, two and three. Which in fairness matched my Italian.

One evening Mrs Sensible phoned to ask me how the job hunting was going. Not bad I told her, Berlitz want me to teach English to Italian Businessmen.  Your joking she said,  you can’t spell for toffee and your grammar is appalling. It’s not a problem I said, I will teach them to spell fonetically phoneticallie phonetically. There was a long pause and then Mrs Sensible asked me, how was my Italian coming along? Cosi cosi I replied, I am working on it. But you should hear Zia, her English is improving in leaps and bounds. She can now count to 30 and can tell me it is too cold for flip-flops in English. Mrs Sensible let out another audible sigh.

I didn’t secure a job in Sicily, however I did hear this wonderful story.

When Zia’s husband was alive, they owned a summer-house near a little village out in the countryside. Every year Zia and her husband would take a holiday, and visit the summer-house on the same 3 weeks every year. Life was fine, until one year they decided to change the dates of their holiday.

They arrived at the little summer-house 2 weeks early to find the front door was unlocked.  As Zia and Zio entered the house, the aroma of fine Italian cooking  wafted through the air to their noses. When they entered the dinning room, Zia was stunned to see a family of 6 sat at her table eating a meal. Zia asked the woman, who was sat at the table tucking into meat balls or maybe even spaghetti bolognaise what she thought she was doing .

Spag bog or meat balls

Do you want to join us for dinner??  (Credit: Walt Disney Alice in Wonderland Brill film)

The woman stood up and said “we live here and are eating our meal. What does it look like; and who the hell are you?” (Obviously it was said in Italian, with a lot of hand waving) 

When Zia told them she owned the house, the woman said you don’t live here, you only come for 3 weeks, and when you do we move back to the village. Why are you here now??

I think it was at this point that Zia blew a fuse and threw them out. She also decided to sell her little summer-house.

I did wonder how the family managed to live in Zia E’ house without her knowing. Zia explained that on her visits, she sometimes noticed the odd cup missing and maybe a rug not quite in the right position, but she just put it down to her memory and age.

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35 thoughts on “A little Summer House

  1. Wow, that is crazy! The other family were clearly opportunists, in a somewhat clever kind of way… I just can’t believe this actually happened!

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  2. Oh Lord! I’ve heard of this happening before. I guess they are just opportunists taking the most advantage they can of an empty home. Probably just as well that Zia threw them out and sold the holiday home!

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  3. I sort of like the concept though – can you say you really “live” somewhere that you only visit 3 weeks out of every 52? I always think empty houses look so sad – I’m glad a family was bringing warmth and laughter and good cooking to the house – and if they didn’t steal anything major or break/damage anything, what is the problem? Too funny 🙂

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  4. Reblogged this on Chronicles of Serbia and commented:
    I would like to introduce you to a blog I follow, Englishman in Italy. My British blogging friend wrote the most enchanting story. I just had to share it with you.
    This Anglo Expat and his Italian wife enjoy an intercultural existence. many times we find the funniest things to share when living in a foreign land and to be sure he has lots more in his portfolio. He is about to publish a book! Please enjoy this reblog of A little Summer House.

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  5. Great story about Zia’s house. I found it amusing because I spent about 2 weeks at the Navy base in Sigonella around 1994. I was a civilian working for a government contractor then. I still have fond memories of my visit – the food, the wine!

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  6. This is too funny, I can just imagine the look on Zia’s face seeing an entire family having dinner in her summer home. Too bad she didn’t take the opportunity to employ them in some manner to look after the property when she wasn’t there, it sounds like they took great care of the home.

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    • Zia is a formidable woman, I would loved to have been there. The family were Sicilian, so don’t think they quietly got up and left the table. I guess a bun fight followed rather quickly. I need to ask Mrs Sensible.

      And they did seem to take care of the house, because Zia never knew, she did notice the odd cup, photo out of place, but probably put it down to her husband or her memory.

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  7. Crikey… Unofficial timeshare! How on earth did they get in? And how come the great grapevine didn’t work for Zia? If anyone talks, the Italians do, after all….. I only hope that Zia didn’t unknowingly pay their bills for them. Cheeky monkeys.

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    • I think the people in the village near the summer house must have known, but Zia was from Syracusa and so nobody told her.

      I wonder why Zia didn’t spot the high electric bills.. I will ask her when I see her during the summer.

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  8. Pingback: They even took the kitchen sink!!! | Englishman in Italy

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