Contadina's Blog

Living the contadini life among the olive groves

About me June 26, 2009

My name is Gilly Wright and I’m a freelance journalist, part time olive farmer and wannabe contadina living in the southern Italian region of Puglia.

A contadina is a peasant wife who prepares and preserves the food, is thrifty around the house and helps to tend the land and animals.

The reputation of a contadina’s cooking is still held in very high regard by the majority of Italians and forms the backbone of the much famed “cucina povera”. The allure of traditional cooking, using home-produced ingredients, still draws whole families from towns into the countryside each weekend.

Thanks to the enthusiastic tutelage of my, mainly octogenarian neighbours, I hope to use this blog to share some of the secrets of the contadina and hopefully give a flavour of life among the olive groves in Ceglie Messapica.


17 Responses to “About me”

  1. Pat Rihoy Says:

    I’ve just discovered you, looking forward to all those recipes, cooking is my fave pastime…

  2. Roberta Says:

    Hi, just discovered your site and it’s a great read! At present am doing a project with my brother in France but have been looking for land, with/without building in and around your area (for about a year) so will continue avidly reading about your life in readiness for a visit late autumn when I hope to view some of my short-listed properties. If by any chance you hear of anyone with somewhere for sale perhaps you could let me know? However, my budget is small but I only want a simple house, it;s the land that is more important! If successful I hope in a year or so to be living in a similar way!! It sounds like hard work but a life full of contmentment amongst good friends! Continuing good luck and happiness!

  3. Jerry Says:

    Hello,found your blog via ‘ish’,though my IT skills are limited.Weare in the midst of moving back to Italy (Emiglia Romagna) to stay in Lucia’s family place,while we look for a property in the south.We know Venosa well,and would like to settle in that area.My biggest concern is for my 10 yr old daughter,that she can settle,her Italian, though improving,is still not good.I’ve been a smallholder all my life,though I’ve never grown olives.Lucia’s 3 favourite goats are coming with us! Best Wishes, Jerry.

    • contadina Says:

      Hi Jerry, your plans sound very exciting. I wouldn’t worry too much about your daughter, at 10 her brain will still be very sponge-like, so she should pick the language up very quickly and she’s not a stroppy teenager yet, so she should make friends easily enough.

      Good luck with your move.

  4. Hi Gilly!
    Found your site via a Google search for Olives done with caustic soda. Did it a couple of years ago but forgot the recipe! Many thanks.
    Great blog, well done. Thanks to you we will also be trying out the soap recipe. We will let you know how it goes.
    We are adjacent to the Majella National Park in Abruzzo and have been here since early 2007. Seems like our lifestyles are somewhat similar! Are you on Twitter? Facebook? YouTube?
    Thanks again.
    Kind regards,
    Stew and Ruth Holland

  5. contadina Says:

    Thanks Stew and Ruth. Although I’m more than a little jealous about your location 🙂 . Updating the blog is about as much sharing as I can manage, so you’ll just have to keep checking back here every once in a while.

  6. Hi Gilly,

    I found your blog via Jeremy (he and my partner [Kevin] are old school chums); I’ve only read a little so far but I’m really enjoying it, particularly the soap-making (isn’t it fun?!).

    I look forward to reading more!


  7. contadina Says:

    Ciao Nicole,

    Thanks for stopping by. Rossetti is a very Italian name, where do your family originate from?

    Say hi to Kevin for me,

    Gilly 🙂

  8. Hi Gilly!

    My father (Rossetti) came from Venezia. My mother’s family, although well and truly Anglicized, were of Norman origin, hence le Strange. I’m a mongrel, really!

    Nicôle x

  9. contadina Says:

    I too am of Norman descent. We’ve a friend whose parents are from up Venezia way and she reckons we speak Italian with a southern drawl 🙂

  10. Hi Gilly,
    Just to let you know, we used your recipe for making olive-oil soap.
    And very successful it was too. We gave a few samples out to friends here and we were immediately asked to sell some and/or supply the recipe.
    We got the beeswax from a local bee keeper who makes his own organic honey, and now he too wants the recipe.
    Thanks so much.
    If you are ever passing our area please let us know and maybe we can meet up.
    Kind regards,
    Stew and Ruth

  11. contadina Says:

    That’s sweet, thanks Stew and Ruth, we’ll definitely pop by if we are passing. I’m really pleased the soap worked out for you and that your local beekeeper wants to dabble in soap-making. I’m going to try my hand at candles next as we’ve a lot of old comb to use, so I’ll keep you posted.

  12. Hi Gilly,
    Hope you are well.
    Here’s a query for you!
    We cured some olives last year using both the lye and salt method.
    Olives turned out fine using the lye method but the salt method hasn’t really worked – they are soft but still bitter and obviously salty.
    We were thinking of doing a quick lye method on these olives to take out the bitterness.
    What do you think about this?
    Stew and Ruth

  13. Richard Gray Says:

    Hi Gilly,

    Is this Gilly Wright who married Jeremy in Scotland those many years ago, if so Hazar, or sime other yipee type scenario as this is Richard as in Richard and Lisa whom attended your wedding, if not you, then Hi anyway …. looking forward to hearing from you.

  14. contadina Says:

    Hazar indeed Richard and happy new year 🙂

    We failed to track you down a few years back (we’d sold up and I think you must have changed phone number). Really good to hear from you. I’ve forward your email to Jeremy so we’ve no excuses for losing touch again.

    You’ve made my day. Obviously loads to catch up on, but I let Jeremy email you first.


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