Wild Boar and Wellies - An Artist in the Majella mountains of Abruzzo

Pest Control Abruzzo Style


Slug control is cheerful emerald green lizards which live in holes along the river bank and the hedgerows.

Snails are not so much of a problem since after the rain old men with knotted hankies on their heads and elderly widows in thick black stockings and headscarves wander around with small metal baskets collecting snails – a local speciality.

Instead of popping over to a local Garden Centre to buy canes, we cut them down from our own supply growing in our land to prop up over 100 tomato plants which thrive in our long hot summers.

The vegetable patch is watered from our crystal clear fast-flowing mountain river Aventino. Until last year we were using a pump for which we paid a licence fee to the river authorities. A freak spring flood caused by a swift snowmelt from the Majella mountains together with too much rain washed our pump away. So now we have to use watering cans – luckily our vegetable patch is only a few meters from the river.


We have exchanged problems with flea beetles and slugs for problems with enormous wild boar. Our former neighbour Zia Maria (a font of all knowledge from goats cheese making to working the land) suggested a wire fence to keep the wild boar at bay – and she was right! They now only churn up the land under the walnut tress looking for any nuts we have failed to pick up. They compete with the local dogs, who are also fond of our walnuts.


We met Zia Maria on our first day working in the garden. She trotted over from her cottage just behind our house with a plastic bag filled with beer and biscuits for us. She was extremely small, maybe around 4’2”, with dark leathery skin, beady brown eyes and large gold earrings. On her head she wore a brightly coloured scarf. Her feet, like her hands, were enormous and clothed in thick brown tights and sturdy mens open sandals. She always had her little scruffy dog Johnny at her side wherever she went. She laughed at our delicate english hoes - we were to discover later that she, like everyone else here, used a heavy implement not unlike a pickaxe which she swing over her shoulder.

Zia Maria, painted by Ruth.