What follows are some personal reflections on a face to face meeting with arguably the most powerful man in the world at the time of writing.

Please read right to the end (it’s important — there’s a sting in the tail) and share with others if you think it sheds any light on the situation we find ourselves in right now. Thank you.


The feeling of persecution appears to be in the ascendant. Every outside object is to him a potential enemy of that with which he has identified his own personality, namely, the USA. To an increasing degree he…

So in less than four months Britain will be out of the EU and our Brexit future will have begun. And if it goes ahead this may well trigger the dreaded domino effect, encouraging other countries to crash out of the European Union our parents’ generation worked so hard to create. In fact it may well signal the beginning of the end for this extraordinary guarantor of continental peace. Once again, Europe will become a collection of nation states whose interests can no longer be guaranteed to coincide. So it’s worth remembering that 80 years ago those nations states were…

Sorry about that. It’s been a difficult year. Tam nearly died and had to have a pacemaker fitted (she is now unstoppable). Moved house. Again. In the previous place we were disappearing under a plague of sick feral cats and chained-up dogs that howled 24/7. Now we’re in a dinky little cottage with lovely views and no neighbours. Guess what though? Yes, you’re right, the local cat population have spotted us for a couple of suckers and turn up at the door looking sad and under-fed. So you feed them, and they’re so pleased they go and tell their mates…

Food and Fame in the Italian countryside

You might have noticed in previous episodes of this blog the occasional moan about the glacial pace with which the Italian authorities are reacting to last year’s earthquakes. It’s almost as though it came as a surprise to a country where seismic activity is a regular occurrence. After all, we’ve got a huge live volcano a couple of hundred kilometres to the south. But while the government, regional and national, is dragging its feet, individual Italians are stepping up to the plate.

A couple of episodes ago I wrote about new school funded…

Food and Fame in the Italian countryside

Not, I am afraid, in the Italian countryside right now. And I’ve got to tell you I am missing this:

Instead, the lure of sun, sea and sand has brought me back to Doha, and another stint working with Al Jazeera. OK, so I’ll be missing the drab grey blanket that is an English winter, or the crisp clear skies and bright sunshine followed by minus 11 and two meters of snow — which is what we got last winter in Italy — but let’s just break down the S, S and S.

Food and Fame in the Italian countryside

It’s been a while… Sorry about that. I guess I am just not that organised. I know I should be doing this more regularly. But at least now I actually have some interesting things to SAY!

First of all it’s goodbye to Italy for a while. I’ve been anticipating a call to go off for another stint with Aljazeera in Qatar, and finally it’s come. Tam is not best pleased. Because it means I shall be clearing off just when things get a bit tricky here as winter comes. There will be much…

Food and Fame in the Italian countryside

Friday, then, was a positive day. The Prime Minister came to visit, the sun shone, the band played, everyone had a lovely lunch under the awnings and the new school was opened for business.

But behind this welcome dose of good news lurk the continuing problems facing us here in Le Marche. It’s more than a year now since the first earthquake struck and the rate of progress towards reconstruction would embarrass any self-respecting snail.

Food and Fame in the Italian countryside

An extraordinary day in Sarnano. “Extraordinary” = out of the ordinary. That’s because we had a ceremonial visit from the prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, who came to open our new Scuola Materna. It was a lovely autumn day today, and the town was heaving. Familiar faces, but everyone seemed to have discovered a suit at the back of the wardrobe instead of coming out in their gardening clothes, which is the usual style. For a moment or two I thought I’d stepped onto the set of The Sopranos.

The new school is a…

Food and Fame in the Italian countryside

I’m back! In the Italian countryside, that is. In fact I have been in the UK for nearly two weeks — but it seems like an age. I had a nice time seeing old friends and traveling up to beautiful Suffolk for a few days, but I am so glad to be getting back to these fabulous mountains.

Cloudy today, and about to chuck it down, but it’s nice to see the back of the blistering heatwave. No AC in these ancient houses (it wouldn’t seem right anyway) so there’s very little respite when the temperature climbs to around 40deg…

Food and Fame in the Italian countryside

But today I am not in the Italian countryside (sadly). I am in chilly London, a long way from the blistering heatwave in central Italy. Just a short trip, but already I am missing the pleasures of August in Sarnano. Each year our little town lays on a special event called Castrum Sarnani…. il medioevo che ritorna.

It’s always a lovely occasion, when the medieval streets of the centro storico take on a whole new life. Tented camps spring up in the little squares where we usually park our cars.

Stephen Phelps

Author and TV Producer/Director living in Italy’s hidden gem, Le Marche, a land of fabulous food and devastating earthquakes. (www.cookucina.com)

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