The first morning Donatella thought she would break me in easy to the farm work by taking me to collect blackberries. This seemed like an innocent enough task, but she warned me to wear long sturdy pants because the bushes are covered in lots of prickly thorns. "Dammit, I shouldn't have left my jeans at the apartment!" I declined Mathilde's (one of Dona's daughters) offer to borrow some of her pants, and slipped on a pair of thick tights. We then headed into the thicket, gloves and buckets ready. After a few minutes of excited berry-picking (they were EVERYWHERE!)
I'm sure the ensuing scene must have been quite comical. Something out of a Whinnie the Pooh story, I'd say. Bumbling me, drunk on blackberries and fresh air, stumbling upon a swarm of hornets. It didn't take long for me to snap out of my stupor. I practically tripped over myself and the thorn-laden branches to get out of there, running and swiping at the angry buzzing in my pursuit. I got about 10 meters away before I felt a sting on my upper inner thigh: one of the bugs had penetrated the tights. Guess I should have taken Mathilde up on that offer. Thankfully I'm not allergic, but Dona sent me back to the house for treatment anyway. Upon arrival, Dona's two daughters Mathilde and Therese were waiting for me with freshly picked leaves torn up in their hands. "Rub this on the wound," they said. I had already heard about this magical plant from Vincenzo, Therese's boyfriend and farm hand, and well, it definitely lives up to its reputation. Within only a minute or two the pain went away completely and even the swelling diminished significantly. Who needs Tylenol when you've got magical plants?!