Monday, 25 January 2010

A Walk in the Mountains

It seemed a shame to waste such wonderful weather, so yesterday we went for a walk in the mountains with the two dogs we’re looking after for a friend. Elly is a small Italian terrier who spends all day chasing after sticks and pine cones and anything else she can persuade you to throw for her. Frank is a Spinone - a pedigree breed, large and shaggy as a sheep, and rather similar to the English Lurcher. He’s good natured, but enjoys chasing and biting people on bicycles, so he has to be kept on a lead near pathways.
The views were spectacular as we climbed up towards the ridge of Mount Prana, and we could see far out across Torre del Lago (still swollen by flood water) and across the Mediterranean as far as Corsica.
These ancient pathways through the olive groves are punctuated by shrines, still decorated with flowers and candles, however high up or distant.
There are wild flowers everywhere - we found some small orchid like plants with flowers like cobras, spectacular funghi growing under the chestnut trees, hellebore along the edges of the paths, daisies and cyclamen.





















We passed through a small mountain village called Torcigliano, perched precariously on the slope of the hillside - the streets accessed only by steps. Like most of these villages it still has the communal washhouse in the centre, fed by a spring.
All over the hillside, in the olive groves, are ruined, abandoned homesteads whose owners have migrated to the valleys, to big cities like Milan, or even to America, in search of an easier life than the subsistence farming these houses represent. We look at them longingly - dreaming of owning one and restoring it. We imagine sitting on the terrace, drinking our own wine, nibbling our own olives, looking at the views of mountain and sea on summer evenings ....... But the reality is that these ‘rusticos’ as they’re known, are very sought after as holiday homes for rich Europeans who drive down from France or Germany, or further east. Even in ruinous condition in an isolated location, they fetch 150 to 200 thousand euros. We had better keep buying the lottery tickets!



On the way down, against the red sky of a setting sun, we found these skeletons of wild clematis.

5 comments:

  1. Oh man, what wonderful photos, those dogs caught my eye right away. and every picture is gorgeous. Now I want to buy a lotto ticket and buy myself one of those magnificent rustico fixer uppers! Thanks for this lovely post.

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  2. What a beautiful post Kathy. Every image here begs to be embedded in a poem. I love the idea of streets accessed only by steps. Thank you for sharing and inspiring.
    wx

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  3. Your post has brought back so many good memories of walking in Italy. The last time was in July 2002, when my daughter and spent a week in Levico Terme in the Alto Adige and went for daily walks in the spectacular setting of the foothills of the Dolomites every day. It was also our last holiday together before she married and just a very special few days. But we did miss having our beloved dogs walking alongside us . . .

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  4. Fantastic post Kathleen.
    Wonderful images, visual and written.

    Those strange flowers look very like carnivorous pitcher plants in shape (apart from the "tongue" protruding from the "mouth")

    I think my favourite image was the frozen spiders of clematis.

    I really am going to have to find a way to Italy someday.

    Al
    Publish or Perish

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  5. So glad to give you all vicarious pleasure - this landscape is so beautiful. Thank you all for your comments. When I'm feeling cold and a bit isolated I can tell myself how lucky I really am!!
    KJ XXX

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