|Pania del Croce - the View from La Ceragetta|
|We were lying with our backs against these rocks|
Rest and recuperation was essential before going anywhere, so we made our way up to a rocky shrine with spectacular views over the valley and the mountain range in front of us, spread a rug on the rocks and lay down to have a much needed nap. I opened my eyes about half an hour later and found myself eye to eye with a large yellow and black snake beside me on the rock, rearing up to have a good look at me, tongue flickering. I stayed very still, only nudging my friend with a free hand and whispering 'Snake!' I felt oddly calm, just fascinated to be so close to it. As my friend sat up the snake slithered off the rock and down the slope.
|The snake I saw|
When we eventually got home Neil began to look around on Google to identify the snake. There are lots of grass snakes here - but this didn't look like any grass snake I'd ever seen. Vipers are also quite common in Italy and are usually brownish, to blend in with the vegetation. This snake was bright yellow and black in a distinctive diamond pattern - the skin quite shiny, the head wedge-shaped. It certainly wasn't afraid of humans. I had a lucky escape, I think, because, if we've got it right, it turns out to have been a type of viper - sometimes called Orsini's Viper - and they're very poisonous. But it's also quite rare to catch sight of one, so I feel privileged to have been eye-ball to eye-ball with such a beautiful creature.
I'll be a bit more wary where I put my feet in the mountains now though - and I might think twice about having a nap on a rock!