The Leaving of Italy

The little house in the olive grove - last view.

from the terrace looking towards Capezzano Monte - our village
Leaving anywhere is difficult - leaving a place like this is very hard.  The little house in the olive grove has been home to my partner Neil for 6 years and it was also mine for 3 of them.  Though I've been living back in the UK for the last 3 years the little house was always there to visit - to drink wine on the terrace looking out over the Mediterranean towards Corsica, or to look up at the rocky, white-tipped Alpi Apuane rearing more than 4,000 feet above us.

The Alpi Apuane behind us
sunset in the Mediterranean from our terrace
Then there were the eagles and the wild boar, ghiri, pine martens, porcupines,foxes and badgers, all managing to survive the Italian compulsion to shoot things. They don't use pesticides up here on the mountain, so the wild flowers in spring were sensational enough to make you weep for what we have lost here in the UK.
A ghiro

Wild flowers everywhere
But Brexit has changed everything.  The marble sculpting industry has been in decline for a decade or more as economic forces have bitten deep into the pockets of purchasers.  It has become difficult for artists to get grants and there are fewer public art commissions to apply for.  Brexit just put the lid on an already struggling market.  In 2009 there were about 15 working studios in the centre of Pietrasanta - now there are only a couple left.  It can no longer justify its title of 'City of the Arts', with a tradition going back to Michelangelo.

Neil sculpting in his studio in winter - covered in marble dust!
Costs have risen exponentially since the banking crisis - accommodation, food, power, transport fees, even the cost of the marble itself.  The current state of the pound against the euro means that a tiny apartment that cost about £350 a month in 2011 now costs £500.  In the centre of town it will cost you £750.
Neil at the Mt Corchia marble quarry
It has been hard packing up  belongings and giving away what can't be brought home.  I won't miss the winter damp that brings a black bloom to the walls and ceilings high on the mountains - the dreaded 'Mufa'.  And I won't miss the rural Italian disregard for comfort - the plumbing that never works properly, the cold, hard tiled floors, or the scorching summers when the Sirocco blows from Africa and frizzles everything in sight.

A wildfire at the bottom of the olive grove below our house...
But I will miss the thunderstorms that covered the whole sky with fireworks (our house was struck once).  We've experienced hurricanes and earthquakes and weather bombs that washed away the road.  Italy is spectacular in every way!

A thunderstorm coming in off the sea

Road slipping down the mountainside after a weather bomb - it vanished completely the next day
I will also miss the friends I've made over the years, though I hope to still see them on visits.

eating with friends on the terrace
As we drove down the tortuous mountain road for the last time on the way to Pisa airport before dawn, we met two huge porcupines swaying towards us under a waving cloud of barbed spines.  I won't see them at the Mill or glimpse a wild boar in the undergrowth, sadly.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts