The walk along the ridge and down to the valleys from my friend Paola’s family home offers seductive views of ancient castles, towers and churches. We head for the closest.
All three …castle, church and cemetery … have been recommended to me to see.
The sign seems to send us to the right place.
But not one of the three is open. Like so much of Italy’s built history, the upkeep is too great; some are being repaired by current owners, hopefully to become income earners.
We can hear peacocks, and the dog of which the sign warns.
We pass the totally closed-up church; we can see nothing of the inside.
We could have prayed by the ivy-draped shrine to the Virgin, set in a small garden nearby.
To Paola’s bemusement I am fascinated by any evidence of older ways of building and this barn by the road is both sad and beautiful as its timber lintel rots and the bricks follow its trajectory.
Any walk in this country means chances for foraging. Not as many as in Paola’s youth, but enough to warrant always carrying a bag, just in case some still exist and are ripe.
Wild plums, red and yellow, wild cherries, alpine strawberries, walnuts, wild oregano…
Even if no finds, the intense green of the roadside trees stuns me; it is hard to imagine their winter bareness, with perhaps only the ubiquitous ivy not leafless or snow-covered.
We walk down to Tabbiano Terme, another spa town, full of apartments, some hotels; no shop but a pharmacy… and this one big farmhouse in empty fields. I think of all the food that this farm could grow now, for all the people living here, who include refugees housed by the government. I am told many hotels are only still open due to this funding, but surely some refugees must be from the country and could grow food?
No; it is all about the money, says my friend.
So what’s new?
On Monday we will be taken to a castle that is open…or so it says… so I hope to share that next.