In one of my earlier posts (‘Roadtrip to Italy’, April ’16), I mentioned my wife and I had taken on my late great-aunt’s house in northern Italy. The small house is located in a tiny, mountainous village in the Apennines called Granelli (see pic below), and was built by my great-grandfather over 120 years ago.
The house is rustic with a capital R. Or put another way, a bit knackered. But it’s an amazing project for us to get stuck into and we’re heading over as much as we can to get it ship shape. Last week, we spent 5 days there with the aim of doing a few hours’ work each day, and then spending the rest of the time walking, exploring and eating lots of amazing food. What shocked us was how cold it was when we got there. It was 8* or so every day, which for mid-October was quite cold. So this meant that every day, the most important thing was collecting firewood and getting the fire going.
The beauty of having a stove is also cooking on it. We used it to cook omelettes, pasta and hot chocolates before bed:
So after waking up, getting the fire going, collecting fire wood and doing a few jobs in the house, every day we headed out to explore the local hills. And you don’t have to walk far until the camera’s out. The view below is taken from our village, looking due south.
Just 5 minutes walking up a short hill brings you to the village of Credarola. It’s home to the beautiful church in the picture below, and my Italian grandparents are buried in the village’s cemetery.
As you venture on, you quickly realise these aren’t just any old hills. Italy has re-wilded and all around are wild boars, wolves, deer, giant hares and all sorts of amazing wildlife. Although wild animal tracks can be spotted all over the place, they generally try and avoid humans – who can blame them? But that doesn’t stop your imagination running wild when walking down tracks like the ones below:
My wife and I both find spending time in the outdoors restorative. And long walks in these hills give our minds a bit of breathing space. All that crap you were mulling over suddenly doesn’t seem so important. But it’s not all walking. Occasionally we head to the nearby town to mingle with civilisation, pick up some essentials and sip amazing Italian coffee:
Even in this town, you’re never far from a great view. The picture below was taken from the car park at the bottom of town:
As is always the case, our 5 days in Italy came and went in a blink of an eye. But as I write this, I’m looking back at the pictures and thinking how lucky we are to have such close links with this beautiful corner of Italy. We can’t wait to get back there.