I went walking this week. A trek usually sorts my writing thoughts and – if I’m honest – it’s a small way towards combatting the effects of pasta and Sangiovese on my Tuscan tum. I don’t like the gym and a brisk walk from 500 metres up to 800 asl gets my heart rate up and I’m rewarded at each turn by views.
This corner of Tuscany, like many other rural areas, has seen an exodus for work by the population ever since the end of the Second World War. One of the remaining farms near us is run by our Albanian friend, who in turn left his native country to better his life. June here is a time of hay cutting and fireflies and there are signs of hard work in the meadows. I’ve tried taking photos of these fascinating insects but I’m not clever enough. I’ll leave you to imagine hundreds of pinpricks of sparkling lights in our meadow. Stars above and below us.
My destination today was the home of our eighty nine year-old friend, Evalina. She’s one of the most intelligent ladies I know, brimming with wisdom and profound sayings. She left school young to help her father on the land and no matter what I say to her, she feels inferior because of her lack of education. She’s suffered a great deal and is wise from the school of life. Evalina is full of stories and she helped me with ideas for both of my books. I love listening to her. She was very concerned at how hot I was – perspiring from my hill climb – and went to fetch a towel, proudly telling me she’d had it since the day she married. “They make them from rubbish nowadays,” she said as she gently wiped my face and neck, adding, “I’m your Italian mamma.” I joked with her, saying she’d be forbidding me to go dancing next. She laughed and went over to her stove to prepare coffee. I think it’s really important to record the old folks’ experiences. The past builds our present and future. I came across a phrase from 2,000 years ago and my theory was understood even then.My head brimming with new ideas for stories, I walked back downhill to Il Mulino. I was still hot and a plunge beneath the waterfall was a welcome end to my open air “circuit training”. In our little pool on the Marecchia, there’s clear, refreshing water, plenty of tadpoles this summer, the occasional harmless river snake and dragonflies that hover tantalisingly over bleached stones. I can never capture them on film. But I know someone talented who can. Our young friend, Ben Harvey, is an architect. He’s passionate about his job but he has another passion – photography. Look at his stunning photograph, a reward for patience and knowledge. Why not take a look at his website for more wonderful photos. Here are Ben’s photos
Wow, eh? We should all take time to nurture our creative gifts in our busy lives.