Meet Eric a French itinerant tree climber and tree cutter. In the mid 1960′s a Florentine family bought Casa Verde and replanted and restocked the terraced land. The planting included four pine trees among other such trees that formed the amphitheatre at this end of Vellano. Sadly, partly through neglect of the land, partly through drought and age these trees have died and have become unsafe so they needed to be felled. The question was how to do it?
Eric, in the space of three hours cut down these four trees by climbing the trunks with a rope and crampons, cutting away the lower branches on his way up then cutting the large trunks from the top down. This was achieved with an amazing degree of skill, speed and efficency. Now our view from the house is even better! We plan in the next few years to plant more olive and fruit trees. To restore the ‘campi’ to their original full and plentiful state.
It is one year since we arrived here in Vellano, and the seasons have come full circle. In many ways it feels as if we have lived here for longer, but in other ways the year has been full and fast moving and we have achieved a great deal. We are looking forward to a new season of holiday visitors and we have already received guests from Texas a few weeks ago. We also look forward to brilliant sunny days and balmy star filled evenings.
Another photograph from Viareggio Carnevale, now ended for another year. La Bestia comments on the predominence of technology in our everyday lives. Here in the hills everyone is getting out their tools for cultivation. Their rotivators, spades, diggers, hoes and other such things. Trenches are being double-dug, olives trees and other fruit trees are being pruned and fires are being lit to dispose of the remnants. There is something much more earthy and traditional about these activities. Not that Italians are without technology, the range of clever machines and tools to make land management easier are multi-various and amazing.
Part of the carnevale tradition is about preparation for renewal, cleansing for regrowth. Primavera brings strong changes to the weather, the sun becoming strong, rain showers chain across the skies to make everything bright, fresh and green. Iris, crocus and primroses cover the bankings and campi. Mimosa is flowering among the trees. A beautiful damp freshness fills the air.
Here though is a picture of our valley and the view from Casa Verde where it looks as if have moved to the sea!
It is coming to the end of carnevale time in Italy and in Viareggio for 5 days over 4 weeks there is one of Europe’s best parade and float carnivals. Always held of course around lent. Thousands of people flocked there on Sunday March 6th this year in gloriously warm sunny weather to see this most colourful of events.
We travelled the short journey from Pescia to Viareggio on the train which was packed with many people. Many of them dressed up wonderfully for the occassion. We saw many Supermen (and women); lots of glitter and ABBA costumes, and many dressed as furry animals. Most of the children were dressed as fairy tale characters or cartoon figures. Many carried bags of glitter and confetti to create a blaze of colour and light.
Many of the floats were enormous pieces of machinery, standing six storeys high above the promenade were they move around in a two mile circuit. The float pictured above rose and fell from a sitting position magnificently, as it then looked around the crowd and flashed his green eyes like some menacing alien.
Many of the floats were overtly political, including a treatise on the dangers of technology, the exploitation of Africa and the political dangers of the continutation of the Berlusconi government. Here is a giant Barak Obama with, behind a trail of other world leaders representated by a giant circus. If you look closely, Osama Bin-Laden is seen in Obama’s hat carrying a machine gun. Very interesting!