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February 3, 2013

The Forgotten Village

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Here in the Valleriana, it is late winter and it especially quiet during a season that has been wetter than normal.  Many people are away in other parts of the world, there are some happy visitors, but we are ready for the Spring and the new season.  This is the time of the year to climb up the hills and mountains (see previous post) and recently we visited the abandoned village of Lignana, high up the mountain of the same name.  Monte Lignana is visible from the west side of Vellano, a sharp wooded peak that from a distance does not show it’s secret past, it’s ruined mountain village hidden in the trees.  In the 14th century, during wars between Florence, Lucca and Pisa, so the fable goes, the women of the village fed-up with being left with all the work to do, poverty and being left alone by the men going to war, decided to leave the village and burnt it to the ground and moved down the hill to the village of Sorana.  The area of the village they moved to was named ‘Paradiso’ by the locals because of the beauty of the women of Lignana.

One does not wish to ruin a good story with reality, but the likelihood is that the village was destroyed by one or other of invading armies, or that life high up the mountain just became too difficult, and the locals left.  Nevertheless, the village became abandoned, forgotten and deserted.  The area of Sorana could just as easily have been called ‘Paradiso’ because of the spectacular views from this particular part of the valley.  Lignana remains as a Church with a chapel of ease, still maintained by locals, and those interested in it’s history.  The ruins of other buildings mark the spot as do the remains of what must have been imposing walls.  It has a very strange, spiritual atmosphere that pervades this damp and overgrown place, and one can understand why people chose not to live here anymore despite it’s beauty.  At this time of year, in such a wonderfully strange and peaceful place as this, one is left to ponder about why people move to different places,  for what reasons and to think about what and who they have left behind.

Talking of beauty.  We visited Florence on Christmas Eve and Darren took these photographs of some of the posh shop windows.

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And another:  Happy New Year!

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For more photos of Florentine Christmas windows, see ‘Casa Verde’ on Facebook.

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