Northern Italy is dotted with little villages.This is true for the flat land as well as the mountains. You can look at a forested mountain right in front of you and say there is nothing up there. Well, that is not the case! First you start to follow a narrow road up a slight incline. Then, there is a sharp 180 degree turn followed by a steep rise in elevation. These switch backs repeat over and over until you are a thousand plus feet above
the valley floor. Soon one spots a little farm house, with no one around, but you know it is inhabited by the cordwood neatly stacked and hand tools around the sheds. It is hard to describe homesteads to a tee. The inhabitants must live a barren life up in the hills and mountains. The one reason we don’t see people too often is because, we tend to tour in early afternoon. Remember, everything slows down to a crawl from 12 noon to 3pm. When, we do see people they are usually picking mushrooms, splitting fire wood or tending to their gardens.
Our little four person expedition group really enjoys doing these mountain road rides. Sometimes, the road gets down to a one lane road. Sometimes the unexpected happens. We spotted bicyclers pumping up the never ending road. The guys are nearly always dressed in their colorful biking clothes…This reassuring us that we’re not on an abandoned road and lost in the wilderness. At some point, we’ve even gotten to where the road nearly got covered over with fallen leaves.
The wildlife in the mountains is sparse. At least, we haven’t seen any wild animals. There are bears we’re told, but a small size resembling a grizzly, but actually being the size of a Saint Bernard dog. A foot note on bears…Our town in named Berlin, which I am told is derived from the word bear or at least for Berlin, Germany. There are deer signs on the highway, but we haven’t run across any yet. We’ve seen grouse and hawks and that is about it for wildlife. The domestic animals that we’ve seen locally, donkeys, horses, milk cows Lammas, chickens and high up in the uplands, sheep.
Plant life in the foothills… Many varieties of fruit trees are present. To name a few; olive, apple, fig, pears, chestnuts, grapes and most of all mushrooms. If we did spot a single vehicle stopped along the country side road, it was someone walking in the forest, close by, harvesting mushrooms by the five gallon pal size.
In our countryside road trips, we also notice cemeteries. They were all marked by these distinct, very tall conifers. They were all well cared for and up to date with flowers, candles and pictures. This part of Italy has many quarries and their were no shortages of beautiful stone markers.
That is what we saw and did!