Saturday, 22 October 2011

"There's a hazardous sadness to the first sounds of someone else's work in the morning; it's as if stillness experiences pain in being broken". ( "Freedom" Jonathan Franzen)

There are little orange signs dotted intermittently along the roadside in this part of Italy. They read: Divieto di Caccia. There's one by the gate where we're staying, it means: No Hunting. I'm not sure how far the boundary of this restriction extends, but it must surely be beyond the source of the gunfire I hear at dawn every morning, including Sunday (in Italy ?!). What these hunters are aiming at is unknown to me; whether for fun or for food, or both. I have seen hares and small deer known as "daino", no pheasants, but the occasional, gravity-defying bird of prey.

It is rumoured that these hunters have special licences which exempt them from the "Divieto" signs. They park their dusty old cars along the roadside, sometimes right outside the house. You never see them, but by 10 am the cars and the sounds of gunshot are gone and all that remains of the dawn chorus is the slow chug of a distant tractor. Our day has begun.

We visit "Il Gelso" whose crumbling walls are now fortified by scaffolding. The roof has been removed, and Paulo's ace team of two is in the process of knocking down all the internal walls to the top floor, prior, they explain, to removing some of the external walls which are all wonky. Paulo has stipulated that anything that looks original and can be salvaged and reused is to be saved. There are piles of misshapen old stones, old "coppi" roof tiles, and of seemingly worm eaten bits of wood lying all over the site. We stand on the top floor of our roofless house and look up at the clear blue sky. "Tomorrow it will rain" they say with smiling anticipation. That means they will not work, but it won't keep the hunters at bay.

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