Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Roman Avenue?

Revealing the past

The 'Roman Road' when we first discovered it in 2005
Our first explorations at Le Ripe over 10 years ago were motivated by curiosity and caution. Our curiosity requires little explanation: we were about to acquire 30 hectares of wooded land; it is obvious we wanted to investigate. Our caution was owing to experience. So many times, on our quest for a home in Tuscany, were beautiful ruins revealed to be duds: one house situated beneath perilous-looking, overhanging cliffs; another not far from a pylon; wandering around yet another revealed giant pipes and steam vents connected to the boric acid and geothermal energy stations near Larderello; a short walk from another beautiful house opened onto the freeway and its collection of factories in the valley below: you name it, we found it. 
the top section of the 'Roman Road', in 2005

Thankfully, at Le Ripe, apart from finding an enclosure where 'wild' boars had been bred by a local farmer who lived on the other side of the boundary, we discovered only thick, wild woods, fields of brambles and bamboo and thickets of blackthorn. 
Roman Road drystone base, the tallest section
Plus what we soon came to call The Roman Road, simply because it was straight, the regulation size (3 metres across and elevated above ground level in some places higher than a metre) and very solidly built.
Looking east down the Roman Road today: sides cleared and a selection of trees preserved
Subsequently we cleared the road surface of brambles and blackthorn to maintain it and give it greater prominence.

Looking west up the Roman Road today
This year, amost a decade after its discovery, Paolo took over. Not only has he cleared the sides, leaving a selection of trees, but he has also opened up the wood below the road to link it with the old cart-track, which encircles the former terraced fields and leads down to the bottom field and the ford over the Pesa.
cleared stretch below Roman Road which is now linked to the old cart-track Paolo opened up several winters ago.

We are tempted to call the road the Roman Avenue, even though it has now been confirmed that it was probably a simple service road to the former fields.

our rustic Roman Avenue

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