Friday, September 22, 2017

The Hilltop View from Le Ripe

We lost some forest but we gained a view
looking almost due east
When we first walked proudly over our property - the sensation of owning land, as opposed to a house, is strangely exciting - we convinced ourselves that our scanty maps showed it extending to the top of the hill. Our imaginations expanded it a little further.
looking north towards Panzano in Chianti

We would climb the hill and confidently point out the (imagined) boundaries to visitors. It was nice owning a hilltop, even if there was no view up there from spring to autumn, because of the forest of leafy oak and ash. 

looking south to neighbouring hills
We were brought back to earth with a thud last winter when our neighbours decided to harvest firewood. There are many regulations governing this enterprise. A surveyor has to mark the borders between one property and the next (extensive fences being non-existent around here) and the woodcutters must leave one tree out of every eight. They invariably choose the largest and oldest trees to chop/chainsaw down and leave the scrawniest (and occasionally dead) trees to stand - this aspect does not seem to be supervised.
looking west (Castellina in Chianti is over these hills to the left)
A definite border is now delineated by the almost bare hillside running south and west of our property. Our land skirts this with our track edging around it and petering out somewhere before the top. Thus we discovered that we do not own the hilltop, indeed we barely own the track which leads up from our neck of the woods towards the top.
So much for our delusions of hauteur.
looking east-southeast along the Pesa valley
Yesterday, a misty, early-autumn morning, we took our first hike of the season up the hill. Everything was swathed in mist and drizzle and we were shocked to discover that not only does the felled forest look as though it has been hit by napalm, but the woodcutters had thought of nothing better than burning to get rid of the undergrowth and leftover cuttings. Talk about slash and burn. They left a rotten mess.
a small sample of the mayhem left by the woodcutters
However today broke clear and blue with gorgeous flat milky clouds on the horizon. We hiked up again, this time to be greeted by a wonder. Even if the top of the hill is no longer our top of the hill it offers a breathtaking, almost 360 degree panorama. We can now see the Alpi Apuane, the Garfagnana and the Appenines, apart from nearby hills and properties and the town of Panzano.
pretty good view of the Alpi Apuane (west) and some of the Appenines (east): it promises to be even better in winter
Many trees are down and one side of the hill looks devastated (and will do so for a few years), but we have a fabulous view from the top. 
The hilltop may not be ours but the view is there for anyone to enjoy.

The dot in the centre is a serendipitous hot air balloon

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos and soul-enhancing Tuscan views.Even though the hilltop is not yours,the rest of your extensive Tuscan land holding is really beautiful.
    Some closer supervision of the woodcutters activities is certainly necessary.


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