The Val Fegana is beautiful in all seasons but yesterday was an exceptionally clear winter’s day with true-blue sky and a golden afternoon light. I decided to take a little detour up the valley on my way home.
Near the entrance I dropped into a friend’s place; the same friend half of whose garden had been swept away by the tremendous floods earlier this year when the river changed its course and decided on a short cut across his front lawn.
With typical Dunkirkian spirit my friend had managed to restore everything as much as possible (fortunately the house wasn’t affected) although, clearly it was impossible to tell the river to go back to its original course.
In place of the Muscovy ducks, (one of which we’d donated), swept away by a furious river, I found their replacement: two delightful geese revelling in the icy waters of a now reasonably placid Torrente Fegana.
Continuing up this glorious valley I came across a pretty shrine, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, centrered around an ancient spring. Part of the shrine had only been completed this year.
I’ve said before that I feel that Italy is a half-way country between the UK and India and, again, I could fully associate with the many shrines I’ve seen both in the sub-continent and here. It’s a marvellous fusion of Roman Catholicism with ancient nature adoration, the worship of woods and rocks. I remembered that the god of that eastern cult, imported into the Roman Empire, Mithraism, was born from a rock. In this instance, the Marian shrine appeared to be dedicated to fertility as the several blue rosettes celebrating male births attested.
Again, there is a connection to the Neolithic cave under the steep crags of Monte Penna and which has revealed ancient fertility statuettes, now on display in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana’s museum in its castle
I was surprised to see no snow on the main Apennine ridge, not even on Monte Rondina, which is well above 6,000 feet. At this time the pass across it is usually impassable but now I could easily have reached Abetone on what must be one of the most spectacular unpaved roads in the whole mountain range. It’s the old grand-ducal road, built in the nineteenth century and which I have described in my post at http://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/festa-della-montagna-a-pian-dalbero/.
Most of the road’s embankment stonework is still impressively standing.
Just below the proud ridge village of Tereglio is this large manse which was a post-coach station for the Duke and his retinue. It is now, unfortunately in a state of abandon although, at least, the road has been diverted so that it no longer runs right in front of the entrance portico. Any takers?
One of the delights of travelling in winter here is that new views are opened out for one since the trees have largely been despoiled of their foliage. The Orrido di Botri, Tuscany’s “Grand Canyon” is one of these “clarified” views.
Reaching the Orrido the ascent to Montefegatesi began. The sun was now so low that it was difficult to steer my two-wheeler along the rough unmade track which has deteriorated considerably because of the seemingly perpetual rains we’ve had. But it was worth every effort and the views from another Marian shrine I encountered were superb.
I also noted this crucifix on the adjacent telephone pole. Clearly, earthly communications must be protected too against all-too-frequent failures.
The last stretch was the descent into the Lima valley and my home village of Longoio.
On my way down I passed this rather lonely bus-stop and felt how much more pleasant it would be to wait here for a bus rather than at the stops in those overcrowded shopping streets of the world’s great metropolises’ pre-Christmas rush.
Again, it was lovely to see the sunset colours against the mountain ridges – something which these photographs can only hint at.