I spent most of 2020 on my own. The two trips I had booked to Italy were cancelled and I clearly wasn’t allowed to rebook them. Before all that, in February, we arranged a long weekend in the Garfagnana forest in the north of Italy. I arrived at Pisa airport to find people in hazmat suits taking our temperatures. They were obviously taking the emerging pandemic seriously.
We visited the Orechiella National Park, Parco dell’Orecchiella, and I saw Brown Bears for the first time:
Here’s my blog of the experience: The claws of the world’s oldest euphemism
Don’t you just love their claws?
I was grateful that humans have evolved a sense of beauty.
We also saw Deer, including a large herd which crossed the forest road in front of us. Hiding behind trees and stalking them with cameras is clearly an art form in itself.
We had confirmation that purple and orange is an extreme colour scheme:
That’s as true of the sky as it is of plants:
Garfagnana means Enchanted Forest. It really is.
We hired a cosy ancient stone building with a massive open fire and ate great pizza at the local pizzeria, thankfully within staggering and waddling distance of the house. We burnt off some of the calories with walks into the mountains.
Seeing a panoramic view, scanning the far horizon, seeing sunrise or sunset, all make you feel glad to be alive.
Just a month later, on 19 March, the BBC World Service would show Italian army trucks moving coffins in Bergamo in Lombardy and quoted local journalist Beppe Severgnini saying military trucks had taken 70 coffins away the night before to have the bodies cremated. The cemeteries and crematoriums of Bergamo were beyond their capacity. That’s another reason to feel glad to be alive.
Arriving back at Bristol airport from near the European epicentre of the pandemic I strolled through with no test, no temperature check, and no guidance, to pick up my car and drive home.