We gathered most of the family bright and early, right after breakfast, on the lawn in front of the castello to meet our nature-walking guide, Daniele. He is the son of one of the program administrators at the castle, and he was a really wonderful guide for the day, bringing us on a several-hour hike up into the forest and down to a small town with a most amazing cloistered abbey, then back into the woods by a different route, to make a loop back to the castle. We set off up a steep path at a nice gentle pace, stopping often to look at different trees and flowers and birds and answer lots of questions from our inquisitive group.
We learned lots of interesting details about the history of the forest and the traditional industries that took place there: hunting, trapping, charcoal making, gathering of wild edibles and medicinals, and so on. We came up to the top of the hill and then eventually out of the woods into the open, with glimpses of the next valley through the trees. Following an old dirt road, we came down steeply and emerged into a beautiful, neatly tended olive grove! And there were some very impressive enormous rosemary plants growing from the roadside.
Our dirt road led us right down alongside the abbey walls and up to an arched gateway to enter the town of Torri.
After we had a good long visit to the abbey, we admired the garden out back, with lots of beautiful dahlias and a great linden tree. Then a brief look at the town of Torri, which includes a communal water pump and a brick oven that would’ve been fired up once or twice a week for everyone to bake their breads. It was interesting to see so much history but also to see people living modern lives there inside such old walls. We headed back outside the gate and had a picnic lunch under a shady tree with a beautiful view. All of us had been planning to make the return hike, but it turned out that I was feeling very pregnant and hot and tired, and some other folks were tuckered out too, so only a part of our group made the hike back and the rest of us got a ride home in the car. This was one of my favorite days at Spannocchia, I loved getting in some exercise and spending time in the woods and Daniele’s impressive knowledge of the local history and natural world, and seeing the beautiful town with the abbey’s mossy bricks and amazing patterns and designs and neatly tended plants.