If one is going to visit the La Verna Sanctuary, might I recommend not doing it on a hot summers day? Instead, go in January. But only if it’s misty, mysterious, and if you have proper time to wander through the forest and around the buildings, wondering if the monks get the same eerie feeling that you do.
Oh, the top nine insta posts. So succinct, and at least in my case, so pointy.
The highlights this year are decidedly less Scandinavian than last year, but I suppose staying closer to home is okay when it looks like this. For those interested in a slighter closer look at all the things I didn’t get to blogging about (pretty sure I say that every year), click on!
Have you ever had one of those days when you looked around and weren’t sure how you got there? I had one of those very recently, on our quick trip down to South Tyrol.
Where was I when I had these thoughts? Well…
I always make time to get to the Italian Market in the spring and fall, but this picture just reminded me that it used to pop up in summer too. I think it was part of a Venetian weekend in Nürnberg, but I’ll be darned if I can find any information on it now… maybe it no longer exists? Help me if you know! Need more truffle sausage!
Note to self: do not flip through pictures of the Italian coast when you have no major vacation plans in sight. It hurts.
The last thing I said aloud was…
I don’t know exactly, but it was definitely something snake-related. Why snakes? Well, this evening BV got a few nice pictures via WhatsApp from his friend who lives in Tuscany. Long time readers may remember our visit there… sadly it’s been more than five years since we admired the view from their hill and now it may be longer.
Among the nice pictures of the flora and sun-soaked seating areas around their house, was a picture of one of their trees. Hanging out of that tree was a goddamned giant snake. Nooooooo! Nope, nope, nope.
BV then assured me that it’s a GOOD snake. If they have this kind of snake, it means that they don’t have vipers.
VIPERS YOU GUYS.
Nope, nope, nope, nope.
We’ve discussed going back down there nearly every year since our first visit. We haven’t managed it yet, life getting in the way and all, and now the place is crawling (slithering?) with snakes. I want to go back there, but AT WHAT COST? There are so many crooks and crannies in the old farm buildings that house their holiday apartments… my snake protocol before going to bed could be a very time-consuming search.
And please don’t tell me that the snakes are more scared of you than you are of them. I KNOW THAT, THANK YOU. I just don’t need to think about the possibility of getting out of bed in the morning and stepping on a bloody viper.
I’m currently a little more sensitive to this topic than usual though, because I had a VERY CLOSE snake sighting when we were hiking in South Tyrol a few weeks ago. I knew that there were small snakes lurking about, as last year the tripod cat that lived in the house behind ours brought one into our garden after we had befriended her. Coincidentally, that’s when we stopped leaving the bedroom double doors wide open all the time.
The snake I saw hiking though was not small, and no grass snake. Long story short, we were coming down the side of the mountain and the trail was completely buried in snow. It looked like a late-season avalanche, but I’m not sure. Either way, we alternated between trying to get over the snow directly where we could see one set of footprints (maybe that guy knew the way?) or bushwhacking through the fauna alongside the snow.
Note: I do not mean bushwhacking hyperbolically. I mean we were crawling through all kinds of low, scrubby pines, over rocks, working our way down the steep hillside that edged the snow. We went through God-knows-how-many spiderwebs in the pines, I was brushing tiny spiders off of my clothes constantly and just hoping that none took up permanent residence in my hair.
Eventually though we got to the end of the snowy area and found the trail again. Huzzah! Not five minutes later I saw something out of the corner of my eye, and saw a decent-sized tan snake with black markings curling around the trunk and branches of one of those exact same pine trees that we’d been climbing through. OH HELL NO.
Presumably we made enough noise clambering around that any of his compadres would’ve gotten out of our way. Nevertheless, I made eye contact with this snake and his little hissing tongue and he legit haunts my dreams. Not cool, sir.
I relayed part of this story to one of my groups when we were talking hiking in South Tyrol after my trip, and one of my students then told us a story about how he accidentally imported a snake from Tuscany.
I’m sorry, you did WHAT?
He was staying with his family at a holiday apartment there, and they learned that a bunch of snakes liked to hang out inside this stone wall next to where they parked their cars. Several days after they got back to Germany, he backed his car up in his driveway, looked down, and saw a snake on the ground. He managed to capture it and then went on a wild goose chase of animal shelters that could take the thing. It eventually made its way to one of them, but apparently there was some interest in someone who wanted the snake to breed it. It was a young snake and hard to get (or something), and yes… dangerous. GREAT PLEASE BREED IT, RANDOM GERMAN PERSON.
At this point, I’m 95% sure Italy is covered in snakes. I love Italy. This is a problem. I’m going to have to get knee-high hiking boots and possibly also a shovel to hike with.*
*According to Texans, that’s how to deal with seeing a snake.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, which will possibly now extend into June to compensate for the vacation gap, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.
On our last day in South Tyrol, I wrote that the pain of leaving was lessened by meeting a very friendly foal. There were many pats, and it was wonderful. With any luck on this Sunday, I’ll be searching for him (or her, not sure), again.
Some cities really live up to their expectations. Meandering through Rome’s narrow streets, buildings covered in wooden shutters, glimpses of grand structures around so many corners… yes please.
Looking back through pictures to put this post together, I find myself conflicted. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who found 2017 to be a good year, as far as the world goes. Politics, prejudice, and the tiny, trigger-happy, tweeting fingers of the person currently running my home country made for a news cycle that was unrelentingly horrible.
There was a lot of good here in 2017. Work was super busy for me, which is excellent, and in between riding trains all over town, we fit in a lot of activities. We visited friends, friends visited us. Time was spent on creative projects around the house, long walks through the countryside, and of course, a decent bit of traveling. So while the world seemed in chaos, it’s hard for me to say that 2017 was a bad year in our little corner of Franconia.
Where to begin? I guess in January…
After all the excitement of the holidays, who wouldn’t want to escape to this Tuscan hillside? Especially after a doozy of a year like 2017 has been, going off-grid seems necessary. I may have to talk BV into an extra-long weekend here… we could both stand to unplug for a few days. In fact, that was part of our plan for this New Year’s, but sadly it wasn’t to be. Hopefully we can get back sometime soon though… I miss those rolling hills.
Here’s to a calmer 2018… and thanks again for reading along this year!