Our house sits between the famous Apuan Alps (as a source for marble) and the rest of the Apennines. In spite of being in one of the wettest regions in Italy, we've been fortunate to have amazing weather while here. We've seen plenty of clear skies and sunshine, and on one such day we set out from our house to explore our valley.
The forests around our house are primarily chestnut, including a number of impressively massive old growths. The fruit litters the ground everywhere with its uniquely spiny burr, inside containing the shiny brown nut. The little building I think of as "my future office" on the edge of our property has sooty black walls inside because it was originally used for roasting chestnuts.
The area around us strikes us as being very healthy. Driving at night during a rainstorm when we first arrived, we were amazed to see the road fill with huge frogs. And during our daytime explorations the land was alive with lady bugs, bees, butterflies and spiders. Okay, so we weren't quite as thrilled about the preponderance of web-spinning eight legged arthropods.
Our driveway turns into an old, apparently unmaintained mountain road after it passes by our house. In talking to some locals, we discovered it's a path now used during the winter months for hunting wild boar, and I suspect in the summer as a place to collect firewood. It follows alongside the mountain creek that passes in front of our property, on up into the mountains. We followed the creek along the road for nearly an hour, dodging spider webs and ogling the lush greenery.
Eventually the road led us to a couple of old, long abandoned stone buildings and what appeared to be a still functional dam. It was possible to explore all around it and over it, but we never did figure out what it was for. We found no signs of equipment for making or transporting electricity, so our best guess is that it was once a water supply though it no longer seems to be. Hopefully as we get to know our neighbors, we'll learn from them more about the land around our home.