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Sunday, 30 November 2014

ONE STEP AT A TIME



This morning I was tired of feeling sorry for myself, and even though not particularly fit, I decided to put myself to the test and take a short (very short) walk from my home in Nerano.
I set off with some trepidation. It was the first time I had ventured forth onto the paths in a month. I walked gently down towards the village and set off along the well-worn track towards Jeranto.
What immediately struck me was the intense combination of sounds and smells: the rumble of the waves rolling into the bay of Cantone, the cries of the seagulls as they wheeled high in the sky, the song of a blackbird hidden in a bush, the crackling of the undergrowth as the many lizards that were out today

scuttled for cover, the salty tang of the sea born on the Scirocco wind, the fruity smell of the carobs trampled underfoot. Familiar sounds, familiar smells, just more intense than usual.
It was warm, very warm for the last day in November and even a couple of yellow butterflies fluttered by.
 
I didn’t go far, just to Sprito, where instead of proceeding down towards the bay of Jeranto, I veered right onto a narrow track that I knew would give me a glimpse through the olive groves of the Faraglioni rocks peeping out from behind Punta Campanella.
Content with this, I turned round and headed back, satisfied.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

COSE CHE VENGONO DAL NULLA

Ed ecco la versione in italiano (non perfetta, scusatemi) del Blog precedente "Things that come out of the blue". Come sapete, generalmente scrivo soltanto in inglese, ma in questo caso, dalla richiesta specifica dei miei amici e conoscenti di lingua italiana, ho fatto uno strappo alle regole.



A volte le cose vengono dal nulla. Mi ero sempre lusingata di essere di fisico sanissimo, che la malattia non fosse cosa mia. Ma dopo 2 settimane in ospedale a Sorrento grazie ad un virus auto immune che ha attaccato con gusto il mio corpo e in particolare una delle mia gambe, ho dovuto ammettere ed accettare che forse non sono indistruttibile quanto mi illudevo.
Sdraiata nel letto per ore e ore, incapace di muovermi, c’era parecchio tempo per pensare.
Come sapete, uno dei più grandi piaceri della mia vita è stare all’aria aperta, camminando lungo i nostri sentieri e non solo. La fine settimana ritorno in vita, libera dalle restrizioni di un ufficio con poca luce naturale, assorbendo i panorama, la luce del giorno, l’aria fresca, i fiori e le farfalle, svuotando la mente del bagaglio quotidiano e rigenerandomi.
All’improvviso questo non era possibile, ma peggio ancora, c’era la possibilità che non sarebbe stato possibile mai più, o al meglio soltanto in forma ridotta e diluita. Avevo paura.
Di notte, quando non riuscivo ad addormentarmi, immaginavo di camminare, scegliendo uno dei miei sentieri preferiti, seguendolo nella mia testa, godendo il paesaggio, i profumi e i suoni lungo il percorso. Qualche volta arrivavo alla mia destinazione, qualche volta riuscivo ad addormentarmi per un po’ prima del brusco risveglio dai rumori dell’ospedale o dal dolore, che mi riportavano alla realtà. Queste camminate notturne erano una consolazione, ma a volte anche una disperazione.
Ero fortunata. La mia stanza aveva un balcone e da lì c’era una vista a 180 gradi della campagna circostante: le colline di Priora, i boschi delle Tore, Monte Vico Alvano con la sua croce in ferro, Monte Comune, una parte di Faito con Conocchia e Il Molare. 
Non appena stavo un po’ meglio, uscivo fuori per qualche minuto fissando questi luoghi familiari e dicendomi di avere pazienza, che prima o poi vi sarei ritornata.
E non vedo l’ora.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

THINGS THAT COME OUT OF THE BLUE



Sometimes things come completely out of the blue. I have always complemented myself on being healthy, I don’t “do” illness. However, having just spent 2 weeks in hospital in Sorrento thanks to some unidentifiable auto immune virus that took a fancy to my body and especially to one of my legs, I have had to admit and accept that maybe I am not as indestructible as I fancied.
Lying in bed for hours on end, unable to move, there is a lot of time to think. 
As you know, one of my greatest pleasures in life is being out in the open, hiking the trails of this area and not only. I come to life at the weekends, free of the constraints of an office with little natural light, absorbing the views, the daylight, the fresh air, the flowers and the butterflies, emptying my mind of all the everyday clutter and regenerating myself.
All of a sudden, not only was this not possible, but there was a chance it might not be possible ever again, or at the very best only in a reduced and diluted form. It was frightening.
At night, when it was impossible to get to sleep, I would imagine I was walking the hills, choosing one of my favourite routes, following it in my mind and imagining the sights, the scents and the sounds along my way. Sometimes I would arrive at my destination, sometimes I would manage to drift off to sleep for a short period before the discomfort or the hospital noises would bring me back to reality. These night walks were a consolation, but at times a despair.
I was lucky. My room had a balcony and from it you had a 180 degree view of the surrounding countryside: the hills of Priora, the Tore woods, Monte Vico Alvano with its iron cross, Monte Comune, a part of Faito with Conocchia and Il Molare. 
Once I was on the mend, I would go out there for a few minutes and gaze at these familiar places, telling myself to be patient, that sooner or later I would be back.

I can’t wait.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

FAVOURITE SPOTS ALONG THE TRAILS (4) - LA TORRE DELLO ZIRO

La Torre dello Ziro has always been high on my list of favourites and on Sunday when two of my fellow hikers said that they had never been, we adapted our planned itinerary to include a visit to this magnificent ruin perched precariously high above the Amalfi Coast.
It was a brilliantly clear and sunny day and the sea was as smooth as oil and just as shiny, far down below.
As you approach the tower you get the most amazing aerial view of the little town of Atrani, but the best is still to come.
The actual tower has been restored and stands tall and imperious overlooking the coast. It has an unfortunate history: in the early 16th century, the Duchess of Amalfi, Giovanna D'Aragona, and her children were locked up in the tower and subsequently murdered due to her alleged infidelity with a court butler. The locals still say that it is haunted. 
However it is only when you walk through the narrow passageway between the crumbling outer walls that you get a stronger sense of history and realise its importance as a watch out point to defend Amalfi from the marauding Saracens.
Through  the gap in the wall (that seems to be getting significantly bigger every time I go) you can see right down the coast to Maiori and beyond. From the other side, the roof tops, alleyways and bell tower of Amalfi draw your gaze downwards.
If you go in the springtime, pink asphodels lend a touch of colour and there is nothing better than eating your packed lunch within these ancient walls listening to the chatter of the cicalas.

Link to how to get there


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