Our house is set in a mix of farmland and woods, a countryside typical of the area. The farmed land is mainly arable, with crops rotating every year – including alfalfa, barley, maize and wheat. In autumn after the harvest a neighbouring farmer brings his sheep to graze the last bits and pieces before the land is ploughed up again – a nice example of the way traditional practices haven’t been forgotten here. In fact that is one of the reasons why we like this area so much – farms are still small and worked by the families who have owned them for generations.
On the land around the house there are innumerable animals and birds that you might spot. Red and green woodpeckers are not uncommon; hoopoes with their pink crests are our exotic summer visitors; in the twilight you may hear or see one or two little owls (Athene noctua), especially on the road above the house. Blue-jays are abundant. We see badgers, wild boar, porcupines, hares, rabbits, foxes, deer and pine martens – you’ll probably see boar tracks if you walk down past the house towards the bottom of the field, as they go to drink from the stream in the valley. You may find porcupine quills too.
Indicative of the unpolluted countryside is the amazing profusion of wild flowers especially in late spring/early summer, amongst them many varieties of wild orchids. And along with the flowers comes an equally diverse population of butterflies.
For those keen on walking the Sibillini mountains offers opportunities from relaxed to challenging. The CUS (hiking club) organizes guided excursions which are open to anyone. Other walks and suggestions are indicated in the printed material we leave in the apartment. Horse-riding and mountain-biking is offered in the hills also.
Another great and, to some, unexpected beauty is the night sky. Light pollution is low, and the stars are fantastic. Shooting stars are common in August, with a whole night being officially devoted to watching them fall (la notte di San Lorenzo). Star-watching through a telescope is offered by a local astronomy group on given nights.