Day 21 – Val Taleggio

Another Thursday – the produce truck arrived at 8am sharp. Without this service, residents would have no place to purchase lettuce, tomatoes, peaches, pears, all the good, healthy food that is hard to do without. Once again I bought some prunes like the ones Grandpa used to grow. I know once back in California I won’t be able to find them.

Today I had an excursion with Angelo Locatelli, a self-styled historian and passionate advocate for the Val Taleggio. He often gives free excursions to fellows at Nahr, the Nature, Art and Habitat organization that operates the residency.

I was surprised when I found out where we were going. I had thought he was going to take me to the faggi, a grove very old heritage beech trees high up in the mountains. Instead we were off to Fraggio, a village above Pizzino. Easy enough to confuse what with my poor Italian and his heavy accent: faggi, Fraggio. So, OK.

We had quite a hike down to the tiny village, but at least the road was wide and not rocky like the mule paths.

On the way we passed many patches of wild cyclamen and this little shrine in the rocks.

And some beautiful wildflowers. INaturalist pegged this one as Dark Mullein, Verbascum nigrum. In my walks around the valley, I have observed 64 species of plants, according to iNaturalist. It would have been interesting to see how this printed on my banners, but I could not bring myself to pick it and deny this bee its nectar.

We arrived at the little village in about half an hour, a place that looks like pictures in a book of fairy tales. Angelo visited with a friend who lives in one of the few livable houses in the summer and keeps the grounds beautifully maintained. Notice the ruins in the background.

I looked around, particularly at the 15th century Oratory of San Lorenzo. Unfortunately, it’s closed due to possible danger from the aging roof.

Angelo encouraged me to visit the fountain commemorating the pastoral visit of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo while he talked with his friends. Unsure what to expect, although surely some fresh running water, I took this rocky mule trail down to the fountain, with its plaque commemorating the Cardinal’s second visit to the village. Not knowing who Carlo Borromeo was or really caring that he passed by here to bless the village in the 1500s, I could have done without the strenuous and perilous exercise. Those wet rocks are slippery! And algae grows in the fountain.

Angelo often reminded me that these buildings existed before the “discovery” of America. Even these tiny sub-alpine clusters had their role in the Italy’s history. At one time Fraggio sat on the border between the area governed by Milan and that of Venice. Venice maintained a prison and a customs house here to make sure it taxed goods going in and out of its region. It was a bustling town, but now most of the buildings now are in ruins. The village has only two permanent residents in winter.

We were fortunate to meet Elisa and her husband, who come up to Fraggio from their home in Bergamo to relax and get away from the heat. Elisa is an artist who painted the image on the side of the baita, the rustic structure, that she and her husband bought and restored with another couple.

Elisa graciously showed me the interior, one room that serves as kitchen, bedroom, office and studio, along with a separate small bath. All without electricity. He sleeps on the cot, she on the table. I was very pleased to see how they have fixed up this little stone hovel into a home away from home.

Elisa’s husband is a concert pianist and collects stones in the shape of pianos. He has quite a collection on display.

On the way back to Sottochiesa, we passed this painting on a building just off the road. Unfortunately I couldn’t read the text. It’s hard to know whether it is an original from centuries past or something done more recently such as the painting Elisa created for her baita. Angelo referred me to Ilaria for more infomation. It also reminds me of illustrations from a book of fairy tales from my childhood.

The trip back to Sottochiesa offered a very clear view of the church in Pizzino. The town looks entirely different from this perspective.

Tired after yesterday’s late night and today’s early rising for the produce truck, I took a little nap, as many people seem to do after eating lunch at about 1pm. I’m starting to get into the rhythm here, but soon I will be off to the city. Tomorrow is my full presentation. It’s going to be another stifling hot day, with some wind, I hope, to blow the banners.

1 thought on “Day 21 – Val Taleggio”

  1. It appears that everything is well watered and green. Is this part of Italy not suffering from drought? I cringe to think of you walking that mossy, pebbled path to view the Carlo Borromeo fountain! Elisa sleeps on the table??? Doesn’t sound like they are escaping the heat to any great extent.

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