February 13, 2024

It’s that time of year, most of us in the northern hemisphere, whether US or Canada, northern Europe are waking up to drizzle & cold windy days in need to a summer holiday to boost out vitamin D; I ‘m glad to see the weather in Tuscany is full sun for the next ten days, 18C. The buds are beginning to break through and the olive trees have been heavily pruned and vines are ready to be tied to their posts. A unique Italian tradition is to plant willow trees near vines. They sprout vigorously every year, so every Easter the farmer cuts 1 metre long shoots to tie up the vines. The rest of the world use wire or string but the Italians prefer their own organic method.

Wild boars are common in Tuscany but are very really seen apart from with car headlights at night. They shoot about 200 in the valley very season Nov – February with packs of hounds. Most of the shooting is for game birds. It is very carefully managed by the cacciatore (hunters). The cacciatore have a good reputation as excellent hunters and the packs of cinghiale (wild boar) dogs are looked upon with a lot of respect.

In Italy, as with most of Europe, the Italians have the ‘right to roam’ policy which allows hunting in all areas. In the winter months we often see the cacciatore (often dressed toe to toe in Armani) with their retrievers and pointers walking in the vines, olive groves. Italian farmers often leave trees for cover wild birds and animals.

Every year when we’re having lunch on the Kitchen terrace I see our friendly redstart has returned to nest on an old chestnut beam in the stala (barn). The swallows will also return soon. After their epic journey from southern Africa they return to nest in the barn; as soon as they return they start re-building – isn’t nature incredible. In the really hot months they dive bomb the pool to keep hydrated.

I am always blown away by the art, country, culture and of course the views around Tuscany. The ancient Devil’s Bridge is over the River Serchio and 5 mins north of Ponte a Moriano.

Every summer we benefit from lots of migratory birds, like bee-eaters that nest in the nearby sandstone cliffs, also golden oriels that love the fruits and the red-backed-shrikes.

A bird with us all year is the barn owl that lives in the barn. Sadly, we’ve had a few owl fatalities probably from Eagles or Eagle Owls.

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