Discover Nature’s Magic

We’re lucky here in Abruzzo, there’s always something to keep us occupied; treks into the national parks, a visit to one of the many places of historical interest or simply quiet contemplation beside the sea. This region of Italy is so diverse, making it a great place to immerse yourself and take time out to visit more than your average tourist haunt. Despite not being a tourist I still enjoy a day trip out and at the end of last month we found a unique gem of a place, a perfect place for families with children and anyone who has an interest in living as naturally as possible.

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The place we discovered is situated in the L’Aquila region and is called, Fattoria Valle Magica (Magic Valley Farm). The farm may sit in a valley with awe-inspiring views of the rugged wilderness surrounding it, but what is more inspiring is the concept and ethos of the farm which is the brainchild of Ralph and Ninke.

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Our visit started with a warm welcome from Ralph and his family before he began to explain the vision for the farm. He explained that fed up with the stress of modern living and checking labels to see what his 4 children were eating, the family purchased the house and land and in the spring of 2015 began transforming a wild and neglected terrain into a place where they could raise rare breeds organically and live as naturally as possible.

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While we looked at the sheep and goats Ralph explained that the farm focuses on breeding and conserving rare and traditional Italian breeds that are no longer used in modern commercial farming. Using organic sensibilities these breeds may take longer to mature but the emphasis swings closer to the welfare of the animal rather than the profit margins. A quick call summoned a deluge of happy pigs that ran towards us from where they’d been foraging and we could see for ourselves how the group enjoyed living life as nature intended.

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We took a tour of the farm seeing the immense amount of work that had gone on to fence areas to protect the livestock from the local wolves: Ralph dug and sited around 700 fence posts by hand. We met the chickens, rabbits, turkeys and his collection of hives before heading back to the BBQ area for a glass of wine and to sample some home reared lonza (cured pork loin).

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The farm has plans to open an education centre and to welcome people for visits where they can purchase produce to take home or to cook al fresco in the BBQ area. We enjoyed our visit very much and found it both educational and thought provoking.

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If you’re visiting Abruzzo and looking for something different then I recommend you give Magic Valley Farm a visit, who knows you may even be lucky to help out with feeding the contented animals that reside there. The address for visits is, Località Ponte Amaro, 67020 Carapelle Calvisio AQ, Italy. But please note as this is a working farm and all bookings must be made in advance, to make a booking or for more information click this Website link

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Our day came to a close with us purchasing the produce we had originally ordered and we left Ralph to settle in his newly arrived native Abruzzese black pigs.

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As a postscript I can confirm that the quality of the produce we purchased surpassed anything we have previously bought from supermarkets and commercially farmed butchers.

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Lucky

Lucky One

This morning as the sun streamed through the windows I was checking my emails when Alf barked, I looked up and at the top of the lane I saw Michele, (pronounced Mick-ay-lee) I waved and went outside to say hello. He told me had walked up from Merosci to wish me a happy New Year before he heads off to visit his family in Rome. I feel blessed to have such a friend who takes the time whenever he’s passing to drop in and chat. Acceptance by the local community is important to me, and I’m grateful that so many of the Italians have taken the time to say hello and ask how we’re getting on with the house and garden.

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View from Bomba

Lucky Two

It’s January and a sound floated across the valley that I’ve been hearing everyday for the past nine months, but today it stopped me in my tracks and made me smile. The sound came from the farm where my friend Nicola works in the afternoons with his brother who lives there. The farm has chickens, rabbits, pigs and for the past nine months three big fat turkeys. Today the sun is high and the morning warm; unlike in the UK where there are several serious flood warnings, and as I pootled about on my orto the gobble of a turkey reached my ears. I looked up and there among the chickens was one solitary turkey. I wonder if its thinking, where have the other two gone?

I know they’ve gone to the dinner table, Nicola told me a few weeks ago that the turkeys were for Christmas, so this is one lucky fella to have made it through to the New Year.

Lucky Three

I have to go to the shop, and as I drive there I notice I’m smiling, something I used to do when I first arrived here in Italy, today the weather is nice and the snow on the mountains is as white as a freshly laundered napkin. With only one solitary cloud in sight, the sky is an ocean blue colour that compliments the silver underside of the olive leaves that move in the gentle breeze. The grass is a deep and lush  and the fallen leaves of brown and gold look like gems amid the green. Surrounded by such beauty, who wouldn’t smile. I’m lucky to live in a place that makes me feel so good as I go about a mundane job like shopping,

Burning Bales

We’ve had a few problems these past few nights with cinghiale (wild boar) coming down from the hills to forage for the local produce due to be harvested, part of this is possibly because they know it’s harvest time and pomegranates and sweet corn are ripe and in part to it being hunting season, so many become displaced by hunters; for hunters please read, nutters in high-vis jackets taking pot shots at anything that moves, including each other. So far this year, the tally of hunters accidentally shot in Italy by fellow hunters is 29.

Last night I was talking to Loui, he told me that they’ll leave a straw bale burning outside the farm entrance and at the rear to deter the marauding hogs, he also warned me to keep an eye on the dogs. “Would you like a bale of straw to burn?” he asked me, I declined his offer, worried that knowing my luck I’d set fire to the car and eventually blow up the top of the lane, leading to a major fire that will wipe out the olive groves surrounding us. “Well, you’d best mark the road.” I gave him a puzzled look and he thought for a while, then acted out, peeing in a straight line. I smiled, nodded my head and responded, “Ho capito.”

So today as gunshots crack the early autumn air, every time I’ve felt the need to pee I’ve been up at the top of the lane, keeping a keen eye out for passing traffic as I pee in a straight line, creating an invisible barrier across the land that leads down to our house.

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  Did it work? I’m not entirely sure, but we didn’t get a visit from the boar last night, and had a barking dog free night.

  Or maybe word has got out in the wild pig population, that there’s a strange man making a fence out of pee, so they’ve decided that running the  gauntlet with the nutters with guns is a saner option.

Picture via, free-picture.net