Monday, September 30, 2013


We brought some visitors to see Papasidero's Grotta del Romito and noticed a town above the road that we decided to come back to visit. The name of the town is Avena and it's about 3 kilometers north of Papasidero. According to what we have learned about it (which isn't so much), the population is now at 5 inhabitants. We can believe that because as we walked around, there was only one home that showed signs of current life--plants on the balcone, etc. No one stirred, no dogs barked. There are plenty of abandoned homes in this part of Italy, but this is the first town we've experienced that was just about totally deserted. It was haunting enough to share with you--and it was a nice excuse to see some more rugged country in our neighborhood:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Burning Issues

Summer usually means wildfires. We did notice a decrease in the large fires this summer. It has been warm and dry since 1 July, but not much fire activity until now. Is it because they arrested two guys last year in Verbicaro for arson? Could be. Maybe also that this summer, we didn’t have the typical midday breezes that push fires, so the arsonists didn’t bother?

The first photo (with the helicopter) was a week ago when someone started a fire below the local forest near the Esso fueling station. I drove past the start point of the fire, but didn’t snoop around. I’d guess it was either a cigarette or intentional. The fire ran fast up the mountain and we had the helo working below with one of the Canadair tanker planes hitting the top of the mountain. Sadly, about 5 of the attractive Calabrian pine (pinus brutia) trees on the ridge were probably mortally torched.

This fire we watched while eating lunch on the terrace. It started as a small farmer fire and quickly went out of control. I lay down for a nap and was awakened less than ½ hour later by a helicopter working the fire. We don’t know if the farmers that lose control must pay for fighting their fires, or if the government just does it. The helos cost about €2,000 per hour and the planes, allegedly, are €10,000 per hour.  That seems high to me for a fixed wing, but it’s what I heard. Regardless, it is expensive and this shaky government cannot afford unnecessary costs.

I have to confess that I once was burning weeds on our farm and the fire got out of my control and I had to call for help. Very embarrassing since I was a Forest Service employee, a volunteer fire fighter, AND I was also on the board of directors of the fire department.  We stopped the fire in minutes, but my guilt guided me to make a healthy donation to the volunteer RFD.

We returned from the beach yesterday to see this string of three fires probably started by a guy driving along a road and starting a fire about every kilometer. Sure enough, two helicopters arrived together and spent a short time knocking the flames down with water they had dipped from the River Lao. I don’t know these European helos that are the size of a Bell 206L, so can carry about 1890 liters of water in their buckets.

We are getting a few more clouds each day as September changes the weather and light rain is in the forecast to put an end to the fires. Still nicely warm and the clouds made for un bel tramonto ieri sera:   Doug


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