If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see the remains of an old construction in the foreground, probably a small stone hut used for storing tools and for getting out of the sun while eating your lunch on hot days. There’s not much left of it now, and the plot of land that it is on (and which you can’t see in the picture) has fallen equally into disuse, though it was once probably a vineyard. But it’s got one hell of a view above the Valley of Levanto.
By a quirk of fate, I own that small rundown hut and the overgrown piece of land. It made up part of our project to recuperate some of the scrappy land that was no longer being cultivated in this part of Liguria. We wanted to put together a small farm, a small guesthouse, and a small living in this land that we had always dreamed of moving to. City Hall put an end to that by giving us a flat No to our request to have permission to build.
Now that the floods in the Cinque Terre and elsewhere have come and gone, there is much talk in Liguria about lands that have fallen into disuse, and the danger they pose to everyone when severe weather comes knocking. And yet the authorities have put up some many roadblocks in people’s way that no one manages to do anything. The result? Lands that once made up one of the miracles of man over nature through the back-breaking construction of dry-stone walls and terraces that are, by the way, 100% eco-friendly, are now overgrown with brambles, wild heather, and other invasive species. Lands like ours.
This one little plot of land in the picture with its decrepit old hut still remains part of our dreams. Located near a trail that gives you views and experiences that are not easy to find in Italy, I can envision us recuperating the fallen stones and cutting back the invasive pines, building a small refuge out of all-natural materials, adding a solar panel, putting the autochthonous grape vines back in the ground, and letting it out to adventuresome no-impact hikers who want to spend unforgettable nights under the northern stars, gazing at the sea.
But this time, if I manage to do it, I’m not telling the f*ing city about it. Dreamers and bureaucrats don’t often see eye to eye.