17/08/2009 – 28/08/2009
(in the picture: Geraldine and one of the volunteers during a visit in Genova)
After working temporarily in the environment section of my local council, I decided to volunteer for a conservation project in the Italian mountains. I arrived at Campo Ligure railway station via plane, volabus and replacement bus on Monday 17th August at 6:30pm, our meeting point. I was greeted by Cristina Rossi and Gianni, leaders of the Capanne di Marcarolo Natural Park. Giovanni Vinciguerra was our camp leader and ticked our names off a list as we arrived. Our bags were put into the back of a truck and we were driven by car up a winding mountain road to our accommodation.
(In the picture: the accommodation)
The accommodation comprised of an old water mill, situated at the foot of
On the first evening Lara and Massimo told us that the loft was inhabited with flying animals, they were difficult to describe due to the language barrier. These animals hung from the eaves of the house, upside down. I initially thought they were bats but eventually we discovered they were called dormice. The next morning Lara showed me a dormouse huddled up in a towel, it had fallen down the toilet in the night. I could just see its face, pink nose and big eyes. It was shivering and we hoped that it would survive.
It was extremely hot on our first day of work; we painted picnic benches and wooden fences with varnish. The area was situated in a valley with surrounding mountains, open spaces and blue skies. It was located at the southernmost tip of the
After work on the second day, we visited a lake at the foot of the mountains. I had anticipated that it would be deep enough to swim in, although when we arrived it was more like an English stream. It was however very lovely to sit in as it was so hot and the surrounding scenery was amazing. The water was very clear and you could see fish swimming past your legs in the water.
Our most difficult task for the two weeks was to climb
(in the picture: cooking by the fire...)
The evenings were filled with guitar playing and singing, listening to Manu Chao, playing games and cooking potatoes, chicken and bread on the camp fire. We also drank grappa and occasionally went to the bar at the top of the hill for ice cream. Jesse, the dog from the bar often came down to visit us, particularly when we were cooking barbequed food. One evening Giovanni led us into the woods to try to hear and see wild animals. We sat in the dark listening for wolves, owls and any other animals that were nearby. We heard some scuffling but unfortunately we didn’t see anything.
(In the picture: volunteers enjoying their evenings together)
On the weekend we visited the local city called
Our last day of work involved varnishing wooden swing frames, see saws, benches and fences in a children’s playground. This was not the sort of playground you would find in
Gianni visited us on our last evening and played the accordion very well, he also brought alcohol and cakes as thank you gifts. It was a worthwhile experience visiting
Geraldine, Italy Summer 2009