I’m sitting here waiting for a man to come and look for Fainas. It’s just another part of country life here in Italy, dealing with the critters who share their habitat with us pesky humans. A Faina is a small animal that I have personally never seen, but the pictures on Google show a VERY cute little critter resembling a ferret. These little guys hibernate in the winter months and very often choose the nearest warm roof space to do so. Unfortunately, the house we live in had a couple in residence at one time and the little buggers caused a bit of damage when they woke up. Nothing serious, just some holes here and there and the Faina Man is the guy who comes to “bag ’em and tag ’em”…..err….that is to say give them a permanent hibernation. I’m all ready to talk to him and explain where the problem is, so I hope he actually arrives this time.
Meanwhile, I have some new photos to share. Last weekend, as part of our quest to cover as much of Lunigiana as possible, we drove down to Fosdinovo. We had read about the area and it seemed to be a very popular spot for tourists and castle-appreciators like us. In fact, I think they have the best castle I have ever seen! The drive to Fosdinovo includes much steep climbing up into the mountains with the accompanying spectacular views of tiny villages built precariously on the cliffs. The air got colder and colder as we ascended up the winding roads, which made it even less fun for poor little Denver who had to exit the vehicle for a “breath of fresh air” just short of Fosdinovo.
We decided lunch would be best eaten first before the Castle exploration, so we drove to a little place called “Il Faro” (the lighthouse) just down the road from Giuoco. If you are ever near Fosdinovo, seek this restaurant out – it is EXCELLENT! The food is authentic and they serve items unique to the region. Instead of the usual bread basket, there was a basket of a sort of fried bread in little puffy square pillow shapes. The outside was crispy and slightly salty, and the inside was soft fluffy bread. Carb heaven! I WISH I could remember the name of it….something like “sbeglio”? I really must photograph the menu next time. Anyway, it was delicious and went well with my hand-made pasta strips with wild boar sauce. Yum! The boys all had delicious meals also.
Fosdinovo is a walled and very defensible village on the top of a mountain. It is dominated by its castle which is in pretty good condition for its age (it’s about 1000 years old). We walked our delicious lunch off amongst the steep and narrow streets on our journey toward the castle. When we arrived it was closed (of course) but we were able to walk around the internal courtyard, stairs and around the outside. I LOVE this castle! It is intact and quite magnificent in its daunting sheer walls, towers and battlements. A local man we spoke to who lives across from this castle (I mean, can you imagine walking out your front door every morning and looking at a castle?) says that it is haunted too. Nothing like a ghost to get the tourists in. We’re definitely going back in the summer when it’s open.
We walked around Fosdinovo for the afternoon and explored the narrow winding streets. There were very few people around as it was such a cold and windy day (about 3°C) which gave a very lonely feel to the village. There were the usual amount of abandoned houses, but these seemed even sadder on such a winter’s day. We stopped off for coffee/chocolate to warm us up before heading home.
Bagnone is the gateway to many different parts of Lunigiana. From Bagnone, there are signs leading off to numerous little mountainside villages and on Sunday we drove up the only one we’d yet to travel on. We wanted to visit all the little villages on the way to (and beyond) Treschietto. It wasn’t a particularly long drive, and on such a beautiful day it was a real pleasure. The main attraction for us was (yet again) an ancient castle. To our suprise, upon arrival in Treschietto, we discovered that this particular castle was located in somebody’s private backyard!
Not to be discouraged, we wandered around the village for a bit and met some local ladies. Out of pure luck, one of them was able to let us in to see the castle. Now I don’t know if it was her house that backed on to it, or if tourists were always being let in to see it, we were just grateful to get a closer look. The castle was once the residence of a member of the Malaspina family. It was built sometime around 1350. This castle is now just ruins, but you can still clearly see the round tower and remnants of the walls and windows. We climbed up the steep mound and walked around inside the ruins. The kids loved it! We loved it!! Ruined castles are just as good as intact ones I think.
Well the Faina Man came and went and I managed to tell him (in pretty good Italian) that we need him to look for the animals and also to fix the holes. He understood and is coming back tomorrow. Some days you just nail the language! 🙂