Close friends know I’m not Irish, but 100% German.
And as a child of the Second World War, I’ve always been fascinated with everything connected to that war.
So I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the house Bonnie and I are renting for the next month was once a WWII German lookout. The house, known as “Sasso” or “rock,”sits thousands of feet up in the Apennines Mountains outside of Pistoia, from where we can see as far off as Florence some 50 miles away, and the ocean, equally distant. And the layers upon layers of lush green mountain ranges surround us and can be seen as far away as the eye can see.
The house still has the trench (now re-enforced with stone walls) that the Germans crawled though when the Allies’ artillery found its range. They crawled though this trench into a “bomb shelter” still in place under the house.
The property was also once home to a very large German cannon that did terrible damage to Allied troops, until the tide of the war changed and the Germans were defeated in Italy.
But is a bit sobering to stand on the front patio, look out over all the amazing beauty that sounds us, and reflect back on the horrors of WWII. And to realize how many nations, especially ours, are at war today. Its as though we’ve learned nothing these past 80-years. And if an American, its to realize its not the Germans or the Italians that are waging wars today, but America. And at least 6 or 7 as I write. And that we have military bases in over 150 other nations.
To reach the house one must drive up the mountain, through the great woods, on a hard scrabble dirt road that is two-kilometers from the nearest village. Once understood, it’s a slow and rough 5-7 minute ride. But on our first night in the house we hadn’t discovered the correct route yet. And other equally rough paths or roads intersect with it, and so it took us nearly two hours to finally complete the trip. But now we know the trick and it’s really no longer the challenge it seemed at first.
Just before we arrive at our house we past a small field that is home to two donkeys, pets of our nearest neighbor, Patricio and his wife and daughter. Whenever a car goes by, which is very seldom, they neigh that donkey honk…in fact they are doing it right now. Once you know what it is it’s actually a lovely sound.
The first evening in our house, while the owner was still showing us around, several hikers presented themselves as the front gate. One of the group had grown up a hundred yards or so down the road. He now travels the world for the furniture company he works for and has been to Los Angeles “at least 80 times”. Just another “small world” story.
I’ve never lived high in the mountains before, in such relative isolation. But I am quickly finding I like it. Opps…Bonnie’s just let me know the Pasta’s done, so I’m about to open the lovely bottle wine our new “landlord” gave us and ooh and aah over the view.
Another piece of our view