Can you imagine a situation where hotels, restaurants, apartments, and bars are all spotless and well maintained?
Can you think of villages where buildings are built beautifully, where doors, windows, and other wooden fittings are carefully constructed, without any screw or nail visible, where all the corner joints are perfectly square – no matter how old they are?
Can you imagine gardens and balconies overflowing with flowers, where vegetable gardens look like colourful additions to their front gardens, and where wood piles are stacked with exact precision and flowering potted geraniums are interspersed inside the stacks.
Lawns are cut precisely, there is no litter, no graffiti, only well-kept clean painted walls, high thick wooden eaves and meticulously laid out tiled roofs.
Buses run like clockwork, shops open and close on time, with a long two hour siesta for lunch at home, and everyone is working to keep the place clean and tidy – running smoothly.
This is a place where farms have grass pastures are the sides of the valley and a huge stone home surrounded by even bigger barns for tractors and farm equipment right in the middle of the village.
Flies, the small black ones, are attracted by the big piles of dung just outside the barn that the farm store as fertiliser for the fields after the long grass is cut, dried and collected by three different red collectors from the fields.
The thick brown dung sludge is drained from the deep concrete bunkers into “Fratelli CUM” wheeled tanks (what a name!) that are then pulled by the heavy 4-wheeled tractors up the pastures where they are then sprayed happily into the air to fall in big brown droplets onto the close cropped pasture.
You may think the odour in the village is rather ripe, but once the dung is sprayed out onto the fields life gets back to the normal with the underlying homely farm odours that are less intrusive… that is if you do not go too near the freshly treated fields!
There are not too many places in the world where a town or village has farm life right in its centre as part of the life there. But in the Dolomites it is a way of life because there is not a lot of room for having the farms elsewhere. A small village in a valley can only have one main road and that has to be beside the river that drains the water away from the high mountains.
The lower parts of the valley are ideal for grass pastures and crops while the higher reaches need to be forested to hold the rocks and earth from the serious threat of mud slides that are seen so often in under-developed economies where all the wood is used for cooking and warmth.
Here in the Dolomites the trees are old and thick and only felled for heavy sawn timber and thick planks. Trees are their deposits in the bank – it is their heritages and they are treated with great respect and care.
Life is centred on the farms, the milk, the cheese, the other dairy products, the meat and wool to make felt that covers their cushions and from which they make heavy curtains and traditional felt hats…
It is a traditional way of life that will surely continue for years to come because it works…