Your correspondent is on a working holiday in northern Italy for almost 4 weeks, and that means that there will be a strong Italian edge to the content. The purpose of the holiday is to put some distance from Finland and from the Covid’s straight jacket.
Hiking in the mountains here is the cure for part of the day, while writing and reading in beautiful surroundings is the second rather intense restorative activity.
Unfortunately, the start of our journey was not good. We flew to Munich with the national carrier (Finnair) in a half empty plane. That was fine but then trip to the Dolomites from the airport was meant to be a quick 4 hours via Germany and Austria, missing out on the Italian Autostrada, which, at the best of times, is worse that a F1 racing circuit.
Italian drivers are crazy risk takers at high speeds who seem to infect German drivers, the ones who sit in big powerful Mercedes and SUV Porches, with a mindless determination to drive more than 200km/h! And polluting lorries from Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine seem to breed like rabbits on the motorways.
But once we arrived the sun started to shine and the temperature was well over 24C, with the high sharp-toothed mountains all covered in big fat spruce, the likes of which we never see in Finland. Here the spruce on the mountain sides are cut very sparingly to stop snow and stone avalanches, even though most recent heavy winds and storms have felled thousands of trees. The spruce are so much taller, thicker and older than in Finland, where the insatiable appetite of the three big forestry companies for raw wood means that trees are cut down well before their aged brothers here. Another contrast is that Finnish forests seldom have hundreds of big trees that have been uprooted by winds and storms. Here the forests are full of such trees even though the demand for sawn timber has gone through the roof.
Climate change has hit Italian forests with a vengeance. The locals talk about hotter summers, really heavy snow fall, and heavy rains and winds all being the new normal.
Covid too has heralded big changes in behaviour – Italians are famous for ignoring laws and regulations, but now everybody here wears a mask indoors… no exceptions are tolerated and nobody seems to object. That is some kind of progress….