Friday, March 24
Yesterday we went for a walk in a secret valley, the most beautiful, untouched, natural part of the town. Some years ago the local council wanted to build a multi-story car park here, not caring about the unspoilt beauty and cool stillness of the valley. Luckily their plans were stopped thanks to an incredible man who battled and succeeded in turning the valley into a WWF protected oasis.
Artist, poet and 'gypsy of the year' Gianni has lived in the valley for over 30 years, in a little stone temple in a secret garden hidden deep in the valley.There is no electricity, no heating and no neighbours. A stream runs through his little house providing fresh water. The secret garden was found in 1958 by australian artist Vali Myers. She moved in and in the early seventies Gianni arrived, a 17 year old hippy. He lived in a nearby cave for a while, then moved in with Vali. Over the years they have shared their home with a huge menagerie of animals. A donkey that lived to 39 years old, never working a day in its life. Enormous pigs that would sometime escape, causing havoc in the nearby town. Foxes, goats, frogs, mice, doves, chickens and numerous cats and dogs. Even now there are still over 20 dogs.
I first saw Vali and Gianni in the winter of 1993, dancing on the beach. Barefoot Vali with her tattooed face and bright red hair, many skirts and petticoats swirling around her legs. Gianni, fox pawprint tattoo on his forehead, skullcap and embroidered waistcoat. They were surrounded by curious children wanting to know if they were good or bad witches.
Lunch with Gianni is a wonderful experience. He will lay out a clean cloth on the floor of his little house-there are no tables or chairs, then go into the surrounding woods and find fresh eggs from the chickens, stinging nettles and elderflower blossoms. We eat elder blossom and nettle omlettes with fresh goats cheese and myrtles. Coffee is made on the camper stove and turned into cappucchino with warm frothy milk straight from the goat!
I've only managed to go and visit Gianni once since Skye was born. The climb up through the valley is long, difficult and slippery. With a baby or toddler in is near impossible. I attempted it once with baby in a backpack, but it rained heavily while we were there and Gianni had to help me back down with the 20-odd dogs weaving around at our feet.
Yesterday we took her for a little climb to see whether she could manage. She proved to be a natural and did a 25 minute climb without tiring. So soon we can visit Gianni again!
at 9:12 PM