Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Why England continued

Why not Italy (continued)


Another essential issue is the state of the environment which sadly is rather blighted in Italy.
Of course this cannot be generalized. There are still some unspoiled areas in this country but they are not situated as to form a system which one can walk a long distance across without interruptions.

The first destroyers of the Italian environment (here I don't take in consideration the pollution) are the real estate developers.
The concrete is unrelentingly spreading everywhere. The most aggressed area is the seaside: hundreds - if not even thousands - kilometers of coasts are no more than long rows of concrete.
But nothing seems to resist the concrete: countryside, Alps, Apennines, archaeological sites, national and regional parks.

An other cause of nature and landscape spoiling is the unrelenting tracing of roads. The Apennines are particularly stricken by this fever: roads everywhere; for hunting, for second homes, for skying, for gas pipes maintenance, etc.

Last but not least the damage done to the environment by the citizens themselves. Sadly, the average Italian - regardless of his assertions, is often disrespectful of the environment.
One cannot walk - even in the woods - without stumbling across illegal buildings or rubbish of any type (even old fridges, gas stoves, toilet bowls, etc.).

Luckily this situation is not absolute: there are still scattered areas of excellence although things get worse as one moves southwards.

Let me give some real life examples.

I live just near a volcanic lake bordered by a primeval wood with some remnants of Roman works. Two footpaths make the circuit of the lake: through the wood and along the shore.
When I moved in this area 16 years ago, I eagerly tried to walk those paths but I gave it up soon: rubbish, stray dogs, mountain bikers at full speed, etc.
Mind you, it is a "Regional Park"!

Later I tried some trails described in a regional (Lazio) footpaths guide hoping that - away from urban areas - things might be better: unfortunately I found the same situation.

Somebody could say this is not true for the whole country. I already said above that it must not be generalized but even in the very refined Tuscany (where I lived for 30 years), although the situation was far better than here in Lazio, I had unpleasant experiences.

For instance, when after a 4 hours mountain trekking, I reached the source of Arno, the first thing watered by the rivulet springing from the rock was a Coca Cola can!
Of course I don't think it was dropped by somebody who, like me, had walked so many hours. Unfortunately, a freshly opened road, allowed people to come by car a few yards from the source.

I want to conclude this post with an anthropological consideration: I think that Mediterranean peoples have a problematic relationship to Nature!
When the average Mediterranean moves from the sweetish fake imagery into the true real life Nature he feels it as a threatening entity.
How to explain otherwise the customary violence he inflicts to Nature. I mean gratuitously not for gain which is an universal behaviour.
I finish this post with a challenge proposed to my gentle reader:

How to interpret that the average Mediterranean (or at least Italian) scarcely goes out into Nature (countryside, seaside, woods, etc.) without his panoply of gadgets (branded garments, I-Pods, etc.) and, when possible, motor vehicles he hardly parts from (how often I have seen people picnicking beside their car on the very border of a road skirting a wood or meadow).

I could go on a great deal with such sad stories but it would be very gloomy. So, enough with this topic.
I promise to be positive in the next post: I am going to tell, at last, why I chose England for long distance walking.

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