Return to Pimpinella (by Frank)
It’s a year since we last visited Laura at Pimpinella, high above the Reno valley, but as we pull up outside the rambling house, the Tibetan silks are still flapping in the wind and the doors are open – there’s a course in full swing and the participants are out gathering herbs and plants soon to be transformed into essences, soaps and salves. (See our flikr pics from last year)
Although she knows our arrival is imminent, Laura greets us effusively and like long-lost friends on a surprise visit. It’s so lovely to see her buzzing around like a queen bee – we’ve taken to calling her a white witch as she certainly manages to put everyone under some sort of magical spell within the confines of her place. We are invited to join the evening meal and are soon in deep conversations with Laura’s new woofers and those on the course. After dinner, Ruth serenades us on her fiddle – that’s not to denigrate her instrument but her repertoire is predominantly Celtic – much to everyone’s delight.
The next morning it’s sunny enough for us to continue with our Yoga challenge outside and we are joined by Nava and Kato the woofers – over the next few days the sessions grow but by the end of our stay it’s back to just the two of us on the mats. One of our much used phrases is Not now Kato! from the hilarious exchanges between Peter Sellers and Bert Kwok in the Pink Panther films, which we feel a need to share with Kato. We show him a YouTube compilation of clips and thankfully he finds them amusing too. Ruth gets stuck in to some back-breaking work, clearing one of the sloping terraces of the tenacious roots which threaten to overwhelm the rosemary ‘plantation’. Meanwhile I do some cooking, which is also hugely appreciated. When the course is over and the clear-up is complete, we take a trip down to Sasso Marconi to buy some decent garden forks and a selection of climbing roses to add further colour to an already vibrant garden but also to cover the bare trunk of a dead tree. We also go on an outing in Freedom, Laura’s VW camper, to Monte Sole, where there’s a commemorative festival honouring the resistance movement from the 2nd World War. (Some of you may remember Ruth’s chapter about Montesole from our first visit to this area). The high spot for us, after a glorious picnic, is a very tight and joyous Samba Band, Marakatimba, from Bologna that Laura used to play with.
Back at Pimpinella we learn of a plan Laura and her daughter Gaia have hatched, to run a Herbalists course for English speakers, which we then help write an advertising flyer for. It s so nice to repay the kindness Laura showers on us each time we visit.
Next day we head for Monte Sole to catch up with Mauro, who runs Il Poggiolo, the Albergo and Restaurant at the heart of the weekend’s festivities and who we’d chatted to briefly at the Festival. He is absolutely exhausted, having got to bed at 4 in the morning, so I offer him a re-generative massage. At first, the idea of such an intimate encounter with another man is too much for him but after some persuasion from Ruth, he agrees to come early the next day to a toasty-warm Emma and receive his first ever massage – and Boy, did he need it! To his surprise and by his own admission he looks and feels 10 years younger when he ‘comes to’.
Later we invite him and Laura to lunch. Though near neighbours, they haven’t ever spent time together and it is lovely to connect these 2 people who share such passion for the area and its wild nature.
In turn, Mauro invites Ruth and myself to eat up at the restaurant where we enjoy a delicious pasta cooked in the regional style and with local ingredients. Then, having sussed out the possibilities of hosting some form of group holiday, to include Pimpinella, archery, horse riding and walking in the National Park, we take our leave and head North. Whilst looking for a camper-stop we catch sight of what turns out to be Mantova and go and explore this evocative sounding city.
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