07 February 2009

Wettest winter in 40 years...

La Frana

This winter has found Italy dripping wet, literally. Up in Marche it seemed that since November there were few days when it didn’t rain and the rivers were full and the mountains were covered with a good blanket of snow. The few sunny days were days when the piazze were full of people enjoying a respite from the dreary skies.

Here in southern Campania, specifically the Cilento area, they seem to have had a winter just as wet as Ascoli, if not more so. The locals we have talked to describe a normal season in this area where November and December see some rain but the majority of the winter is relatively dry. We have repeatedly heard about three months of almost constant la pioggia this winter and word has it that this is the wettest since 1968. This has created two obvious problems for the area that are visible as you travel the country side.

First are the frequent signs blocking road access because of le frane, mudslides. Some of these are relatively small piles of rock on the side of the road while others have either completely covered some narrow winding mountain road or caused portions of the roadway to slip down the hillside. The tricky part with these as you are driving around is many times the signs are only a few meters before la frana which inevitably occurs on a curve. Drivers beware!

There have also been stories in the local paper about towns in the hills being isolated temporarily by a mudslide, or residents with houses in the countryside being unable to access their properties. There was even one story where some women were out jogging one morning and una frana occurred above them and almost rained rocks and mud upon them.

The second observation is that many of the olive groves still have their nets laid out amongst the trees. Usually the olive harvest is complete before the holiday season but this year the constant rain has prevented many growers from finishing their harvest. We talked to one local grower who said that just last weekend, after two continuous days without rain, he was finally able to finish harvesting his olives.

Everyone one is looking for a break in the wet winter but fortunately we have at least been experiencing warmer temperatures with partial breaks in the dreary overcast since arriving in the Cilento area.

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