Unable to travel anywhere, in this time of Covid, I’ve been reading again old notebooks, which accompanied me on journeys to Italy, and time spent in precious places.
Here are some notes from 2017 when I was in Puglia:
Lunch of open textured bread,castagno honey, cheese – soft and creamy from Norcia – pistachio nuts and red pepper.
I’m almost beneath the ground, in a cave, beside a circular space where the horses would have been gathered. The ground is soft to touch, there’s a tiny river bed, and orange and lemon trees are hanging with fruit; an old broken mill wheel is propped up nearby.
The cave with its soft brown animal floor, stone licked by horse’s tongues, the mill-stone’s memory traced in the stone ceiling, sun-white revolving; all your feet together you ponies, your hot breath, quivering mouse-brown noses, your shoulders straining against leather and weight of rock (sasso).
The ramp you walked down is behind me. You were led by men, short of stature, their elbows pressing into your hairy hot damp necks, your hindquarters slipping, hocks bent, little pointed toes digging in.
How long did you walk in this cave, circling beneath the rock sun, pressing olives for oil?
The ground in here is wet and cold, a rich chestnut brown, holding. Your hooves would have sucked into it before slipping on the white rock.
In Ostuni, in the empty white streets, I remember the old man with the Capriolo skull I should have bought.It was impossibly elegant and beautiful. I wasn’t fully present. We returned several times to find him, but he’d gone.
Castagno honey scents recall walks in ancient forests, where the air was thick with tree pollen and quiet; all bird song muffled. They were resting. The path was quiet, long, pine-scented, leafy, endless.
Monks tended bees in multi-coloured hives.
In the valley their immense jars were filled with oils.