After a long absence, this afternoon I wanted to go back to the countryside between the hills and sea in the lower province of Livorno, which even in this wintry season, looks extremely suggestive and that can give, to those passing through, a serenity that only places like this can transmit.
Taking the provincial road SP 16A from Bibbona towards Castagneto Carducci, the landscape offers rolling hills that slope down towards the sea with a succession of olive groves, vineyards and forests of holm-oak and oak trees. Here and there, there are ploughed fields, which in this period are a bright brown colour thanks to the light rainfall over the last few days, and vines stripped of their leaves, waiting to be pruned.
In the 5km that separate Bibbona and the Avenue of Cypresses at Bolgheri, you come across a number of agritourism farms and country houses and the entrance, at the 3km point along the provincial road SP16A, to the ‘Tenuta di Biserno’, an estate that produces excellent wines.
Continuing along this provincial road, you arrive at the Avenue of Cypresses, which connects San Guido to Bolgheri “in duplice filar” [“in double rows”], as the poet Giosuè Carducci recounts.
After a few minutes on this cypress-lined avenue going towards Bolgheri, you reach the beginning of the town, that today presented itself with the sun illuminating the castle facade, while in the background the sky didn’t look any too promising.
If, at the junction of the provincial road, rather than going to Bolgheri, you turn right towards the sea, after about 1 km there is the junction with the provincial road SP16B that, from the Avenue of Cypresses reaches Castagneto Carducci and where, along the way, you pass all the best Super Tuscan wineries. I look forward to telling you about these in one of my next articles.
I arrived in Itaunas (Espirito Santo) from Arrajal d’Ajuda via Euanopolis, where I took the connection for Santo André and from there to Conceicao da Barra to end my journey by taking the bus from Conceicao da Barra to my destination.
If I hadn’t had to wait for the connection for Conceicao da Barra from 3am to 12pm, it would have been an normal journey with 3 simple connections. To spend nine hours in the middle of the night in a bus station in an average Brazilian town is however, an adventure within an adventure.
Let me be clear, I am not talking about security, far from it, but the waiting around with nothing to do in a place that begins to slowly come alive at 3 in the morning, when it is possible to closely observe Brazil, the real one, with all its contradictions and its pluses.
Waiting at the Rodoviaria meant that I also met two globetrotting French people on their 6 month journey around South America who had the same destination as me and so we ended up being together for 2 days.
Finally by 4pm we reached Itaunas , with its typical streets of sand, that make the town look like a place from another era, almost unreal, perhaps also because of its geographical position that makes it difficult to reach from the main roads.
The carnival in February enlivens Itaunas, but even more people arrive in July for the Forro’ Festival,a typical dance of the north-eastern area and that is known of all over Brazil.
In the days when I was staying there, there must have been just fifty tourists, so it was easy and cheap to find a place to sleep or to eat in the few restaurants that were open and where you can enjoy the tasty Moqueqa dell’Espirito Santo, a vegetable and fish soup.
It is worth visiting the beach at Itaunas that can be reached from the Sand dunes that lie between the sea and today’s town but that covers the entire old town that was built between 1750-1800 after cutting down the forest that lay close to the beach. In 1930, thanks to the continual wind on the beach, little by little the old houses disappeared under the sand and the houses moved back to their current position.
The beach is part of the Estadual de Itaunas Park,a 3,674 hectare nature reserve which stretches for 25 km along the coast and has 20-30 metre high sand dunes. You will see many animals there, including monkeys, sloths, armadillos (tatú) and many others. The park is also one of the bases of the Projeto Tamar and in February I was able to witness, together with the biologists, the hatching of the eggs and the turtles entering the ocean to start their new life.