c u c u d o

[ 17:00 thursday 31 august – monte cucudo, calabria, italy ]

this is fantasic! i’m on top of mount cucudo in the aspromonte, eight hundred and twenty metres above sea level. far below me is the town of cittanova, which i left an hour ago. beyond the town the olive-covered plain spreads west to the tirrenian coast twenty kilometres hence.

far to the north i can see the cliffs of capo vaticano. to the south the rising peaks of the aspromonte jostle away into the distance. most magical of all, centred in the glittering horizon, is the black cone of stromboli. even though it’s eighty kilometres away i’m half convinced i can hear its eruptions, whose pattern and sound are etched so deeply in my consciousness. is this some acoustic freak of the mountains or just my imagination?

this morning i woke at seven and phoned gaetano. the sun was shining but he said rain was coming and we must postpone our walk. sure enough within an hour it was tipping down. i was a little crestfallen but this afternoon the sky cleared so i came out with my camera. i started exploring a dry streambed, following the rock-strewn channel away from the edge of the town. after a while i realised my feet were taking me up the mountain so i simply carried on and here i am at the top. i took a couple of false trails and wound up picking my way through thorns, but mostly it was easy to find the way. it’s not the day-long hike i had in mind but it would be churlish to lament that.

yesterday evening michele told me that “cucudo” (the name of this peak – also written “cuculo”) is the local word for a single hailstone. there’s a  completely different word for the plural. the dialect here is lovely.

: c :

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