WE thought that was such a lovely story (even if I have taken a bit of a liberty with the translation).

But fireflies weren't the only other species that considered Collelungo their home. The name of the farm means 'Long Hill' in English — that's a picture of it above; you can see more here —  and apart from the vineyards and olive groves most of the 200 acres was virgin woodland. This was a natural habitat for deer and wild boar; we had snakes and porcupines and a whole variety of bird life, with some wonderful songbirds such as nightjars. Owls kept us ex-Londoners (more used to the noise of the No.27 bus roaring past) awake in the beginning, until we tuned in to the incredible beauty of the Tuscan night and became accustomed to the sounds of silence.

Oh, and we had to get used to hunters too. More particularly, their dogs. As if gunfire wasn't enough to make you jump out of bed at daybreak, their mutts were the end. They were forever getting lost, the sound of their tinkling bells driving us to distraction as day turned to night and we could still hear them well past midnight. There was only one thing for it: I had to get out the trusty Renault and go looking for them in my pyjamas — with nil effect.


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