Nortosce: the Italian town where just two people live, but wear masks


(CNN) — They’re the sole inhabitants of a tiny Italian hamlet, but these aged retirees aren’t taking any possibilities on the subject of upholding the nation’s strict Covid-19 guidelines.

Giovanni Carilli and Giampiero Nobili wear masks each time they meet and demand on standing one meter aside, regardless of the proven fact that they don’t have any neighbors and barely go away the secluded town of Nortosce.

Located in the province of Perugia in Umbria, widespread with vacationers, Nortosce sits above a rocky gorge in the Nerina Valley at an altitude of 900 meters, making it extraordinarily arduous to achieve.

But regardless of their distant place, neither Carilli, 82, or Nobili, 74, really feel protected against the virus, which has claimed the lives of almost 37,000 people in Italy.

“I’m dead scared of the virus,” Carilli tells CNN Travel. “If I get sick, I’m on my own, who would look after me?

“I’m previous, but I wish to hold dwelling right here taking care of my sheep, vines, beehives and orchard. Hunting truffles and mushrooms. I get pleasure from my life.”

‘A matter of principle’

Giovanni Carilli and Giampiero Nobili are the sole residents of Nortosce.

Silvia Marchetti

While native police have been handing out fines ranging from €400 to €1,000 (about $470 to $1,170) to those refusing to wear masks in some of the country’s most crowded cities, for Carilli and Nobili, face coverings are a sacred rule.

Nobili feels it would be disrespectful for either of them to ignore the strict measures put in place during the pandemic, despite their rather exceptional circumstances.

“Wearing a masks and respecting social distancing is just not just for well being causes,” he says.

“It’s not one thing ‘dangerous’ or ‘good’. If there are guidelines you could abide by them in your personal sake and different people’s. It’s a matter of precept.”

When the pair meet for an espresso at Carilli’s house, they sit at a two-meter-long table, one at each end.

They also make sure to maintain social distancing during their regular walks to an ancient Roman stone fountain to collect fresh spring water.

Carilli was born in the village, but spent much of his life making cured meats in Rome, before returning to live in his childhood home after his retirement.

Nobili, the brother of Carilli’s brother-in-law, also chose to reside here during his twilight years.

However, he still makes artisan jewelry, explaining that the abundance of nature in the town, which is surrounded by beautiful forests, helps to inspire his art.

As many former residents escaped to Rome and other cities to find work following a series of earthquakes in Italy during the late ’90s, Carilli and Nobili have the town to themselves most of the time.

Apart from each other, their only other companions are Carilli’s truffle dog and the five sheep he keeps in his backyard — although they still occasionally meet up with family outside of the hamlet.

Secluded town

Nortosce: the Italian town where just two people live, but wear masks

The pair’s solely different companions are Carilli’s 5 sheep, in addition to his truffle canine.

Silvia Marchetti

Nortosce is linked to the mainland by one single scenic street with hairpin turns and no guardrail, providing a wide ranging view over the wild Sibillini mountains, where pilgrims and vacationers as soon as roamed.

“That street ends proper right here, so no one comes until they’re headed straight to Nortosce,” says Carilli, who often goes truffle hunting with his beloved dog.

“There’s a little bit of social buzz, just throughout summer season, when households return to their ancestors’ home. So many people fled in the previous as a result of a number of horrible quakes.”

Tucked away in the hills, Nortosce is ideally situated for visiting the nearby Abruzzo and Marche regions, particularly the ancient Roman town of Ascoli Piceno.

The village dates back to the middle ages and according to legend, its first settler was a farmer from the nearby town of Rocchetta who came to plant a nut tree in an orchard.

The name Nortosce is derived from a combination of the words “nut” and “orchard” in ancient local dialect.

Carilli has fond memories of watching harvest festivals held on the little piazza in front of his home, where villagers would bring cows to stomp on the grain to clean it.

He also recalls his mother and her friends walking with ceramic pots on their heads to collect the refreshing spring water gushing from old troughs.

The town’s narrow winding alleys and arched passageways lead to an ancient church with a stunning belvedere, along with the ruins of the oldest section of the hamlet, covered in lush vegetation, where a number of new houses have since been built.

While Nortosce’s ancient castle crumbled to the ground years ago, a cluster of red, pink, green, orange and cream pastel-colored houses with brightly painted windows and medieval sloping walls remain — although they were partly restyled following the last major quake in the 1970s. Its cobblestone pavements are also remarkably well preserved.

The numerous dilapidated stone barns and stables with thick wooden medieval doors and metal bolts found here provide a glimpse into the rural life of the past.

Meanwhile, former donkey trails, now hidden by trees, unwind down a hill where an old railway used to run, while abandoned camper vans, once provided for post-earthquake relief, dot the neatly kept gardens.

Simple lifestyle

Nortosce: the Italian town where just two people live, but wear masks

Nobili, seen outdoors his dwelling, says he loves the simplicity of life in the abandoned town.

Silvia Marchetti

As there aren’t any bars, lodges, eating places, or perhaps a mini-market right here, the duo should get by on the naked necessities, and infrequently go to close by cities when required to.

“We lead a quite simple life: all we now have to supply is recent oxygen-rich air, peacefulness, silence and wholesome mountain water,” says Carilli.

“That’s our salvation. Whenever I must go to an enormous metropolis I really feel sick, I hate the noise.”

With forests of oaks, hornbeams, chestnut and pine trees juxtaposed with fields of wild berries, truffles, wild asparagus and mushrooms dotted with grazing goats, Nortosce’s scenery is spellbinding.

But its winters are harsh, and the remoteness can be difficult for residents to deal with.

The town currently has several renovated rural dwellings up for sale. In fact, one was recently sold for €20,000.

However, Nobili stresses that those keen to relocate here should prepare themselves for a major lifestyle adjustment.

“The way of life is nice but you could adapt,” he says. “There’s no retailer, no pharmacy, no physician.

“Each time you need to buy bread or get a prescription for pills you must go down to the nearby town of Borgo Cerreto.”

The town additionally has one thing of a spooky vibe, with wild boars and wolves stalking the space and infrequently killing sheep.

Years in the past, older residents spun tales of witches hiding in the white granite caves who stole horses at midnight to go on wild runs — villagers would apparently uncover the animals sweating the following morning.

While he admits Nortosce is not for everybody, Carilli would not commerce his life for something, and loves residing in such a novel place that permits him to be near nature.

His small winery yields a number of wine bottles, which he enjoys with platefuls of gnocchi and twisted handmade strangozzi pasta with lamb meat ragout.

“During winter it snows and it’s very cold,” he provides. “But we’re used to it and the day flies by.

“In the morning, I’m with the animals. In the afternoon, I tuck myself at dwelling and lightweight an enormous crackling hearth, staying shut inside in the cozy heat till the subsequent day.”



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