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  • Writer's pictureAlex Subrizi

July blazes

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

Following news of record temperatures in the UK (hitting 40.2°C at Heathrow airport) and the wildfires devastating land and property in southwestern France, Spain and northern Portugal, we were further saddened to learn, on July 20th, of a major forest fire in the hills of Massarosa (midway between the city of Lucca and the coastal municipality of Viareggio) which had started the evening prior and quickly spread to engulf hundreds of mountainous hectares.

The Massarosa forests are about 100 km from Poggiosole, close enough to prompt a few guests with upcoming reservations to write us expressing concern.

It has indeed been very very dry since March, and, for the first time in nearly 20 years, we’ve been regularly hiring a water truck to keep our irrigation systems working and several newly-planted fruit trees from dying. As I’ve noted in my replies to the guests who have written, the impact of Italy’s drought and high temperatures, at Poggiosole and in the Chianti fiorentino generally, has

so far been limited to dry wells, parched and deeply fissured fields, reduced expected crop yields, and, in some cases, the loss of either already weakened or newly-planted trees. Our drinking water, sourced not from our wells but from still plentiful municipal supplies, is flowing normally. Our swimming pool is full and sparkling (and especially popular this summer compared with prior years), the outside air is free of any trace of smoke, the A/C in our lodgings, powered largely by our 40 photovoltaic panels, is working well. July guests have been happy. We've even been harvesting vegetables and abundant tomatoes from our (irrigated) garden.

Yet there is no denying the sense of alarm. The Massarosa blaze was extinguished on Friday July 22nd after burning 860 hectares of land. The same day, in my old home state of California, the Oak Fire ignited Mariposa County, home to Yosemite Valley (the heart of the eponymous national park), consuming over 7000 hectares in less than five days.

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