Little towns dot the top of small hills, each with a bell tower of a church poking up from it. The houses slowly dissipate as you get farther from the city center, leaving trails from all sides, with a mix of fields and forests surrounding each. They appear like termite mounds, unnatural constructions, breaking the view, yet somehow, fitting - enhancing the landscape and completing an ecosystem with their thousand-year-old mish-mash of ruddy brown clay and stone houses. In the base of valleys, modern towns are built to resemble the old style but in red brick. Each one seems stagnate, with only a single gas station, and very few visible stores. Often times there is a single cafe/bar combo near the entrance. Large industrial buildings are on the outskirts of these towns producing red clay products, fence posts for the farmers, or other products for local use. The new maintains the old, while the old gives the new reason to live, a sort of mutual agreement between vastly different creatures. Old castles sit prominently on strategic locations, usually with at least two subject towns in sight. Some are hollow and forgotten, joining the few Roman and Etruscan ruins that seem to only be on the most inaccessible hills – saving them from the thousand year-long plundering. Others are active, lived in and passed down since the 12th century.
As you travel south, the hills get larger and the soil gets sandier and rockier, and a distinct sea breeze is smelt. The entire region has a profound amount of dust and dryness. It rained an unnatural amount while we were here, and this year has made for a bad grape growing season because of it. Yet I still never felt a sense of water in the air. The lushness seems against nature here. Every hill presents a different ecosystem and despite constant subtle changes, you feel like this place continues forever, almost as a purgatory with no exit, ending up where you started, yet you cannot be mad because of the beauty. If you wake up as the sun rises, you can catch the morning fog, or maybe evaporating dew, covering the hills, muting the colors of the land into grays with the hint of green underneath. As the sun rises, so do the fogs, dancing around the hilltops, and revealing only glimpses of fertile valleys underneath.