1,500 saplings, 30 centimetres high.
Astons, as the one- or two-year-old grafted seedlings from the nursery are called, ready for planting. No one could have imagined that during the summer, after a particularly dry spring, Europe would be hit by a massive heatwave, which peaked during the first fortnight of August. An exceptional phenomenon, in terms of duration and intensity, made particularly unbearable by the high level of humidity in the air; in fact, numerous temperature records were broken in several European cities.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer of 2003 remains one of the hottest on record, especially in Europe, if we take the period from 1880 to the present.
On our continent, that summer was undoubtedly the hottest in centuries, especially in August when the heat was fiercest and temperatures averaged four to five degrees above normal.
In France, around 15,000 people died, but there were also numerous victims in Spain, Italy and Germany, and it is estimated that over 50,000 people died prematurely in the continent as a result of the unbearable heat.
In the absence of a drip system, it was necessary to set up a system of rubber canes, rolled out all over the hill. She was then living permanently in Palmo di Terra. I did not. We were forced to spend the whole month of August, the month of our holidays together, from six o’clock in the morning until sunset, watering, watering, watering, trying to save what we could. At the end of the season, with the first rains, the balance was one thousand plants saved and about four hundred that had not made it. All in all, it hadn’t gone so badly, despite everything. The test we were forced to pass seemed to be a sort of examination that nature had wanted us to undergo, to ascertain how deep-rooted, it has to be said, our determination to live there, in the country, renouncing the comforts, vices and habits of the city. Gloria made a comment that still moves me. She said: “I don’t know what I will be able to do in life, but I like to think that I have changed the sign of a piece of landscape, creating a wood, where someone will one day come to sit at the foot of a tree, to enjoy the shade”.