The hunters that come into our valley keep telling us they're shooting cinghiale.
But even though we've been here for nine months, we've never actually seen or heard or even noticed any evidence of these cinghiales. Apparently these wild boar maraud at night and cause all sorts of damage to rural land by digging inconvenient holes all over paddocks and lawns and even under fences.
Either they don't exist in our valley or else they've all been shot...
Instead, we focus on the Lucciole (Fireflies).
Our bedroom has a window that looks out at the vertical tufa drop that reaches down from one of our grape paddocks to the rear of the house.
Every night when we're lying in bed we gaze out our window at the Lucciole who fly around this drop.
These beautiful little creatures keep us entertained for a few wonderful minutes before we gently fall off the edge of consciousness and into sleep oblivion. There are hundreds of them, all shining their little luminous bottoms in the perfect warmth and dampness of the drop.
While I'm not sure exactly how a luminous male bottom attracts a female, I do appreciate the light show they provide. They loop and frolick around the drop, all the while turning their lights off and on. It's like watching the stars on a night when the sky is speckled by tiny clouds that sometimes expose the stars and sometimes hide them.
Our sleep is usually long, our bones and sinews heavy and over-extended, merging into the sheets.
But in the wee small hours of last night, our sleep was broken by a rather unfortunate and somewhat aggressive sound.
It was a loud rough grunt that was repeated every few seconds. One grunt was very close to our window; the other some distance away. The noises sounded like a very large dog with a seriously sore throat or a cow with a seriously bad case of worms.
I knew instantly that it was a cinghiale. It was just so strange, abrupt, earthy and, well, pig like!
Stu dived out of bed, grabbed the torch and went outside.
I maintained my half-conscious state, occasionally imagining a boar of massive proportions much like the one in an Australian horror movie I'd watched in my youth. In 'Razorback', a monster of a boar would charge at humans and trample them to a bloody mulch in the remote lonely outback.
I rustled myself into greater consciousness to listen for the desperate cries of Stu.
When I heard him creeping around the back of the house near our window, I opened my eyes to see the torch light looping and frolicking about the tufa and the foliage on the drop.
I wondered what the Lucciole were making of the giant illuminated 'bottom' that had entered their space.
Meanwhile, the grunts had stopped. Clearly, Stu's presence had scared the cinghiales away.
Before he returned inside, he stood at the window, shone the torchlight on his face and made ghost noises at me. I can't remember my response but I suggest that I didn't play the game.
We now firmly believe that cinghiales exist in our valley and they certainly haven't all been shot!