How could I resist the opportunity to accompany a friend into the foothills of the Apennines in rural Le Marche to help rescue the last remaining dogs from a village where the kennel rescue is being closed.
Coffee and cornetto in the Tiberside town of Umbertide, market day, local vegetables and scrumptious cheeses (shame it is diet January) bumping into with people I had not seen for some time, a chance to catch up with gossip and news. Two friends seem to have, in the past few months, like me become single, others about to go off travelling, the grey damp January days make travelling so tempting. When the ‘rescuers’ arrived we set off in convoy. The town of Apecchio is in the province of Pesaro in the region of Le Marche on the road between Citta di Castello and Urbino. The scenery opens up and becomes more majestic, a winding road, on an ancient route connecting two important towns, dotted every few kilometres with large square houses clearly abandoned posting inns. The hills scarred by large rock escarpments, grey oblong blocks looking much like a vertical paved road. Onwards and upwards the scenic route twisting ever eastwards until we reach Apecchio.
The town employment is timber production and dreamy truffles found in the surrounding woodland, and of course there is a small dingy industrial estate, the kind found in every small town throughout Europe. enterprise not enterprising, damp, dank, depressed and mostly closed up. At the far end the Canile, at one time host to thirty dogs, yesterday only three last residents.
We met with a vet, Chiara the most positive solare and kind person. Although living near Umbertide she made the journey to Apecchio on a daily basis to feed and walk the residents, a drive of almost 100km! We were here to allow Chiara to finally close the rescue by taking the last three dogs to new homes. Fortunately we were accompanied by an American couple looking for a dog companion, and a seven year old English Setter just fitted the bill. ‘Vic’ had been at the rescue some five years, a hunting dog, championship winner he had been stolen some time ago near Naples and by some torturous route ended up in the remote refuge. He is a big boisterous dog, like all setters, bouncy and so so affectionate, somewhat smelly, indeed in need of a huge bath, but soon in the car and off to his new home.
We were left with two sad timid Segugio dogs. Chiara told us that they had been in the refuge when she started helping there in 2009. One badly scarred by an attack by a pit bull (why do people brred them, I really do not understand) and consequently very nervous and timid, the other clinging to her side, a timid shadow. Slowly and timidly they came forward and after not a lot of soul searching were being readied for their first road trip to their new home.
Although awfully smelly, they settled into the car with ease and together with the vets we headed off to celebrate the closure of the refuge at a local restaurant.
What a find! A roadside stone building, small car park and on entering a warm, beautiful restaurant, the host welcoming and food excellent. Agriturismo Pian di Molino was a great discovery, a happy place to celebrate rescuing three dogs, lunch hosted by the bubbly Chiara.
Checking on Google maps I discover that although it took me over two hours to get there, I came by the Tiber valley because of meeting new dog owners, Apecchio is actually quite close to Gubbio, the town closest to Bellaugello Gay Guest House. There is a really beautiful scenic road that heads up to the village of Pietralunga and then connects to Apecchio, so as well as a successful day I have discovered a great restaurant in a big truffle area mid route on what is a lovely scenic circular drive from Bellaugello.