Spend enough time in Italy, especially in the countryside where we live, and you will hear the locals swapping stories about the cinghiale. What are these animals? Wild boar. And yes, they are delicious and make a wonderful ragu over papparadelle! They are the main target during hunting season in the woods around Miedi. But they can also be a big nuisance and destructive around your garden and yard. While they are mostly shy animals and any loud noise tends to send them running, they can be dangerous if they feel cornered or threatened.
So when these uninvited guests came calling last summer, we found out just how destructive they can be! During the summer we see them and their little babies running around the woods and across the road fairly regularly. Over the years, the hunting clubs in our area have decreased and so the cinghiale population has grown, leaps and bounds! The italian government thought that to help with this, they would introduce wolves in our area. I have yet to see one wolf, and still see A LOT of cinghiale. They are a common sighting in our area, and we stop when they cross the road in front of our car and rush to hit the record button on our phones to grab a video or snap a photo and marvel at how adorable the babies are and how agile those big parents are at climbing up the steep banks.
All of these skills help them get into spaces when they smell something delicious. Most of our local neighbors don’t have fences around their properties and use a 4 legged security system along with a hunting shotgun which is most effective at keeping home and hearth safe from the roaming cinghiale. You can occasionally hear the barking in the distance at night echoing across the valley as they scare off a large family of wild boar. Others, like us, employ the fence around the entire property method! However, our fence was old and tired and leaning in some areas. Also, we had about 8 wild plum trees right along the fence line. Notice I said “had”. Those plum trees were like ringing a dinner bell every night and welcoming the local cinghiale to Trattoria Miedi to belly up to an all you can eat buffet of plums! Hundreds would fall and cover the ground just inside the fence as we just couldn’t harvest them all.
In the wee hours one night, I woke up noticing that Tony wasn’t in bed. I looked around the dark room and could see his shadow leaning out the bedroom window. I started to ask him what was wrong, and before I could finish my sentence, I was met with a very loud SSSHHHHHH! He whispered “something is out there!” I reminded him that living in the woods, there is always “something out there”. He said, No! In our yard “out there” and it’s BIG! So of course now I join him in leaning out the bedroom window thinking that we will actually see anything in the pitch black abyss that is night time where we live. Of course we can’t see a single thing, but we could hear the symphony of very loud snorting and crunching. We instantly said, “cinghiale!” Of course the second thought was, how the hell did they get in?! A quick mental recap of closing and latching the gate confirmed that we did in fact remember that nightly routine. With no idea of how they got in, we just knew we had to get them OUT before one of them fell into the pool and we ended up with an even bigger mess on our hands. There is a story that we have heard from the locals, that this did in fact happen to someone who was on holiday and returned to find the beast floating in his pool two weeks later. We did not want to become the next story being told at the bar in town.
Tony clapped his cupped hands as loud as he could. This was followed by what seemed like a thundering herd of little hooves racing off to the back corner of our property. With our adrenaline a bit raised, it was hard to get back to sleep. Not to mention we were sure that the smell of ripe sweet plums would be stronger than the noise of clapping hands and the extended family would be back for another meal shortly. The next morning we went out to inspect the damage, and boy was there damage. They tore tracks in the lawn with their rooting snouts... everywhere.
We began to walk the fence line to find out where they got in. When we found it, we were shocked at how small the opening was that they had dug and pushed up to get under it. I am sure that the daddy and some of those larger mommy cinghiale had to navigate a running start and a ninja roll just to get under it. So, we patched up the opening and piled some heavy stones around it. Problem solved!
Until the next night anway, when the family returned for the buffet and brought the inlaws with them. They decided to dig and push under another 6 or 8 areas of the fence and that nothing we did was going to stop them from their nightly meal. That morning, we worked and worked to repair the fence and block with yet more stones. We went inside to rest with a coffee and I picked up my phone and texted our dear friend Elsa about our nightly uninvited guests. She laughed and said, “Si! Susine” (Yes, the plums!). I said to her, I think the plum trees need to go. She said this was “una buona soluzione” (a good solution!) The next call was to Domenico, the lovely man that takes care of our yard and plantings when we aren’t at Miedi. We asked (or maybe begged) that the wild plum trees be removed ASAP. By 7p.m. our knight in shining armor arrived with his chainsaw. Tony and I were helping and dragging the plum laden branches across to the woods. Tonight the cinghiale would enjoy a meal they didn’t have to work for!
We had barely finished dinner the following night outside on the patio, when the cinghiale came rather loudly from the woods behind the house and up along the fenceline straight for the open buffet left for them. It was clear to us that the time had come to replace the old fence with a new, strong and, most importantly, cinghiale proof one in its place. This was quickly added to the renovation list for the winter. While we were back in the US enjoying the holidays with our family and friends, we received a photo one day from our dear friend Elsa of her husband Giovanni with his success during hunting season around our Miedi.
We now have a beautiful new and very strong fence that Domenico built and installed for us complete with the iron mesh attached that is dug underground to keep those uninvited guests from entering and keep us from being another story told at the local bar.