When I gave up my UK life and moved to Italy with this harebrained scheme to become a travel writer, I imagined many scenarios mainly involving red wine, sunshine and the attentions of Mediterranean lothario. Never had I imagined traipsing through a wood in the dark, narrowly avoiding sliding down mud banks and been bitten alive by mosquitoes. This kind of living is for those who venture into more far flung destinations than Rome.
Yet last night following a free guided walk organised by the WWF, this is what I found myself doing just a stones throw from the traffic and palazzo heavy Via di Cristoforo Colombo, between the centre and EUR. La Tenuta di Tor Marancia, part of the Parco Regionale Dell'Appia Antica, is home to many species of birds and woodland animals (and quite a few wild dogs) was saved by conservationists and is now a designated protected area and also breeding ground for fire flies. It was enchanting to see first one, then a few, then hundreds of small bright lights buzzing around our faces, hands, and feet, a magical world that I had never had the opportunity to experience before.
The sounds of the wood, the clarity of the sky and its show of stars, and the intensity of the fire flies' light against the black backdrop, led us to emerge back into the road struggling to adjust to the harsh electric streetlamps when we rejoined the street just several metres away. A wonderful experience and antidote to city centre living for a couple of hours.
More information on Appia Antica - visit http://www.parcoappiaantica.org/