Wood harvest at Carpineta Ranch

Carpineta Ranch is a family-owned country residence of the Campetti family set in the valley of Aquilea, just over the brow of the hill from the small village of Aquilea itself, a few kilometres (25 mins by car) north of Lucca. I met Federico Campetti, my friend Mattia’s father, recently when I visited an exhibition of his artwork where he teases out mythical creatures by painting interesting stumps and logs of wood. Dating back to the 17th century, the farmhouse is typical of the type found in the Lucchese hills and is near the track of the Via Francigena, an ancient route for pilgrims through Lucca that links Rome to Canterbury.

The reason for my visit was to help with the wood cutting, something I had not done on such a scale before. Fortunately, Alfredo the woodcutter (nicknamed Geppeto) had brought along his tractor that was linked up to a frighteningly dangerous mechanical band-saw and wood-splitter. Seven of us tackled the large pile of logs, including Signora Simonetta Campetti who arrived with a spuntino or snack mid-morning consisting of water, strong coffee, focaccia, cheese, salami and red wine.

The wood was from the trees of the surrounding forest forming part of the estate that had be felled the previous year and allowed to dry kept under tarpaulins near the barns and stables. The property, bought years ago by Federico’s father, has several stables but nowadays only one horse is kept for sentimental reasons. With Alfredo on the band-saw we lifted the logs which were cut into lengths of about 30-40cms and spilt where necessary. These were then stacked in the barns and some were taken by tractor to the farmhouse.

The farmhouse is not linked to a gas supply so the only method for heating hot water and central-heating during the winter is by burning wood, so a good supply needs to be maintained all year round. Naturally, work stopped around one o’clock and we were joined by friends Michele and Laura for a very pleasant Tuscan lunch of rigatoni pasta, chicken and beef, salad and cheese and of course home-made wine.