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This beautiful heron, or others of his kin, live somewhere near the Torrente San Francesco, which flows down our mountain to Rapallo.  He is frequently to be seen fishing in various spots along the Torrente, but has always especially favored this small dam, under which the little fish like to congregate in a sort of heron buffet.  I’m glad I took the above photo, because the very next day this is what I found when I came down the hill:

What a mess!  And gone is the little dam where the heron fished.

On a related topic, there is some talk of widening Via Bette, the narrow street that runs along the Torrente.  Closer to town than the section pictured above, the street is lined with shops on the non-river side. Frequently vehicles stop on the river side of the road (‘for just a moment!’) so people can do a bit of quick shopping; it can be a matter of some ingenuity to get two cars going in opposite directions past one another.  And when the bus comes: che casino!


(Note that there are pedestrians on the river side, walking in the street – it’s so much nicer to walk near the water, and people often do, not only putting themselves at risk, but further constricting the available space for cars.) What is distressing about the road-widening project is that it calls for covering over the Torrente.  That will eliminate not only more fishing for the heron (who, in fact, usually doesn’t fish near the shops) but also paddling and family-raising space for the many ducks who live there.

There are also proposals for two new tunnels – one from the Autostrada to Santa Margherita Ligure, and one from Via Bette to the Val Fontanabuona, the valley on the other side of our mountain.  I hope that the road-widening project, like the tunnel projects, will remain in the talking stage for many years.  It will be some consolation to the poor heron, who has lost his seat at the all-you-can-eat special.

All is not lost for the heron though.  The destruction in the top photo is the beginning stage of a new bridge across the Torrente to serve the houses on the hill above.  Fish like to congregate under bridges; maybe the heron’s smorgasbord will return.  I hope so.

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