Luigi is an old peddler. The skin cooked by the cold, a woolen hat on his head and a casual pose. Leaning against his van he observes, almost as if it were an obvious thing, with a perhaps somewhat resigned air, a huge male deer, which, not at all intimidated, is eating from the fruit crates where Luigi keeps the goods on display. A surreal picture, a stolen shot that went viral on social media.
We are in Villetta Barrea, a village in the heart of the Abruzzo national park, in the province of L’Aquila, where – more and more often – it happens to see some deer walking through the streets of the town. The 650 inhabitants are used to seeing them emerge from a garden or a parking lot, and respect is absolute, no one dreams of chasing them away or disturbing them. We live together, it’s normal.
“Here they do ten months of frid and two of frisc”, smiles Pierluigi Viola, restaurateur and author of the photo. That is: ten months of cold and two of cool. In short, it is almost never hot in these parts. And certainly winter is not soft. Temperatures almost always drop below freezing and the animals are hungry. And sometimes it happens that they go to look for food in the gardens.
This time, however, this great deer with majestic horns (they are actually called “antlers”, the local experts point out), went further: and “stole” apples and pears under the eyes of the counter owner.
However, the viral scene, published on Facebook under the title “The law of nature”, was not appreciated by everyone. Andrea Scarnecchia, mayor of Barrea, a neighboring town, replied: “The law of indecency”, thus underlining the fact that the seller would not comply in this way with health and hygiene regulations.
However, there are hundreds of positive comments. As there are hundreds of deer that inhabit the woods of Abruzzo, and in some towns, such as Villetta Barrea and Civitella Alfedena, they have become commonplace. But – the Park recommends – you shouldn’t get too close or give them food. Above all, we must resist the temptation to touch or help a single puppy, believing that it has been abandoned, because in reality the mother will return to him. If, on the other hand, it smells different, it may leave it.
Even bears occasionally – in spring and summer – venture into these villages overlooking the green lake of Barrea, in the shadow of Mount Greco and Marsicano. In the whole park there are about fifty specimens. And if one of them were to approach the fruit stand, perhaps Luigi would be less relaxed. Or maybe not.