Carol Forster column

Brown bear in Italy.
Brown bear in Italy.
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The world of animals and other creatures is a curious phenomenon in Italy and mysterious things do occur.

Take the time I visited a beach in Puglia one hot and sunny day in late spring some years ago.

To my astonishment and horror, it was completely covered in yellow snakes with a black diamond pattern.

Yes, suspiciously like the European viper, and probably Vinnie the Viper himself and his comrades having a mass sunbathing session.

I reacted like a proper girl, ‘Let’s get out of here quick!’ to a very nonchalant response from my Italian friends who said the equivalent of, ‘Don’t be daft lass’, though in more dulcet tones.

When I asked what type of snake they were, no one seemed to know or care, but as they were motionless, we literally climbed over them.

To this day, I do not have a clue what was going on.

More recently I heard a funny story about an Italian guy walking in the hills, who encountered a brown bear.

Apparently the bear just sauntered by as if they were shopping in Booths or something.

At least they didn’t get caught in a pedestrian bottle-neck, like Lancaster town centre, and had plenty of space.

I also recall thinking I heard a rumbling Vespa approaching once, whilst sitting in a quiet area of countryside.

To my consternation, it was a big, black hairy Calabrone (those massive black bee-like creatures that hover about while you attempt to sunbathe).

Well I shot out of that seat and down the hill, probably with Clarence the Calabrone in slow pursuit.

I’m not sure he was particularly fussed, but I know I was.

It’s always amused me how pet dogs understand commands in other languages.

The Italian pet, will respond to ‘Vieni qua!’ and ’Smettilo!’

Perhaps such educated creatures should be enrolling in Italian language classes.

I wonder if Brutus the Pugliese pooch would understand those immortal words, ‘ ‘urry up will yerr!’ if he came up north to Lancaster!

Probably not, but worth a try.