I train, if you can call my jogs training, in the Rockies of Colorado. Much of my running is on the dusty mountain roads of the backcountry, and it is not unusual to come across deer, coyotes and occasionally even a bear or two. But mostly it is all pretty benign.
So I was pretty much unprepared for the wild animal show I got this week during a run in Maremma on the Tuscan Coast.
I was staying in a town called Riotorto and decided to head to the highest point I could find so that I could get a view of the Mediterranean Sea about 3 miles away. As I ran through the streets up to the top of town, it was over 90 degrees, but a wind was blowing from the sea and cooling it a bit. When I got to the top the view was magnificent, as the Island of Elba loomed just off the coast. I stopped to admire the scene and spied a fire road that went even higher, so I headed out once again.
Not more than 100 yards up, I heard a commotion and, just to my left, there was a passel of eight enormous, I mean HUGE, pigs, or wild boar, and a bunch of babies. They were, thankfully, scurrying away from me, so I stopped and stood as still as possible as they ran away.
I was reminded of an encounter my friend Cathy Jahnke had a few years back in Phoenix, when she came across a large wild pig. Had it not been for the prompt action of her dog, Jagger, it is not inconceivable that she could have been seriously injured. Unfortunately, I was without Jagger.
Of course, all is well that ends well, and I was able to retrace my steps back to Riotorto and proceed to my hotel.
And then that evening in Suvereto, at the superb l’Ciocio restaurant, I had the last laugh. I ordered Cinta Senese, or, Tuscan pig, served in seven ways.