special thanks to Prof. Dan Leo for his editing efforts
the valley of o---------- had long been reputed to be the most peaceful in italy. for centuries its lack of natural wealth and its remoteness kept it from being fought over by princes, and its temperate climate - hardly subject to storms or severe winters - made it a favorite retreat of those same princes and their wealthy supporters, when they sought brief respite from the turmoils and dangers of power. indeed, the valley became in effect a neutral area where arms were laid down, quarrels set aside, and the fiercest enemies - even those embroiled in blood feuds of millennial duration - could side by side enjoy what the poet calls "the beautiful wine of peace."
the only dwellings in the valley, besides the castle and surrounding buildings belonging to the ancient duchy of o----------, were the country retreats of the aforementioned potentates, and the humble huts, scattered about the countryside, of the few shepherds and herdsmen who survived on the barren hills and plains. these herders plied their ancient craft almost year round, and for centuries it had been the chief delight, of the owners of the country estates, when taking their ease in the valley, to observe from their verandahs and balconies the wanderings and frolickings of these unencumbered ones, and to compose poems and songs based on their observations.
this account, i am sure, brings a smile to the lips of the reader, accustomed as he or she may be to the frenzy of the modern world.
in any case, everything changed with the coming of the corsican.