We take the road above Spoleto to the Franciscan convent atop Monteluco. This grove of ilex trees has been held sacred by every culture here since the Etruscans.
These trees are thought to be the oldest holm oaks in Europe.
There is a charming little nineteenth-century hotel nearby where as the only guests, we are given a room on the top floor with a view over the forested mountains around us.
In late afternoon we walk down among the ilex trees by the convent wall. I stop to record the calling of thrushes. After a moment, the friars just over the wall begin to sing their evening prayers, joining their song to the birds.