Foot paths lead out of the village in every direction. Many of them head up, up, up. Paint marks, small striped flags, dot the stone walls and outcroppings. Homes give way to empty buildings. Stone shells. Shells give way to ruins. Footprints all but forgotten.
Step through the ruins. The path narrows, from a patchwork of pavement, to a bare track, scree loose underfoot. In no time, you are surrounded by silence. The village floats beneath you, the river a lazy green ribbon. Pass the mazets, with crumbling roofs. In amongst the ashes, shards of pottery. Rusty metal. The ever present snail shells. Limestone.
With every step, the dusty rattle of the laurel. Thyme underfoot. Wild iris. Delicate shoots on the olive trees, grey green and mottled. Occasionally a fig tree, with a last sweet offering. Survival.
You are never alone. This route has been traveled for hundreds of years. Thousands of years. What if you did not turn back, but kept walking, step by step. Step by step.