The 50-year-old man and his 24-year-old girlfriend were found on Monday halfway up a mountain overlooking the town of Moggio Udinese, in north east Italy, with just their sleeping bags and a circular stone fireplace to stave off the chills of the incoming winter.
They “went into the wild” six months ago, and for the last two weeks have been living under the rock.
“I've worked here for 35 years but I've never seen anything like it,” the head forest ranger for Moggio Udinese told The Local.
“Of course, Italy's mountains are very charming and so sometimes people do decide to go 'into the wild'.”
The authorities searched the area after rumours had begun to circulate in Moggio Udinese about a “strange couple” who were living on the mountain.
A rescue team consisting of forest rangers and the local police set out to investigate on Monday morning.
“At the moment nighttime temperatures are below zero at that altitude,” added the forest ranger.
“In spite of being out there so long they were healthy and in good spirits, if a bit cold and hungry.”
Charming: The mountains above Moggio Udinese. Photo: Bernhardt Latzko/Flickr
The pair initially refused the help of the rescue team, but were eventually convinced to pack up their belongings, which included a small grill, their sleeping bags, some pans and some rags and head back to civilization.
After descending the 860 metres down to Moggio Udinese, they were given a check-up by medical workers before being offered unlimited food and refreshments, which the hungry lovers wolfed down.
After taking in some much-needed nourishment, the couple were eager to get back to nature and announced they wanted to camp out on the banks of the Fella river which runs through the town.
But after the town's mayor intervened to offer them a bed for the night in a local barracks, the couple changed their mind.
Nice but too chilly to camp: the limpid waters of the Fella River. Photo: Johann Jaritz/Wikimedia
“They weren't hermits or primitive – they were just two people who had decided upon a certain lifestyle. One which they had been living for some time,” the forest ranger said.
The couple had been living in the mountains for the last six months and had even given birth to a baby girl in an alpine hut in Portis di Venzone – 1,300 meters above sea level – on May 25th.
They entrusted their newborn child to extended family and headed back into the mountains, where they remained until Monday.
On Tuesday morning the man was reportedly convinced he could still realize his dream of building a cabin up in the mountains, where the couple could sit out the harsh alpine winter.
But in the end the couple, who were both unemployed before they decided to go and live in the mountains, relented and accepted the local civil protection unit's offer of a lift back to their hometown of Trieste.
“I'm not sure what their plans are – you can ask them if you can find them,” the ranger said.