7. Glimpses of Sarzana

Again, thank you very much to those of you giving me such nice feedback and encouraging me to write again after two years of blockage. I did rather attack Italy in my first week’s enthusiasm and am now having a couple of days of less activity, so perhaps I can turn my mind to some more creative or reflective writing – some of which I share today.

The whirrrrr of a coasting bicycle coming from behind me, gliding down the gentle slope of via Bradia. I resist the urge to turn and see who it is, then instantly regret it as I am passed by a woman of a certain age – not young – well-dressed. I have a ¼ view of an ear and her hair, but whatever sadness comes from not observing a lovely face is assuaged completely by a soft trail of her scent, the loveliest of perfumes, that I enjoy for many paces in her wake.

Midday resting in Piazza Matteotti. The sounding of a first single bell presages a swelling as all the bells of Sarzana, both sacred and secular, join in in praise of both God and the hour.

At exactly that moment a gaggle of high school kids pass by my position and, like a flock of finches, there arrive one, then five, then thirty in a communal crescendo that, having peaked, begins its symmetrical diminuendo of teenage chatter. The last bell and the last student fall silent together. The hour has passed. Et in terra, pax.

My constant question here: Is there a historian of Sarzana?

The constant reply: There was, but he died.

Requiescat in pace, Homo storico sarzanensis, an extinct species.


Do you remember a post from Day 1 wherein I giggled at Italian bureaucracy for erecting a hydrant sign bigger than the hydrant itself? On closer inspection there is metodo in their mad-a-nezza.

Today is roughly halfway between the Spring equinox and the Summer solstice. My bet is that in six weeks’ time the sign’s raison d’être will be molto claro!

Regarding my fascination with Vezzio the Butcher, Maria Grazia confirmed what Roxana at the grocery had said, although she softened it a bit to “un po’ strano – a little bit odd”. When pressed, all she could say to back that up was that he liked to talk (did that mean “gossip”?) and that he had a very short, very fat wife .

And there was I thinking that maybe he cut up small domestic animals for his delicious sausages or that the local parents warned their children not to suck their thumbs or old Vezzio would cut them off (their thumbs, that is). Apparently neither.

But my investigation will continue.

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One response to “7. Glimpses of Sarzana

  1. kathrynsdrift

    Are your adventures channelling Helen Cochrane in Italy? What obstacles will she/Vaughan overcome next?
    Vaughan, I’ve been following your activities with interest. The walks – wow, the music – divine and the cake!
    I loved the photo comparison of the local Mayor and Ray Thompson. No captions necessary. So funny.
    Last week I took my father to a Symphony Concert at the Opera House featuring Sibelius “Finlandia” 1899; Carl Neilson “The Inextinguishable” 1916 and William Lovelock “Concerto for Trumpet” 1956. It’s his favourite thing to do. We came away feeling battered, dazed and thrilled. The conductor was a tiny woman, like an Edith Piaf with all her passion.

    I’ve recently judged a Heritage Competition for Lithgow Library and National Trust, delivered a speech and awarded the prizes. It was fun and the Mayor helped with the Ceremony. Wonder of wonders, he spoke positively about the future of Lithgow and Heritage. As you know, Ray Thompson has NEVER previously supported any movement away from coal.

    Another group of visitors are on their way to Gardens of Stone and the Pagodas headed up by Janine Kitson. She’s asked me to speak about the History/Heritage of Lithgow’s Main Street. I know nothing! So now I have some homework to do for next week.
    I visited Roxy again today. It seems you own a gifted dog. She can identify my footsteps crossing the street even though she is somewhere deep inside the house. She warns me that I may proceed but not with the sausage dog.
    I introduced myself to your neighbour Wade, yesterday. Nice, friendly man. It was gloriously warm and I called for Roxy to come outside…she came and flopped down tummy up for pats and massage. Eyes closed. I stayed with her for about 15 mins. Last week I arrived with Brightling but Roxy wasn’t pleased so I came alone.
    Next time I’ll bring a book and sit longer with her. Wade said Marianne has been around and Roxy has been happy. Put your mind at rest. She looks well fed and very well cared for. Her coat is soft and gleaming.
    Our nights are cold but the days have returned to mild and sunny which is perfect for dozing on the grass if you are a little dog.

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