Category Archives: Belonging

La Verna in spring

 

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As my stay in Anghiari draws to a close, it feels as if I have been watching spring arrive in slow motion. Shutters and windows are opening, and every day the landscape changes: the greens get greener, and the light brighter; there are ever more birds and flowers and colours. And, now, leaves are appearing on trees. The forests of beech and ash around La Verna were shimmering with new leaves when we visited there yesterday.

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Toppole in spring

 

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Yesterday, it was only by chance that we went to Toppole, a small mediaeval hamlet in the hills above Anghiari. A friend who had been visiting family in Padova was here for just a few days, and, as she has never been to Anghiari before, I’d given some thought to the choice of a nearby walk to do. In a distracted state, however, I drove to Toppole instead of the place I’d planned on. In response to my ‘oh, wrong place’ as we turned the last bend, Marisa said ‘don’t worry, maybe it’ll be the right place.’

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Anghiari flowers

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We returned from a walk in the hills yesterday with bunches of little flowers picked from bedside the path. Every day more flowers are coming out, and, a few days ago, as I walked along the ridge from Anghiari to Il Carmine, I noticed that bright white patches had appeared amongst the brown of oaks and chestnuts in the distant hills. Blossom, I realized! But perhaps even more noticeable is the appearance of flowers throughout the town.

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Tranquillo

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Whilst here, in Anghiari, I have been reading a lovely book called A Philosophy of Walking (by Frédéric Gros). Here are a couple of passages on the experience of time when walking:

Walking is the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found. To walk, you need to start with two legs. The rest is optional. If you want to go faster, then don’t walk, do something else: drive, slide or fly. Don’t walk. And when you are walking, there is only one sort of performance that counts: the brilliance of the sky, the splendour of the landscape. Walking is not a sport. (2014: 2)

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Chiesa della Propositura

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This is a piece I’ve been meaning to write for a while. Each blog that I have done on arriving in Anghiari over the last couple of years has a reference to bells ringing. I find them such a welcoming sound. And they always seem to be ringing just as I arrive! If you happen to be in the main piazza when they are ringing, they seem to come from a particular direction, you feel certain about it, but, in fact, they are coming from the opposite direction, up the hill behind the piazza, from Chiesa della Propositura, an 18th church, with a lovely Della Robbia behind the alter.

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Weather, meetings, walking

20180318_022512-1It has turned bitterly cold, with light snow yesterday here in Anghiari, and snow on the mountains across the Tiber valley (Anghiari is located in the foothills of the Apennines, on a ridge between the Sovara and Tiber valleys). While I have been here before when it has snowed, there is something distinctive about the light in the landscape this time. It’s the spring light, I realize, that is giving a particular brightness to what would normally be a wintery view. If you look again at this photo which was at the beginning of my last blog and imagine snow on the mountains, you might get some idea of this view.

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Welcome back to Anghiari

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Yesterday I arrived in Anghiari, and I found, once again, that there is something about this experience of arrival that makes me want to record it. I’m aware that I will say what I have said on other occasions, but each time is new, each time I reexperience the joys of everyday life in this place. In fact, one of the things that I rediscover is that things don’t change here in the way that they do in Sydney, where I usually live. Here there is a sense of continuity in everyday rituals, over years, generations; the buildings remain over centuries; the same people are in the same shops. But, of course, there is also change, and the most obvious, for me on arrival this time, has been the change in season.

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Thank you

I didn’t know what I was going to say to you today. Only on the train, on the way in here, did it become clear. I realised that I’d been given the very thing that had to be said.

Absent-mindedly driving to work yesterday, I stopped at traffic lights. Waiting to cross the road were a mother with a toddler in a stroller. The child was turning around to engage the mother and something about the intensity of their moment shook me from my half-life. I saw them: I saw how alive they were. For them, everything in the world was unfolding from this moment together, whereas for me it was only the empty time between leaving home and arriving at work. At the corner of Darley and King Streets, Newtown, at 11.10am on Thursday 2/11/17, two worlds touched, one a half-world of befores and laters and the other a vital moment of here and now.

What came to mind, unsought, was Pieter Bruegels’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, and Auden’s poem about it, Musée des Beaux-Arts. These two have been constant reference points in my adult life. When I got my first academic job, at Macquarie University in 1984, the first and almost only decoration in my office was a print of the painting, with Auden’s poem glued to its back. Somewhat pompously, perhaps, it was to remind me of the role of sociologists: to witness the suffering that would otherwise go unnoticed. In 1989, the picture came with me to my office at UNSW, and it stayed for decades, until the foxing became too embarrassing.

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Belonging in Anghiari: Simona Boldrini and Matteo Boncompagni

While I was staying in Anghiari at Christmas time, 2016-17, I began conducting interviews with people who live in the town. Some were conducted in Italian, some in English. They will all be published in both languages. In this blog I’m posting  interviews with Simona Boldrini and her son, Matteo Boncompagni. 20170109_170644_resized

Il senso di appartenenza ad Anghiari: Simona Boldrini

La famiglia di Simona ha il negozio, “Tutto di Boldrini” situato in un palazzo rinascimentale sulla via principale che dalla collina di Anghiari scende giù, attraversando tutta la valle tiberina, fino a Sansepolcro. “Tutto” è uno di quei negozietti dove, in Italia, si può veramente trovare di tutto ed è anche un vivace punto d‘incontro. Adesso che la mamma è, si fa per dire, “in pensione”, lo gestisce Simona. L’ho intervistata insieme al figlio Matteo nell’appartamento dove sto io, che è vicinissimo al negozio. L’intervista, condotta in italiano, è stata trascritta e tradotta in inglese da Mirella Alessio e questa ne è una versione editata.

 

Sono nata nel 1976 qui ad Anghiari e sono stata una tra le ultime nate che poi dopo hanno chiuso l’ospedale qui ad Anghiari. E la mia mamma ha sempre abitato ad Anghiari, il mio babbo uguale. Poi sono cresciuta a Carmine, al santuario del Carmine, dove sei venuta alla messa di Natale… la famiglia vive proprio lì, dietro al santuario.

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