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.
Continue reading La Verna in spring
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.’
Continue reading Toppole in spring
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)
Continue reading Tranquillo
If church is big here on Sunday, so too is lunch with friends and family, at home, but, often also, out. Yesterday, which was a glorious sunny spring day, we went to Sunday lunch at Mafuccio agriristorante.
Continue reading Sunday lunch
I have returned home to Anghiari from a trip to Turin over Easter (la pasqua). I have never been there before, but Mirella, who is working with me on Anghiari interviews, lives there, and invited me to visit.
Turin is an elegant city of Baroque architecture, porticos, arcades, ‘terrazzo’ pavements and floors, bookshops, stylish cafés with waiters who treat their work as a profession, bustling markets with stall after stall of fresh local vegetables and cheeses. And yes, restaurants with great local food and wine (chilometro zero)! I am a tourist here, and there is a lot to see. But, what I find most interesting is the encounters I have, in the street, at the bakery, at the markets, on the tram, in bars, restaurants, at concerts …. Every time I venture out. Continue reading Easter in Turin
It 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.
Continue reading Weather, meetings, walking
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.
Continue reading Welcome back to Anghiari
They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
A few years ago I read the Gospel of Mark with some friends. We moved slowly and carefully through the text, often spending a whole evening on just a few lines. One passage that struck me was the ‘feeding of the 5000’. In that story Mark describes the miracle of the fishes and loaves in which Jesus turns a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish into food for 5,000. At the end of the story Mark says, ‘They ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up the twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over’.
Those twelve basketfuls of leftover bread troubled me. I recall badgering my fellow readers about it. Why the excess? God knows the hairs numbered on your head, why not stop with food sufficient to feed the 5,000? Why create more than was needed? What would happen to those extra pieces of bread? Would they be eaten the next day or would they go to waste? What could this excess mean? Was it a symbol of luxury, a Gallilean potlatch?
My naive questions, generously accommodated by my friends, bellied a genuine concern about wasteful excess. But what I didn’t realise then was that the feeding of the multitudes isn’t a story about consumption. It is a story about what is given. It is a story about the abundance of a love sufficient to cover us all, a love that isn’t limited by number, a love available to any who might come.
‘Here, my brother, my sister, come and sit with us. We have food enough for you’. Continue reading Hold Nothing in Reserve
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.
(Wikipedia) Continue reading Thank you
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.
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.
Continue reading Belonging in Anghiari: Simona Boldrini and Matteo Boncompagni