Category Archives: Gift and Grace

Belonging in Anghiari: Franco Talozzi

In 2017, I began conducting interviews with people who live in Anghiari. Some were conducted in Italian, some in English, and they were all published in both languages on this blog. While in Anghiari earlier this year I continued this project. These interviews will also be published in both languages.

Il senso di appartenenza ad Anghiari: Franco Talozzi

 L’anno scorso ho intervistato la figlia di Franco, Cinzia e la nipote, Armida, che insieme conducono il ristorante “Talozzi” ad Anghiari. Quest’anno ho avuto la fortuna e l’opportunità di intervistare Franco, di cui tutti parlano sempre benissimo e che, quando sindaco di Anghiari negli anni Ottanta, ha dato un enorme contributo allo sviluppo della città, specialmente sotto il punto di vista culturale. L’ho intervistato in una gelida giornata di marzo, a casa sua, nella parte medievale del paese. È venuta con me anche Mirella, che trascrive e traduce queste interviste, e là abbiamo trovato la moglie, Anna, e Cinzia, tutti riuniti in una stanza accogliente, dalle pareti foderate di libri con una splendida vista sulla valle Tiberina. Cinzia aveva anche preparato una deliziosa mantovana, una tipica torta toscana che ci è stata poi servita con il vin santo. L’intervista, condotta in italiano, è poi stata trascritta e tradotta in inglese da Mirella Alessio e questa ne è una versione editata.IMG-20180326-WA0000-1

 Bene! Beh, io sono nato a Chiusi, in provincia di Siena, il 23 novembre del 1937, perciò ho compiuto ottant’anni da poco. Sono nato in una famiglia contadina. Il mio babbo ha fatto il guardiacaccia in una grande riserva di un grande proprietario, in una delle dodici fattorie granducali del duca Leopoldo, il grande Leopoldo, che aveva, da Arezzo fin nella città di Chiusi, fatto la bonifica, erano tutte paludi. Aveva costituito dodici fattorie, questa fattoria dove sono nato io si chiama Dolciano, aveva 24 famiglie di contadini. Ero l’unico maschio, avevo quattro sorelle.

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Belonging in Anghiari: Mark Curfoot-Mollington

In 2017, I began conducting interviews with people who live in Anghiari. Some were conducted in Italian, some in English, and they were all published in both languages on this blog. While in Anghiari earlier this year I continued this project. These interviews will also be published in both languages. Here is the first of them.

Belonging in Anghiari: Mark Curfoot-Mollington

 Mark/Marco is a 70 year old Canadian who holds Italian residency. While Mark regards Anghiari as his principle home now, he regularly returns to Ottawa, and he spends a few months every year in Cambodia doing voluntary work. Since retiring, he has also had a couple of novels published. In Canada, Mark is an active member of the Church of England; in Anghiari, he has found the Roman Catholic church very welcoming. I interviewed Mark in the apartment, located in the mediaeval part of town, that he and his partner, Ron Price, bought in 2001. Ron died there ten years ago. The interview was conducted in English, and Mirella Alessio transcribed it and translated this edited version into Italian.Mark c-m 2


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Anghiari flowers


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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Chiesa della Propositura


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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Easter in Turin

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.20180331_112138-1_resized

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

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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Working with a Transcript

Colleagues of mine recently asked me to ‘teach’ them how to write first-person narratives using interview transcripts. What method did I use? What were the steps I followed? How long should they be? Did I edit out stutters and conversational fillers? Did I correct grammar?

They knew I had written first-person narratives before and knew that I advocated it as a honest and accessible form of sociological writing.  That is true, so I was happy to comply. However, what happened next surprised me. I found it incredibly difficult to describe how I edited a transcript or why I made the editorial decisions I did. Instead of a series of techniques to be learnt,  I found myself coming back to the form of relation I was in when undertaking the editing. What follows is one of  many attempts to describe how and why I work with interview transcripts. Continue reading Working with a Transcript

Welcome back to Anghiari


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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Hold Nothing in Reserve


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