Snowy Mountains

Recently I received an email from down under hoping that when the sender arrived here there would still be some snow left. Actually, little snow has arrived so far this winter but things are due for a big change this Thursday when considerable falls are predicted. Some of the white stuff seems already to have arrived, anyway. Yesterday I went on another familiar circular journey which takes one up to the village of Granaiola, through Monti di Villa to the little chapel of Santa Anna and thence down to Vetteglia and back to Longoio.

Granaiola, so called because it’s been a major wheat (grano) basket for our area, was last Christmas’s living crib site. It’s also the birthplace of Nicolao Dorati, an important renaissance composer who lived from 1513 to 1593. Although renowned as a trombone player, Dorati’s output consists entirely of madrigals and no instrumental music at all.

Nicolao published six sets of madrigals: for five voices in 1549, 1561 and 1567; for five to eight voices in 1551 and for four voices in 1570 and for six voices in 1579.

In 2012, in conjunction with Bagni di Lucca’s Michel de Montaigne foundation which organises cultural events, a concert was held in Granaiola’s church where star local organist Enrico Barsanti played arrangements of Dorati’s vocal work.

There’s a plaque commemorating Dorati at the start of the main village street on his birthhouse (not open to the public and somewhat unstylisticaly rendered in cement)..

Translated, the plaque says:

Here in 1513 was born

Nicolao Dorati

Great Cultivator of the Art of Music

First Director of Lucca’s Palatine Chapel

Composer of exquisite Madrigals

His works were the first sparks 

from which a great fire would spread

His birthplace commemorates him 

in the 365th anniversary of his death


To this day I’ve not been able to hear any of Dorati’s madrigals live. Perhaps there’s a chance there for Lucca cathedral’s Capella Cecilia to have a try and, maybe issue a recording of this not –very-well-known composer.

Granaiola is always a pleasant place to walk about it and it has some very well-fed cats too:

The route towards Santa Anna chapel provides extensive panoramas of both the Apuan Mountains with its “Queen” peak, Pania Della Croce, and the Apennines with its triangular Monte Rondinaio, both amply clothed with the white stuff.

Approaching Montegegatesi a new bench has been installed which must have one of the most magnificent views of any bench in the area.:

Descending into San Cassiano, settled snuggly into the slopes of the Prato Fiorito, I stopped at one of this spread out village’s “frazioni” (literally fractions or parts) Cembroni where I was happily informed that the following oven is still in use.

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Reaching home I checked out to see that wood and food supplies were ample enough to see me through the delayed winter arrival. Certainly one of our cats seemed to think it was.

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