Gombereto’s Saddened Virgin

The last day of Gombereto’s Festa Della Madonna Addolorata was accompanied by wistful late summer afternoon sunshine. Everything went to plan and, after Don Franco celebrated Mass in the chapel at the top of the village which was enhanced by a choir accompanied by Cipriano Nesti on the keyboard, the procession began to weave its way around the village bounds.

I especially enjoy the way the Madonna appears as she is carried through woodland on this occasion:

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Returning to the chapel there was a benediction and kissing of the relic. I don’t know which relic but clearly it was a felt act of devotion by the local populace.

The Catalani band from Marlia, which had accompanied the procession, then grouped itself in the village square and played three pieces which had been the favourites of two former mayors of Bagni di Lucca, Antonio Contrucci and Giancarlo Donati. Indeed Contrucci had played them when he was a member of  the now sadly disbanded Benabbio band.The three pieces were the theme from ‘Gone with the wind’, Gabriel’s oboe and Albinoni’s adagio.

(The adagio, of course, isn’t by Albinoni at all but is, instead, an invention by musicologist Remo Giazotto. Presented to the world in 1958 as a reconstruction of fragments by the Venetian composer which survived the bombing of Dresden’s library – where the majority of Albinoni manuscripts were kept – the adagio was revealed after Giazotto’s death in 1998 to be entirely his invention. No matter: Kreisler did the same with his fake Pugnani, Dittersdorf et al. at a time when the public was less familiar with the language of these ‘old’ composers. Happily this does little to detract from the fact that they are charming piece to play and hear).

Commemoration certificates were presented by Claudio Gemignani, the indefatigable organiser of events in Gombereto, to the families of the two former mayors, both of whom sadly died last year, Contrucci in October and Donati in January and under whom Claudio served as a councillor.

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After other, jollier pieces, we were treated to refreshments. The spread, as usual, was scrumptious with an especially good selection of cakes including cupcakes.

The participants, although certainly not lacking, seemed to be less than in previous years despite the lovely day. It would be very sad if these events began to die out through lack of interest for they represent both an act of faith and also the sense of belonging to a community.

Gombereto fortunately hasn’t yet degenerated into a collection of part-time holiday cottages as has happened to some other villages. Let’s hope it never will. As long as there are people like Claudio to lead the way these traditional village events will certainly continue.

PS. To compare this year’s event with last year’s just click on:



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