My Flower is at Borgo a Mozzano

Borgo a Mozzano is well-known for its azalea festival which I have described in various posts:

It was, therefore, a bit of a surprise when no azalea festival was announced for this April. I needn’t have worried for this May week-end Borgo has put on a truly dazzling day of flowers which in some respects is even better than the azalea displays.

There are contributions from every borgo or village in the comune of Borgo, streets events and art displays. Car-parking is, as usual easy in the Penny Market supermarket park and the catering includes everything from lampredotto to zucchero filato.

With these climatically somewhat unpredictable days there was a sharp tempestuous shower in the afternoon but, at least the flowers on show appreciated it! Judge for yourselves.

The old town turned itself into a flower garden, thanks to arrangements arranged by local florists, associations and schools. I especially liked the Vespa display with 1969 original trappings including flower-title 45 rpm records and a dansette gramophone.

Even door handles were decorated.

There were many handicraft stalls.

Even restaurants offered flower-themed menus. I think anyone who has stayed in Italy will have tasted how delicious courgette flowers and even dandelions are when fried in batter.

Simonetta Cassai hosted an exhibition of paintings which highlighted what progress her students had made in the art course held there.

I loved these boxed 3-D pictures which a local teacher also uses for elementary school activities.

The Municipal Library held a photographic exhibition.

Activities starting from Borgo included a trek up to Monte Bargiglio which I have described at

The Monte Agliale Astronomical Observatory will also be open during the evenings of the festival, welcoming visitors to discover the wonders of the sky if the clouds we’ve been recently having permit,

There are also treks along the Gothic Line which I have described at:

For more information on the festival look at the web site at

It’s an event that you cannot afford to miss if you are in the Lucchesia and entry is free too!

Crucifixion in Borgo a Mozzano

Borgo a Mozzano last night was the scenario for the enactment of Jesus Christ’s last human moments on Earth. Through the narrow alleys of this atmospheric town the various biblical episodes were played out in what was termed  ‘Sequela di Pasqua’.

First there was the Messiah’s joyful entry in Jerusalem and the meeting with his disciples in Borgo’s main square:

There was the last Supper where Jesus broke bread and drank wine and said to his disciples ‘do this in memory of me’. He also warned that one of them would betray him:

The harrowing scene in the garden of Gethsemane followed where Jesus pleads to God that his bitter cup may be taken away from him. If not, however, ‘let your will be done’.

Judas points out the Roman soldiers who they must capture by kissing Jesus who is then captured and led away.

The trial follows and Caiaphas and his Pharisees demand Christ’s crucifixion.

But Pontius Pilate can’t find anything wrong with Jesus. He washes his hands of the whole matter.

There is then Christ’s carrying of the cross with all the stations enacted. See if you can recognize some of them in the following photos. They are:

  1. Pilate condemns Jesus to die
  2. Jesus accepts his cross
  3. Jesus falls for the first time
  4. Jesus meets his mother, Mary
  5. Simon helps carry the cross
  6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
  7. Jesus falls for the second time
  8. Jesus meets the three women of Jerusalem
  9. Jesus falls for the third time
  10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes
  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
  12. Jesus dies on the cross
  13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
  14. Jesus is placed in the tomb

Finally, there is the crucifixion behind the apse of Borgo’s main church of San Jacopo.

This vivid enactment didn’t finish here for we were invited into the church of San Rocco magnificently decorated with an amplified altar and where there was a fine choral concert which also included Mozart’s ave verum. As traditional, the proceedings were wound out with a rinfresco in the parish hall.

It’s been some time since the Sequela has been carried out in Borgo a Mozzano but thanks to the spirited collaboration of its citizens and associations this year a convincingly moving enactment was performed. It was even more poignant due to the fact that on the same day there had been massacres of Christians in two Coptic churches in Egypt. Plus ca change…

Love of Literature in Mediaevalle

UFor lovers of literature and poetry there are two unmissable events today in our part of the world. The first is at 5 pm at Shelley House, Bagni di Lucca. It’s the presentation of Enrico Botta’s book, Mal-aria D’Africa, which has been produced by Luca and Rebecca’s publishing house Cinque Marzo.

(Enrico Botta)

Who is Enrico Botta? He’s a Viareggio director and known to the public for his musical ‘Snow White’ and ‘Aenigma’ with Antonio Casanova. Mal-aria D’Africa is Enrico’s first novel and the title clearly alludes to the disease, literally meaning ‘bad air’, a contagion which once proliferated over marshland areas like the Italian Maremma. The novel is about a young entertainer who travels to Africa and, in particular to the beautiful lands of Kenya. Here he becomes seriously ill. Meanwhile an actor thousands of miles away in Milan puts on a replica of the entertainer’s last show. The two events are thus bound together in a strange parallel universe: Italy and Africa.

Regrettably I won’t be able to attend this presentation since a friend and member of that heavenly vocal group Stereotipi who have done so much, through their school and performances, to raise musical standards in our part of the world, Lia Salotti, is, at the same time, arranging a presentation of a book of poems written by her mother Ivana Domenici.

The appointment with poetry is also this Saturday at 5.00 pm in the hall of the former Convent of the Oblate in Borgo a Mozzano. Present will be the poet Ivana Domenici who teaches history at Borgo a Mozzano’s school Borgo a Mozzano.

The book is published by Ama Ducci and enriched with illustrations by Mirco Martinelli. It brings together some forty poems that retrace the author’s life: feelings and emotions and moments. The event will be presented by Gabriele Matraia and Maria Teresa Malerbi, while actors Valentina Gianni and Federico Barsanti will read selections from the book. There’s also going to be a musical accompaniment with Martino Biondi, guitar, Lia Salotti, violin, and Serena Salotti, voice.

I’m so glad that literature, especially, is alive and kicking in the Lucchesia – which reminds me that my  own humble effort will soon see the light of the world after the success of my volume ‘Septet’, publshed last year (See )





How People Work in the Lucchesia

A fine photographic exhibition curated by Luca Lorenzetti opened last Sunday at Borgo a Mozzano’s library in the elegant Palazzo Santini.


The exhibition focuses on manual occupations and at first sight the photos could be mistaken for belonging to another age. This perception is heightened by the fact that most of the photographs are in black-and-white.


However, the pictures are of the present times and it is wonderful to see how many traditional crafts are still being carried out in our area.

It’s the hands of people, whether they are harvesting barley, threading baskets, pounding pasta or arranging flowers, that grabs one’s attention.

The exhibition, which is titled “Vi presento il Mestiere Lucchese” (“I’m showing you how people in the Lucchesia work”), is accompanied by a book which describes six crafts in the area. These are the following:

Corbellaio Basket-maker
Fabbro Blacksmith
Mammaluccaio (figurinaio) Plaster figurine maker
Mietitore Harvester
Norcino Pork butcher
Pasticciere Pastry maker

In a post-industrial society Italy is beginning to realise how important it is to preserve traditional crafts and to interest younger people in them before the knowledge vanishes. Already Italy’s youth, in desperation at the lack of jobs and the amount of land going uncultivated, have re-considered agriculture as a worth-while occupation. Moreover, smothered by imitative mass-produced products from other parts of the world, this country has refound what it’s best at: making some of the finest and most beautiful objects found anywhere in the world and, of course, producing some of the tastiest food and wine one is likely to ever come across.

This very worth-while exhibition is another in the sequence of interesting photographic shows at Borgo’s library. It’s open until 5th March at the following times:

Mon-Thur 14.30 -18.30; Fri 9,30 -12,30, 14,30 -18,30; Sat 9.30 -12,30.

It Takes a Mass to Tango

Ever since the Missa Luba was first heard and recorded in the 1958 there has been a succession of world music masses. Among these the Missa Criolla (performed by Andrea Salvoni’s choir in Barga cathedral last year – see my post on it at ) stands out. I was, therefore, particularly keen to hear the Misa Tango, composed by contemporary Argentinian composer Martin Palmeri, at the convent church of San Francesco, Borgo a Mozzano last night.


(Martin Palmeri)

The item formed part of the Christmas concert organized by the Stereotipi vocal group. I was lucky enough to participate as a member of the choir in one of these concerts in December 2012 when we sang (among other pieces) a Mass by Michael Haydn, Joseph’s brother.

This was the programme:


The children’s choir (beautifully expressed in Italian as ‘voci bianche’ – white voices) sang a selection of Christmas songs with a grace far beyond that of the standard songs that children of that age are expected to perform in Italy (i.e. largely fatuous ‘pop’). It just shows how teachers Serena Salotti and Felicity Lucchesi have been able to get those of a young age to sing to a standard expected in such places as the typical English cathedral choir school.


The fine Stereotipi choir – now expanded to a good dozen voices – followed with Faure’s exquisite ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’. As with the previous item, the balance between voice and piano, superbly played by Massimo Salotti (friend but no relation), was well-judged.

It may seem a strange mixture of sacred and profane to set a Latin Mass to tango rhythms but then tango is itself a form that has been raised to the highest level by such composers as Ginastera and Piazzolla. (See my post on the latter at After all, didn’t sublime musicians, like Bach and Mozart, raise dance music, such as gavottes, minuets and sarabandes, to the highest levels in their compositions?

The tango’s often acerbic harmonies and its infectious syncopations were fully captured by the ensemble accompanied by Massimo who truly understood the heart of the genre on the keyboard.

Apart from driving rhythms, often startling cluster chords and glissandi, full importance was given to Palmeri’s settings of the more reflective sections of the Mass, especially the ‘Benedictus and the ‘Dona Nobis pacem.’

It was most appropriate that this Argentinian Mass was performed in St Francis convent for, after all, isn’t the present pope also Argentinian and called Francis?

The Stereotipi had previously performed the Misa Tango in Livorno in the full arrangement for choir, soloists, and orchestra which should include that flexible South American tango instrument, the bandoneon. However, it was agreed that, just with a small choir doubling as soloists and a piano accompaniment, the essential impact of this extraordinarily infectious work was well-realised.

Again, for a free concert at Christmas time offered by the munificence of dedicated musicians, the church should have had a rather larger audience. However, those present fully appreciated the immense effort that had gone into the interpretation of yet another masterpiece of world music.

In a church attractively decorated with poinsettias, courtesy of Olesia Fiori ad Arte and with sponsorship from Borgo’s Misericordia, Valentina Brecevich did a fine job in presenting the evening and wished us all a Very Merry Christmas which, clearly I extend to all my readers!

Afterwards we met up with the dedicated musicians in the adjoining hall for a well-deserved rinfresco of prosecco and panettone – the Italian equivalent of other countries’ minced pies and mulled wine and even more delicious!


The evening was truly a joyous one and we left the historic convent with lighter hearts and happier expectations! Well done to all those involved as performers and collaborators at this memorable evening!


Local Concerts You Can’t Afford to Miss


The ‘Incontri Musicali – i luoghi del bello e della cultura’ season is on this November. It’s  organized by the “Marco Salotti” School of Music at Borgo a Mozzano, with the patronage of the Municipality of Borgo a Mozzano and the collaboration of Teatro Colombo of Valdottavo, the Barga and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana Civic Schools of Music, the Borgo a Mozzano Misericordia and the Cluster Association from Lucca. Artistic direction is by Giacomo Brunini.

The event, now in its seventh year, will take place in Valdottavo’s beautiful “Colombo” Teatro Comunale, in other beautiful halls of the Municipality of Borgo a Mozzano such as the Palazzo Santini Municipal Library and the convent of San Francesco so as to allow the public to rediscover gorgeous locations in the municipality. The six concerts in the program will range from early music to jazz to contemporary music.

The two remaining concerts are:



On Sunday, December 4 at 5 pm in the convent of San Francesco in Borgo a Mozzano there’s a recital by guitarist Nuccio D’Angelo. The program includes music by John Dowland and J.S Bach.


All concerts are free admission with offering.
Cell. 3498496612 (art direction)



On Sunday, December 11th at 5 pm in the town library of Borgo a Mozzano there’s a  concert by the ” Etymos Ensemble “organized in collaboration with the CLUSTER Association of Lucca.
All concerts are free admission with offering.
Cell. 3498496612 (art direction)