La Mia Londra

(I appear to have written this post in Italian without quite realising it. Perhaps it’s because it was primarily addressed to my Italian friends. Anyway, if you’re learning Italian it may be good practise to read it…..)

 

 

Sono appena ritornato da una visita disastrosa dalla città più affascinante e bella (nel pieno senso della parola, cioè non bella esteticamente come Roma o Firenze, ma bella di cuore) del mondo.

Disastrosa non per me che ho esultato nell’Italia più gioiosa (sì, la posso certo dire) dell’’Elisir d’amore’ di Donizetti alla Royal Opera House,

oppure alla squisita mostra di uno dei gruppi pop più grandi che ci sia mai stata, i Pink Floyd in quel museo di musei, la Victoria and Albert (ricordate bene come la nuova piazza di Crasciana fu inaugurata da un’eccellente Pink Floyd cover band – ma come si chiamava?).

 

E anche un poco fuori da Londra, a Bournemouth, la Viareggio inglese, da una tomba che riunisce inesorabilmente Bagni di Lucca col Regno Unito, il sepolcro che contiene non solo la salma di Mary Shelley ma anche il cuore – il ‘cor cordium’ del grande poeta Percy Bysshe Shelley.

No, la mia visita non fu non disastrosa in quel senso ovvio della parola ma disastrosa perché un trittico di cose terribili è accaduto nel tempo del mio soggiorno.

Prima fu la strage di London Bridge: proprio nei pressi, dove ambedue io e mia moglie abbiamo lavorato per anni. E’ una zona così piena di storia. Qui ci furono i primi teatri shakespeariani del sedicesimo secolo. Qui ci fu il vecchio ponte di Londra costruito come il Ponte Vecchio di Firenze con case ambedue i lati e una cappella.

Qui poi i pellegrini di Chaucer si avviarono dal pub di Tabard fino a Canterbury raccontandosi tante di quelle storie tratte dal Decamerone di Boccaccio. . Certi poi proseguirono sulla rotta che, nelle nostre parti si chiama la Via Francigena, per arrivare infine a Roma. Qui ci fu la vecchia prigione detta del Marshalsea, dove il secondo sommo scrittore inglese. Dickens, ambientò il romanzo ‘Little Dorrit’. La chiesa dove Dorrit sposò Clennam esiste ancora.

Qui del distretto ‘rosso’ dell’antica Londra ci furono di tutto: teatro, pub, risse… ma mai nemmeno i più grandi scrittori potevano immaginare quello che è successo il quattro Giugno di quest’anno. Tra la montagna di fiori posso dire che lasciai una rosa per i pensieri e la solidarietà dei cittadini di Bagni di Lucca.

Secondo disastro fu un’elezione generale totalmente disastrosa che lasciò la Gran Bretagna senza un governo di maggioranza di alcun partito.

E allora quella donna d’industria burocratica ma di ribaltata mancanza di leadership decise di formare un’alleanza con un partito di estrema destra dell’Irlanda del Nord – lo stesso partito fondato nel 1971 da uno che, invitato alla Città del Vaticano nel 1988, in un congresso di pace dal Santo Padre Giovanni Paolo II urlò a Woitiva ‘Sei l’anticristo!’

Terzo fu quello che avrete visto sui vostri teleschermi questa mattina: il bruciare di un grattacielo di appartamenti di casa ‘popolari’ lasciando centinaia senza tetto, senza niente, e molti di ogni paese, incluso l’Italia, senza vita.

Eppure la vita di Londra continua senza riguardi: ‘carry on regardless’. Continua come fu lasciata sola al mondo davanti al diavolo terrestre più intenso di tutti i tempi, il dannato, mezzo-baffuto del secolo scorso. Continua Londra a ricrearsi sempre poiché contiene un’energia che emana da cuore ‘cockney’ (come si nominano gli inglesi che sono nati nel suono delle campane di Saint Mary Bow Bells – come mia moglie per esempio!). Continua Londra al lavoro, allo svago, alla creazione, all’amore come poche città ne hanno l’energia di fare. Perché?

(St Mary-le-Bow)

Perché Londra è GRANDE – perché Londra è UNICA – perché Londra è anche Romana, fondata da Giulio Cesare nel 44 A.C.) perché Londra è Francese (invasa dai normanni nel 1066), perché Londra è Italiana, (patria seconda del grande artefice Mazzini), perché Londra è del mondo Perché Londra è di tutti. Londra, dove son nato, dove sono cresciuto, dove ho ottenuto l’educazione migliore del mondo, dove ho trovato moglie e nuova famiglia, dove ho trovato me stesso. Sarò sempre Londinese….

E’ bene che Bagni Lucca abbia ospitato gli inglesi di cultura (sappiamo bene che lo scrittore Inglese Trollope ha anche detto –’le bestie più orribili sono i turisti ma tra questi i più terribili sono i turisti inglesi.). Gli inglesi colti sanno criticarsi con il ‘good humour’.

Celebriamo il nuovo sindaco e speriamo che apprezzi le doti più onorevoli degli inglesi e che li usi per indirizzare Bagni di Lucca sempre verso il centro di un luogo d’immensurabile bellezza toscana. Auspichiamo che continui il lavoro già cominciato dal nostro uscente sindaco e che sia sindaco non soltanto per un suo pubblico di apprezzamento reciproco ma di tutti i cittadini di questo comune.

Un cartello di servizio all’entrata di una stazione della metropolitana Londinese:

(Trad: ‘L’esperienza è semplicemente il nome che diamo ai nostri errori – Buona giornata e rimanete benedetti’)

Cerchiamo interi noi del comune di Bagni di Lucca di viaggiare metaforicamente sulla stessa linea del underground Londinese, sapendo bene a quale stazione ci troviamo quando si ferma il treno e apprendendo bene il nome del nostro capolinea e uscire contenti di essere almeno arrivati verso la nostra casa, a tutte le cose care ai nostri cuori, alle nostre speranze per un futuro di sorrisi e di compagnia buona, positiva e piena di ogni eccelsa cosa della nostra bellissima madre terra, via dai malfattori e gli ingannatori, dirigendoci verso la sensibilità suprema che solo il nostro territorio ci può offrire.

(St Alphege, Greenwich)

Corsanico Festival

TWO CENTURIES OF SACRED ARIAS

The curtain rises on the “Corsanico Festival 2017”, the 36th International Classical Music Festival organized by “The Friends of the Vincenzo Colonna Organ”, Corsanico’s Cultural Association under Graziano Barsotti’s artistic direction. The concert series has the prestigious patronage of the Senate, the Tuscany Region and Lucca Province and is held in the charming artistic setting of Corsanico’s Pieve di S. Michele Arcangelo of.

Ten concerts, five in July and five in August, all themed, but which will have as the centrepiece the great historical organ now known throughout the world: an instrument which is a masterpiece of Venetian organ building, built in 1602 by Vincenzo Colonna.

The thirty six seasons of the organ festival have brought, the world’s greatest organists, orchestras, ensembles and world-famous soloists to Corsanico. This year’s festival is as varied as ever, with music ranging from the middle ages to the present age, touching nineteenth-century opera up to film music, underlining the international importance and excellence of this festival.

Its importance is such that the Senate of the Italian Republic has sent the festival’s director Graziano Barsotti an honorary representative medal for the 2016 Corsanico Festival.

The inaugural evening will be held on Saturday July 8th and is titled “Two centuries of sacred arias”. The performers, organist Gabriele Giacomelli and soprano Maria Gaia Pellegrini will include music by Vivaldi, Handel, Rossini, Mendelssohn, Bellini, Saint-Saens, Verdi and Tosti.

Tickets €. 10

Concerts start at 9.15 pm

Info: tel. 0584 954016 cell phone. 328 5391833

http://www.corsanicomusica.it

grazianobarsotti@libero.it

www.corsanicomusica.it

CARMINA BURANA WITH THE ESAENSEMBLE

On Saturday, July 15, an evening of ancient music, dedicated to the famous medieval composition “Carmina Burana” (XII century).

An interpretation on a vertical axis, performed by the EsaEnsemble vocal sextet.

The vocal and instrumental ensemble is conducted by Sergio Chierici.

Tickets €. 10

BROMLEY YOUTH ORCHESTRA CONDUCTED BY JONATHAN JOSEPH

On Tuesday, July 18, the London Bromley Youth Orchestra, conducted by Jonathan Joseph, will perform music by J. S. Bach, Tchaikovsky, Peter Warlock and F. J. Haydn.

Free admission

OSCAR’ FILM MUSIC FOR BASSOON AND PIANO

Friday, July 21, “Oscar Music” performers, Fabrizio Datteri-piano; Paolo Carlini-bassoon.

Music by Rossini, Gaslini, Pieranuzzi, Morricone, Bacalov, Rota, Boccadoro and Saint-Saens.

Tickets €. 10

RENAISSANCE AND BAROQUE MUSIC FOR VOICE AND ORGAN

Saturday, July 29, “Acclamationi divote” beautiful and touching renaissance and baroque compositions, performed by Olimpio Medori organ and Paolo Fanciullacci tenor. Music by Frescobaldi, Monteverdi, Viadana, Pasquini, Grandi, Rossi, Sanchez, Storace and Legrenzi.

Tickets €. 10.

 ALL-BACH CONCERT

Saturday, August 5, “All Bach” evening dedicated to the great composer Johan Sebastian Bach, played on the organ by Daniele Boccaccio.

Tickets €. 10

LISTENING TO THE CINEMA

On Sunday, August 13, “Listening to the cinema” with the Tuscan Chamber Orchestra, which has repeatedly participated in the Corsanico Festival, always obtaining critical praise with its first violin Antonio Aiello, concertmaster and Matteo Venturini organist. Music by Morricone, Bacalov, Zimmer, Norman, Williams, Morris, Piovani.

Tickets €. 10

MUSICAL TRAVEL BETWEEN CLASSICAL, ETHNIC AND JAZZ

Saturday, August 19, “Many Ways” – musical journey between ethnic, classical and jazz; “Oracle Trio” Carlo Palagi-guitars (see photo); Giuliano Passaglia- soprano and tenor saxophone; double bass; Riccardo Puccetti-percussion, marimba, and drums. Music by Palagi, Garbarek, Puccetti and Towner.

Tickets €. 10

OPERA TRANSCRIPTIONS

Friday, August 25, “Trascrizioni d’opera”, a fascinating program where the organ, together with trumpet, performs opera aria transcriptions. Performers are Marco Arlotti-organ; Michele Santi – period trumpets (see photo); Music by Zanichelli, Cacciamani, Forestier, Verdi, Arban, Morandi and  F. J. Haydn.

Tickets €. 10

ANTONIO BELLANDI DIRIGE TOSCA OF GIACOMO PUCCINI

On Sunday, September 3rd, the 36th Corsanico Music Festival concludes with Puccini’s ‘Tosca’ performed by the winners of the 3rd International “Voci nel Canto” Competition. ‘Musica Omnia’ orchestra conducted by Antonio Bellandi; Directed by Patrizia Morandini; Set designer: Alessio Menicocci.

Tickets €. 15,00

 

 

Cor Cordium

As Luca and Rebecca of Bagni di Lucca’s ‘Shelley House’ bookshop have pointed out, there are, in fact, two Shelley festivals. The first is the one they themselves organize and which spreads itself out to Viareggio, off whose coastline the great romantic poet was drowned, to Bagni di Lucca where Mary received the first published copy of ‘Frankenstein’, to Milan, where Shelley wrote a vivid letter about the city’s cathedral, and to Rome, where the poet’s remains lie buried next to Keats in the protestant cemetery and where recently Rebecca was uniquely invited to recite her marvellous monologue on Shelley’s death. (For an introduction to it see https://www.facebook.com/luca.p.guidi/videos/10213584220545702/?pnref=story )

There is also a second Shelley festival. (I should, of course, say that wherever people meet to discuss and read Shelley’s poetry then surely that is a festival in itself. I’m reminded of Jeremy Corbyn’s quotes from ‘The Mask of Anarchy’ in his much applauded appearance as Islington’s MP in the borough’s Union chapel.) The second festival takes place in Bournemouth and details about it can be found at https://shelleyfrankfest.org/ .

But why Bournemouth? When Percy Bysshe Shelley and his sister Elizabeth published (anonymously) ‘Original poetry by Victor and Cazire’ in 1810 Bournemouth had just begun to exist as a health-giving seaside spa inspired and planned by Lewis Dymoke Grosvenor Tregonwell, a captain in the Dorset Yeomanry. The arrival of the railways to Bournemouth greatly expanded the town and established it as one of England’s premier south coast resorts.

It was the health-giving sea air and the beautiful pine trees (somewhat reminiscent of a northern version of Viareggio I thought) that prompted Percy Bysshe Shelley’s last surviving son, Sir Percy Florence Shelley, to buy Boscombe manor in 1849 with the intention of making it a retirement home for his ailing mother Mary Shelley, widow of the great poet and author of several novels and poems of which ‘Frankenstein’ is by far the best known today.

Sir Percy restructured the place and added a theatre in which he wrote and performed in his own, often farcical plays (e.g., ‘The comedy of Terrors’). Unfortunately, Mary Shelley never came to live at Boscombe and in 1851 died in her home at 24 Chester square, Belgravia (today, incidentally, quite near to the Italian Institute which represents the country which was so close to her heart).

Sir Percy, however, did manage to transport the mortal remains of his mother, together with those of his mother’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, author of the ‘Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ who died shortly after she gave birth to Mary Shelley, and William Godwin, husband of Mary Wollstonecraft, to St Peter’s church yard in the centre of Bournemouth. Previously their remains had lain in old Saint Pancras churchyard which Sir Percy regarded as an unhygienic and undignified place.

Actually Saint Pancras churchyard remains for me one of London’s most romantic corners. It was the secret meeting place of young lovers Percy and Mary and where they decided to elope abroad, an elopement which eventually brought them to Bagni di Lucca and the Villa Chiappa. It remains the final resting place of such greats as J. C. Bach, son of his more famous father J. S, Bach and a fine composer in his own right. It is also where Sir John Soane rests in a tomb which was the inspiration for the characteristic London phone box. (To find out other famous burials in Saint Pancras old church yard see https://www.findagrave.com/php/famous.php?page=cem&FScemeteryid=658411 )

(Sir John Soane’s Tomb in Saint Pancras Old Churchyard)

The Shelley’s family tomb at Saint Peter’s is a fairly sombre dark stone slab placed a little way up the church yard. To read its inscriptions with the names of the Shelleys buried within is, however, a truly amazing experience. It was difficult not to be moved by the place where Mary Shelley her mother, her father, her son and her beloved husband’s heart all found their final rest upon this planet. We were visibly moved and when we touched the grave we felt the pulse of a strangely warm energy vibrating in our bodies. It was a sort of cosmic communication. There was even a sky lark singing:

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar and soaring ever singest.

The scene surrounding the grave has, of course, changed over the years, sometimes for the better and too often for the worse,

St Peter is one of Britain’s most glorious neo-gothic churches designed by that master architect G. E. Street. It has a magnificent interior and is headed by a tower and steeple which is Bournemouth’s highlight.

Less admirable is the name given to the nearby pub entitled ‘The Mary Shelley’. I don’t think somehow that Mary would have liked to have a pub named after her – a library would surely have pleased her more, Furthermore, thanks to German intervention in the last war, the old houses surrounding the churchyard were bombed and the department store facing the churchyard is quite out of scale.

However, all this is forgotten in the tranquil peace of the churchyard where the members of one of Great Britain and Ireland’s most remarkable family have found their eternal rest.

Outside on the church yard wall is this blue plaque.

As guests of a charming and highly cultivated lady, whose bench and plaque in memory of two persons so dear to her (and us) lie just after the entrance to the road leading to her own Italian retreat between Gombereto and Longoio, we were privileged to dine in her Voysey-inspired house before being taken to another important Shelley memorial and one which is to be found in one of England’s most glorious parish churches – indeed one of the glories of English Romanesque and gothic architecture, Christchurch priory – said to be one of the most closely guarded secrets of great ecclesiastical architecture. Indeed, I’d never even heard of it!

Here are some pictures of the wonderful priory.

I realised how much I miss fan and lierne vaulting on such an immaculate scale in Italy, no matter how many beauties this country can offer….

Inside there is this moving neoclassical monument to Shelley and his wife, Mary:

Commissioned by the poet’s son and sculpted by Henry Weekes, the monument is almost like an Italian Pietà with the poet transformed into a Christ-like figure and his wife Mary into a grieving Madonna. It’s as if the sea was Percy Bysshe Shelley’s crucifixion with Mary anguished like the Saviour’s mother. Why is the monument here? It’s because the vicar of Saint Peter’s refused to have it in his church and so it was accepted instead by Christchurch priory. I think the reason for St Peter’s refusal may largely have been due to the quasi-religious allusions in the monument – an irony when one considers that Shelley was already an avowed atheist at Oxford where he was sent down for writing a pamphlet on ‘the necessity of Atheism.’

I do believe however that reading through the great poet’s work there shines a light of immense grandeur, a sense of something greater than anything the material world can offer. Shelley was principally against organised religion which he saw, like Marx, as the oppressive opium of the people (which it certainly must have been in those repressive times) but I am sure Shelley believed in a supreme deity or God, call him/her what you will. After all, in his ‘Essay on Christianity’ Shelley writes:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Blessed are those who have preserved internal sanctity of soul; who are conscious of no secret deceit; who are the same in act as they are in desire; who conceal no thought, no tendencies of thought, from their own conscience; who are faithful and sincere witnesses, before the tribunal of their own judgments, of all that passes within their mind. Such as these shall see God.

We thank our dear friend who bears the same name as Shelley’s wife and his wife’s mother, indeed the mother of God himself, who enabled us to enter yet another portal into the transcendent universe of one the world’s most creative love-partnerships.

 

 

 

 

New Mayor for Bagni di Lucca

As a result of the local council elections yesterday there is a new mayor for Bagni di Lucca. His name is Paolo Michelini and he beat the former Mayor Massimo Betti by 80 votes. Third was Claudio Geminiani and last by a long way was Quinto Bernardini.

More details at

http://www.luccaindiretta.it/politica/item/95822-candidati-e-liste-bagni-di-lucca.html

Twelve councillors were also elected and these can be regardless of the mayor’s party in power. The twelve councillors are

Maria Barsellotti, Carlo Giambastiani, Francesca Lenzarini, Monica Melani, Sebastiano Pacini, Marco Pelagalli, Silvano Iacopo Salotti, Antonio Bianchi (Uniti per cambiare), Massimo Betti, Giulia Mariani (Progetto Rinascimento), Laura Lucchesi, Claudio Gemignani (Un futuro per Bagni di Lucca).

I wonder what the future holds for Bagni di Lucca. At least it won’t have to contend with the highly confused picture now thrust upon the inhabitants of the uk.

Longoio in Watercolour and Photography

Recently this watercolour appeared on our local village Italian facebook page ‘Longoio nel cuore’. It had been in Lio’s house and was now in Melbourne. Sadly Lio passed away last year (see my post at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/goodbye-lio/ ).

I decided the other week to see how Longoio looks now from as near the same spot as the picture was done.

I don’t know which year the water colour dates from or who painted it or even how it finished up in Melbourne. Perhaps someone could tell me.

It’s nice to know, however, that Longoio hasn’t changed much and that it’s still here!

Are you ophidiophobic? Then don’t read this post!

Summer, which is barely two weeks away, is also snake-breeding-time in our part of the world. There are eight different species of snakes in Tuscany but luckily (for us) only one is poisonous. The viper or vipera is easily recognized by its almost triangular head and particular skin pattern. Its greatest concentration is in the Maremma in southern Tuscany.

Providentially all snakes are shy animals and will only react if you tread on them. Unfortunately this is an easy thing to do especially in the ever-lengthening grass and undergrowth of this season. The non-poisonous snakes are called ‘bisce’ here.

So don’t go around in sandals or even barefoot on the Tuscan hills. Wear a decent pair of ankle-length boots.

A couple of weeks ago we were dining at Santina’s, a highly recommended trattoria at Sab Cassiano and famous for its tortelli, when someone drew our attention to these snakes.

Yes, it’s the season of love for snakes too! Bet you’re not so contortionist in your love-nest……..

I didn’t get much closer to work out if they were of the poisonous variety but the two were certainly having a truly kinky time as this film will also show,

 

If you want to know more about snakes then there’s a useful page at

http://abcterra.altervista.org/wordpress/serpenti-italiani/

And if you’re bitten by one then check out the remedies on my post at

https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/aspicious-rescue/

 

PS If you are an acute sufferer of ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) then I suggest you move either to Ireland or, if you wish warmer climes, emigrate to Sardinia – both snake-free islands thanks to saintly intervention.