Sunday, 18 November 2012

"sta il cacciator fischiando / su l'uscio a rimirar" ("San Martino", poem by Giosuè Carducci).

The Feast of San Martino celebrates the transition from summer/autumn to the depths of winter;  seen by Carducci as a threshold.   The weather is expected to be unseasonably mild;  the Italian version of an Indian summer.

This year, however, whilst very warm, it rained, and it rained.  In Tuscany and Umbria they were flooded, as RAI news endlessly reminded us.  Even the "Tevere"in Rome nearly broke its banks.  Here in our little part of Le Marche our little "temporary replacement" bridge (see blog of 1st May 2012) was swept away by the flood waters of the Cesano river.

Now there are two bridges, the old and the new, both impassable.  Locals come from the north and from the south banks of the divide to stare at the destruction.

On the south side there is a little restaurant, a kind of roadside cafe, frequented by lorry drivers and canny locals. The food here is excellent and cheap, as is the house wine (even cheaper this time of year because the new "novello" wines have just been pressed). Today the restaurant is almost empty. The patron bemoans his loss of custom with a shrug and a smile, as he heaps another helping of fresh "pesce blu" onto our plates. These "little pilchards"(?) are baked whole in a seasoned crumb  and are eaten with your fingers. They may be finger-licking good, but this is more feast-food than fast-food.

Whilst one thoroughfare has been destroyed another has been created.  The pathway up to our front door has been concreted.  The actual work took less than two hours.  The build up took many hours of argument among the workers - how wide should it be, how high, how steep the angle of incline?  We had very little say and, as usual, Paolo did it his way.  Once paved, I'm sure it will be perfect, or, at least, Paolo will convince us it is so.

For those interested, here's my own liberal translation of Carducci's "San Martino"

Clouds shroud the hills
A mist rises
And under a nor’ westerly
A rage-blanched sea cries out.

Meanwhile, unseen, beguiling fumes
Of fermenting wines in oaken vats,
Smother the alleyways of the borgo,
Seducing the senses.

A spit, over a burning log
Turns the roast, the fat spatters,
In a doorway stands the hunter
Whistling, watching, waiting.

Starlings swirl in charcoal scribbles
Across the clouds’ pastel blush
Wayward scrawls, like wayward thoughts
Atone at evensong.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for lovely poem and good translation, which slightly cheered me up for bad news about the bridge. Let's hope eatery is still there in May, when we return.