Sunday, April 03, 2011

Il Pellegrinaggio Artusiano, Day 5

It has taken me a few days to get to this, and I apologize. Day 5 was different than the others, because for the first time we had a schedule: Elisabetta Cianfanelli, Florence's Assessore al Turismo, was to meet us by Artusi's grave at the Cimitero delle Porte Sante next to the church of San Miniato at noon, and this, for me, posed a problem:

The walk from Stefano's locanda in Pontassieve to the cemetery was comparatively short, 20 km, but to be certain of making it in time given the pace I had been setting, I would have had to set out at about 5 AM. So with considerable regret I decided to go with Stefano's sister, who was driving our bags up to the cemetery. Roy Berardi, who had missed the previous day's walk, joined us at about 8 and we set out shortly thereafter following route on the left bank of the river, which isn't as narrow. An odd day, with very low lead-gray skies and no shadows at all.

After a few km we caught up with the walkers, in a town with a bar, and joined them for a coffee.

Roy walked on with them, while I chose to continue by car. Stefano's sister left me and our bags at the cemetery, and I found Artusi's grave, with a bronze bust put up by the town of Forlimpopoli (he willed his fortune to the town, to provide dowries for poor girls), and a wreath from the city of Florence.

Pretty, and since I was quite early I took advantage of the opportunity to wander about the grave yard. Le Porte Sante is Florence's Cimitero Monumentale, where the famed and respected as well as citizens of means ended up, and the headstones, especially those from the Art Deco period, are quite nice, displaying a wonderful sense of pathos that many more modern headstones don't quite manage. Much to photograph, and I did.

After a time I called Carlo, who said they would be coming up the stairway to San Miniato, so I went to wait for them there, in time to see a Chinese wedding party that had come to the church with a photographer. The groom looked very young, while the bride, who was beautiful, surprised me by lifting her wedding gown to her knees to keep it from getting dusty as she walked. Sensible, I suppose, but I didn't expect her to be wearing odd heelless black leather tennis shoes.

A few other reporters and a couple of television crews joined me, and then the gang appeared! Stopped, too, to unfurl the Artusi banner we had carried, and came up the stairs, while everyone else in the piazzale in front of San Miniato peered curiously at us. Paolo Zoffoli, Forlimpopoli's mayor, joined us, as did Elisabetta Cianfanelli, Florence's Assessore per il Turismo (among other things) and a Standard Bearer and several trumpeters (dressed in Renaissance garb). They blew, the notables talked, we gave Assessore Cianfafelli the copy of Artusi's book and the banner, and took lots of pictures -- Artusi's descendants, one of whom walked with us today, were there too -- and then it was time to say good by and go back to life as usual.

A sad moment with some tears and thoughtful faces, and we'll be thinking about our adventure for a while. Leonardo had a wonderful idea, and we all owe him a tremendous debt for following through on it and inviting us along.