Memories for Mondays – originally posted on 26/04/2010
status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
I fall a little more in love with this village every time I walk around it.
During the first few weeks I was obsessed with getting out; fixated by the idea that Pooch couldn’t possibly be happy unless he was off the lead, and galumphing merrily round the countryside. But due to the fact that it isn’t an easy village to leave – most of the promising footpaths turn out to be someone’s driveway – and during the week I simply don’t have time to trek for half an hour before even sniffing freedom, Pooch and I have been spending a lot of time exploring the innards of our new metropolis.
Frankly, when viewed from the outside, the place looks like a bit of a mess. Not half as asthetically pleasing as my French village.
Close your eyes and picture, if you will, a sort of Daliesque symbiosis between the innermost workings of Heath Robinson’s mind and the balcony scene from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. Then picture the whole unwieldy caboodle clinging with palpable desperation to the steep side of a valley.
Now add the very busy little river that runs along the valley bottom, and the myriad of tiny tributaries that course underneath and around its walls as they made their own busy way to the aforementioned busy river.
Every so often, just for the hell of it, pop an ancient and cobbled humpback bridge dating as far back as medieval times over one of the many waterways. Don’t venerate them, or announce their presence with a fanfare, just use them same way they have been used for many hundreds of years.
Interspersed with the bridges, you might try adding an abandoned watermill or two; the pitted mill stones still waiting patiently for a consignment of olives to squeeze the life out of.
And as you are mentally wheezing your way up and down its steep streets, don’t forget to keep peering either side of you. You don’t want to miss the narrow and endlessly winding steps tempting you up and tempting you down; luring you deeper into its honeycomb centre.
Now imagine a huddle of churches, oratories and towers all cozied up together on the site of a Apollonian temple built by the Romans. The oldest part of the construction dating back to the 11th century, the newest, a mere 250-year-old stripling. Together providing the perfect play area for a noisy family of kestrels that are enjoying what the faithful have long since abandoned in favour of the more modern edifice up the road.
To the whole image, add the deafening cacophony of mating frogs (it’s that time of year, the lucky lucky bastards ) an occasional Mexican wave of howling from the village dogs, the flatulent squeals of scooters and three-wheeled ‘bees’, and the soothing ever-present vocals of the locals.
You’ve arrived! Welcome to my life!
This is Status Viatoris, waxing lyrical on the subject of her new Italian village.