Mary Royall Hight
Entry 4: July 26, 2011
As I was in my apartment at Meredith, finally going through all of my Sansepolcro belongings, I stopped to listen to the birds (gli uccelli) outside of my window singing in the early morning. Hearing their sweet voices instantly brought me back to my last morning of waking up in Tuscany.
Each morning in Sansepolcro, the birds would sing with a sweet melody of greetings. It always made it cheerful and easy to get out of bed and seize a new day in Italia. But as I lay in bed that last morning, knowing I would have to say my goodbyes to Sansepolcro in just three hours, I realized something was different in the birds' voices. I had never heard them sing so loudly...it was almost deafening. It was much more than simple greetings escaping their little beaks. I felt as if they were all telling me a bittersweet goodbye. It was as if they knew I must leave, yet they were pleading me to stay. I felt torn. But hearing them on that last morning reminded me of what my time in Sansepolcro had given me. Sansepolcro, and Italia as a whole, gave me a fresh look onto life, it gave me freedom...it gave me wings.
So, like the beautiful and sweet birds that sang outside of the window that last morning, I knew I had the ability to fly and soar anywhere I pleased…I finally had wings.
"Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give away beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings."
Entry 3: 16 June 2011
I have witnessed the passeajete on more than one occasion. In fact, I take joy in this almost every day. From my window, mio finestra, I am able to see everything from couples sauntering, to young children giggling, to the older couples out for an evening stroll. Being on the third floor, I am able to see a great distance, both ways, down the Via Settembre. From seven in the morning until the wee hours past midnight, I can hear the Italian voices and laughter resonating through the streets.
Beginning in the late afternoon, I am able to smell the sweet aroma of flowers, mixed with the smell of bread cooking in an open fire from the pub below the Palazzo and the people begin to fill the streets. There are certain points in the day where the crowds become very dense. At about five o'clock in the evening until about seven o'clock, the people fill the shops, restaurants, and streets. Later in the night, the people appear again around ten o'clock for evening strolls and visits. No matter the hour, I always enjoy gazing out my window at the pasajete. I first witnessed the passeajete when arrived in Sansepolcro. I arrived on a Friday in the later afternoon. As soon as I ran into the Chiara room, which I was sharing with three of my best friends, I looked out my window at the crowded streets. One of my favorite activities at home is to people watch, and I quickly realized how much I was going to love Italy once I looked out of my window. Not only did I have a view that looks as if it came out of a picture book, but I had the town bustling right beneath me.
Later that night, as well as Saturday and Sunday, the same groups of people filled the streets. What was even more surprising were the children who joined the crowd of teenagers and adults. The children were out with their parents until at least midnight. I was very taken aback by this. In America, one hardly ever sees children out past 10 o'clock at night. Although I was shocked by the presence of the children so late at night, I have grown to appreciate and like this aspect of the culture. I like the fact that the Italian parents allow their children to enjoy the night with them.
One evening, we performed during the Sunday passeajete at five o'clock. In between songs, I enjoyed seeing the familiar faces crowded around us while people were out for their stroll. There were families, groups of friends, and young lovers. I saw some of the same families pass by at least four times. As the crowd lingered around us, it was nice to see their faces light up when we played a familiar tune. I can only imagine how proud they must have felt to know that the music of their culture was being honored and performed. On this particular day, there were many more children out in the town. They were utterly fascinated with our instruments as they strolled past us. The people of Sansepolcro take time just to saunter up and down the main street. There is so much beauty in taking time to walk, greet, and window shop. Americans do not take time to slow down and enjoy themselves like Italians do.
Not only do I enjoy watching the passeajete, but I enjoy participating in it as well. I have never let myself just enjoy walking and chatting. At home, I have a very big problem with doing simple activities. I feel if I am not being productive that I am doing something wrong, and I end up feeling guilty. Never could I picture myself going on an evening stroll in the street because "I felt like it." At home, there are always motives behind my walks: to get somewhere, to work out, to run errands, etc. My shoes even show how fast and hard I walk; I go to the shoe cobbler about once a year. I'm hoping that living in Sansepolcro has taught me to saunter like an Italian. At first it was hard to let this part of my personality go, but I have found it more than liberating. The passeajete has taught me to enjoy time with myself and my friends, and to not be as hard on all of my shoes!
I know I will miss the passeajete the most of all when I leave Sansepolcro. I will miss running into my room and thrusting my head out the window to see who is walking beneath me, voices of the Italian children calling to their parents as they run to the gelato shop, and the crescendo of sound that rises and resonates through the street once five o'clock comes near. I will miss filling the streets with my closest friends while greeting the many new friends that I have made. Just the other night, after a big dinner with all of the girls, a few of us strolled the streets. It was nice to take one of our final strolls on such a clear, warm, and beautiful night. As we made our way down the Via Settembre we crossed paths with a group of Italiana ragazze (Italian girls.) With loosely linked arms, which is the exact way we were walking, we all greeted each other with simple smiles. No matter the culture, the passeajete represents the same aspect for everyone: time with family, friends, one's self, and town. Sansepolcro is very much la dolce vita.
Arezzo e Anghiari
On Saturday we took an excursion to Arezzo and Anghiari. Anghiari is a small, but beautiful, rustic town located about 10-12 minutes (by bus) away from Sansepolcro. It’s placed upon a hill, and looks like a multitude of castles that are strung together. Anghiari is known for its lace, and the quaint, yet very well known linen store, Busatti . The factory is there, but the stores are located in a few other locations as well. Ironically, we have made friends with the owner’s son. Although Anghiari is beautiful, it is COMPLETELY uphill! Let’s just say my calves look good!
We were able to go into a small chapel while we were there…I’m not sure of the name, but it was very quaint. All of the chiesas are so beautiful in Italy. This one had a small pipe organ in the balcony. In the chiesas, you can light a candle in memory or in honor of someone: you make a small contribution, light the candle, and say a prayer. I said a prayer and lit one for my mother and father. We then went to a small museum that opened especially for our group. It was so interesting! There were old hearses and tubs where they washed the deceased bodies, along with old sheet music and historical documents of the town.
Later that day, we headed to Arezzo. But before Arezzo, we had to endure another dreaded and swervy busride. Out of everything in Italy, the one thing I hate are those bus rides. They are not only nauseating, but swervy, bumpy, and jerky. I have done it a total of 8 times now (as of June 1), and it has not become any better!
Once we arrived in Arezzo, all of us music girls took our long awaited picture with Guido of Arezzo. For you kids who do not know Guido, you do not know what you’re missing. Guido created solfege (ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la). Yeah…we were geeks and all took a picture! Dr. Lynch and Dr. Vaglio would have been proud! The main square of Arezzo is beautiful! In fact, it is where the movie “Life is Beautiful” was filmed. We ate in a quaint little restaurant near the square that had the most amazing white wine I had ever tasted. Now, for those of you who know me quite well, you know I love beer. This wine was up there with some of my favorite beers! Later that day, we went to Piero della Francesa’s Legends of the True Cross. The colors were breathtakingly beautiful. There are two types of restoration: to take off the grime and cement that can hide a work of art for so long and then fill in the blanks OR to take off the grime and leave it as is. The restoration team working on these frescos left is as is, and I was amazed at how all the colors had been preserved so perfectly. Piero is famous for portraying biblical scenes with elements of his homeland and period. For instance, one of the cities in the background of his fresco was Sansepolcro.
Although Arezzo was interesting, I was ready to get back to Sansepolcro. It’s kind of odd that I am beginning to call Sansepolcro home. Of course it’s not my home where I grew up, but it feels like a home. It’s comforting, warm, and bright. I don’t want to imagine leaving it for good. Speaking of “home,” I can’t wait to get back there tomorrow. I’m in a hostel in St. Agnello, as I am typing this, and I can’t wait to see my window sill in Sansepolcro! But Sorrento, Naples, St. Agnello, Capri and Pompeii are other stories…I’ll explain soon, I promise.
Entry 1: Day 6: Mi finestra
As I woke up this morning, the church bells could be heard in the near distance chiming 8:00 AM. I could hear the people stirring in the street and children's voices ringing as they made their way to school. Fabrizio, who owns the small cafe across the street, is greeting all of his customers. Suddenly, in the far distance, I heard the call of something oh- so familiar: that darn cat who has been in heat all week! Day and night she hasn't stopped calling out into the streets! All of the sounds of Sansepolcro are mesmerizing...I find myself becoming more Italian everyday because I love to listen and look from my window. I find myself leaning out to hear the birds chirp, to people watch, and to see the beautiful view. Hearing the church bells from my window make it feel like home. In the mornings, at home, I can hear the distance chiming of the country, Baptist church bells, and Sansepolcro is the same.
The past two days were spent mostly practicing and going to class. Last night, Ashlee, Jessie, Emily, and myself were all practicing with the windows open. You could hear us throughout all of the streets. This Sunday we will perform at the gelato festival in Sansepolcro! Playing music in Sansepolcro is surreal...I could have never imagined myself doing this.