Manna from the EU...

Mentioned a few times before…

Codiponte is the local dialect for… At the head of the bridge… notifying travelers, pilgrims & merchants in the post-Fall-of-the-Roman-Empire of a toll to pay at the village’s singular & important bridge. It was the only one around allowing folk to continue to the Garfagnana, Lucca and on to Rome.

There have been several Codiponte bridges over the last millenium and a half. The last was built in 1978 and is referred to as The New Bridge. Or, at least, that is how You & I call it. Others say, The Casciana Bridge. Casciana is the town with a scenic overlook of Codiponte way down below. The New Bridge is a typical ode to 70’s heavy concrete and enormous I-beams spanning the Aulella River. Saves people from driving or walking over the next-to-last bridge erected sometime in the 17th Century to reach the villages above Codiponte, i.e. Casciana. It is the very one You & I and Our Neighbors use to get to the proverbial other side or, the parking lot. There is the vestige of a yet another bridge, the Before-the-next-to-last one, today acting as a terrace to a neighbor’s stone batiment of a house. They rarely use the it.

Today’s Next-to-last-bridge has two lovely stone arches, a Madonnina in the middle to commemorate one span swept away in the devastating floods of 1967. The 1966 flood which swirled Florence to Nightly News destruction hit Codiponte too, but town & bridge resisted. Not so the year after. The bridge is a sure-shot to car or house. Old ladies with canes, three-wheeled Ape’s, FIAT Panda’s and tractor’s often cross over it to fast-track into or out of the village. From afar, it is a pleasing monument in weathered stone and lichens. Walking across it is a reminder of how ugly asphalt can be. Well, no more…

A Young Citizen of Codiponte, a recent graduated from Parma University in the management & safe-guarding of historic monuments & stuff, found gainful employment to do just that at our City Hall, in Casola in Lunigiana, Our Mother Capital. One fine day, tending to her duties, a letter passed across her counter from the ministry of the European Community concerned about the continent’s vast array of historical & cultural monuments, small or large. The gist of its communication was, the ministry was disposed to launching a whole bunch of Euro funds in anyone’s way, if they/it could demonstrate a worthy cause, small or large. Our Young Citizen got fast to work. One of her proposals was our Next-to-last bridge in Codiponte. And, it was accepted.

You & I knew nothing of this until one day last summer, a Committee of Suits was seen gathered at the Next-to-last bridge, along with Our Young Citizen and others not in suits but, jeans & giubbotto’s from hailing from City Hall.

Then, last week, we could not leave our cars at the parking lot before the bridge. Its space consumed by large equipment, a portable latrine, scaffolding, an aluminum sided-shack, other. Some things were later moved. Quickly following though was a sun-glasses clad hunk manipulating a ditch-digger. Here is what they dug up…

A Medieval stone roller-coaster.

Our First Reaction was… Oh! Che bello!!! Second Reaction was… How in the Hell is Terasina going to cross the bridge even with her cane? Third was… How in the f**k are we going to cross with our groceries? The Dogs love it. New earthy smells. The best avenue was to move onto hypothesis of the bridge’s history according to Our Esteemed Local and historian…

Originally, the bridge was shorter and with only one arch, the one nearer the houses along the banks and below il Poggiolo. The Aulella River was not as wide as it is today. Problem with rivers and flooding is the flood waters often alternatingly ricochet off its banks. Someone got fed up with how the river was managing flood waters at Codiponte and changed the river’s flow. And, a second arch was added. It got washed away in 1967. A Madonnina was built in the arch’s reconstruction to commemorate the event but, you had to step up to leave flowers or a lighted candle.

Forgot a Reaction… They can’t leave this roller-coaster pavement, can they? We will know soon. Met another Esteemed Local, who told me a meeting of Suits and City Hall senza is scheduled for tomorrow to find out what next. Another bridge?