A view with histories...
I published the above photo looking out our main entrance at il Poggiolo on Instagram the other day. Miraculously, it got 21 likes. No one bothered to comment beyond liking. Naturally, this tally pales considerably against the 10,723 likes for an Instagram post the very same day of a red Vespa parked in front of a contrasting wall of ochre stucco, probably last slapped-on 250 years ago. Degrado fa bellezza. Might it be more the wall than the Vespa? Chissa? Does rather indicate what people are keen on. Stone ain’t it. But, hey! There’s a lot of histories in my photo…
Hundreds of years ago, Our Favoured Village of Codiponte was nestled on the other side of the Aulella River from where it and Our il Poggiolo stand today and where now stands the Pieve di Codiponte… AKA The Village Church… and a row of houses, one giving refuge to the Scuzzy Bar… at the base of that big, lumpy mountain in the background. That Big Lumpy Mountain… no one has ever mentioned if there is a name attached… is missing good part of itself. Long ago, perhaps at the beginning of the Christian Era, though certainly after the Fall of the Roman Empire, the mountain’s mass above the tree line of olive groves and forests slid down after days and days and days… and days of torrential rains. In a jiffy, old Codiponte was wiped out. Obliterated. Gone. A truly catastrophic occurrence.
The mountain is kind of bald looking, isn’t it? The forests below the tree line, apparently, are inhabited by cingiale… or, boars. Hunting is very important in these parts. A sport every Wednesday & Sunday of the weeks between October & February. Occasionally, a hunter and part-time pyro-maniac, sets fire to those forests to flush out the cingiale from their dark eyries. These jerks… for lack of a better and gentile title… never take into consideration the local winds. The fires do not destroy the forest but, rather thanks to the local winds, burn up and incinerate what greenery has cropped up above the mountain’s tree line since the last incendio… or, forest-fire. Lots of excitement though when a fire erupts. About every two to three years. Helicopters, Canadair turbo-props and lots of fire trucks & vans from Aulla… 30 minutes away… arrive to combat the fiery menace. These various services create a kind of wonky ballet on the ground and in the air but, they do save the day.
Codiponte is in a nearly enclosed valley but for the Aulella River. It meanders to the Mediterranean Sea through a species of canyon the locals refer to as la Gola… or, the throat. A dirt track which follows the river was transformed into an asphalted provincial highway in the 60’s after the devastating floods of ‘66 & ‘67. Are you old enough to remember Florence in 1966? The government sagely saw fit to bring the Lunigiana into the Modern Age with the new infrastructure. Before, you had to drive twisty-windy roads, often only well worn dirt roads, over the mountains between Codiponte and the Mediterranean Sea. The village’s valley makes a wide open bowl. The part towards the course of the sun has olive trees, as shown in the photo, and the part in the shade, chestnut trees. You made you money off the former and lived off the later. Both important for the folk, once-upon-a-time. Not so much today.
The closed up stone house in the photo and opposite our entrance arch was not always so spiffy. Typical of Italian village houses, it’s on two floors. The Ground Floor for the animals… out of view and now has the main entrance to the house, its kitchen and a microscopic seating & dining area… while the Second Floor… its secondary entrance gate is seen in the photo, which today has the house’s only bedroom & bath … is where the inhabitants lived, ate, slept, other. Before the current owners… a unpleasant couple who begrudgingly say Buon Giorno to You & I, if they don’t bolt in the opposite direction when they see us!!!… bought the place and spiffed it up. Sometimes the owner’s grown son from a previous marriage comes with his dog for long holiday weekends and for Codiponte’s sagra in September. He’s nicer. Way nicer, thanks to his Mother. The previous inhabitants were a woman who raised her two children in the house. It was a dump. Dilapidated, leaky roof, cardboard stuffed in the windows, dirty and unkept. Gossip describes her and her family as the poorest in Codiponte. Hard life. Not helped by a job-less, ignorant AND violent husband. He took His Stuff elsewhere.
The ramp, which climbs past the spiffified house and il Poggiolo’s rock retaining wall on the right in the photo leads up to the Borgo Castello. The Codipontesi got smart after the disaster of the sliding mountain and built the new town of Codiponte on top of a hill behind il Poggiolo, along with a castle and a perimeter wall. The later maked up part of il Poggiolo’s courtyard. Over time, the village outgrew its perch and slowly built down to where the village stands today. Progress. In stone.
That’s about it. Now you know more than you did before. Isn’t history fascinating?