Thursday, March 24, 2011

The warmth and welcome of spring

Saturday, March 19
Spring has started a day early in Toscana! This was the rainiest week since we have been here, but today is mostly sunny, and suddenly it is warm outside. Previously the predominant smells have been of the wet clay-laden soil, with occasional wiffs of decaying vegetation left on the ground from last fall. Now these odors are overpowered by the sweetness of blossoming fruit trees and flowers that seem to have opened up in the last twelve hours.

Lucy and I ride our bikes to Conad, a grocery store that is nearby but on a street we don’t usually take—thus the store avoided discovery until recently. For reasons unknown, the store is closed, though it is now 3:10 p.m. Lucy will go to Luigi’s little shop in San Salvatore instead, but I, now that I have roused myself from a day spent mostly in front of my computer, want to make further discoveries. I bid Lucy good-bye and ride off in the opposite direction.

I find a small tunnel that leads under the A-11 highway to Chiesina Uzzanese. This is helpful, because in our previous visit to this nearby little city, we had to ride over a narrow, steep and trafficoso overpass, not a pleasant task on our aging bicycles. I don’t stop at Chiesina, though, because I am looking for terra nuova today. I head in the direction of Ponte Buggianese. I don’t have a map, but there are always signs that can guide me back to Chiesina when I am done wandering. I have to stop and put my jacket in my backpack, the first time this has happened, another sure sign of spring.

In only fifteen minutes, I find myself unexpectedly in Ponte Buggianese. I must have missed the sign when I entered, and I only realize I have arrived when I look up just in time to see via I. Spadoni, which I recognize from a spring break exploration in a rental car three years ago. I know this street is in the very center of the city, and I follow it about a block to the Comune of Ponte Buggianese, where there is a plaque on the wall in memory of Italo Spadoni. I saw this during a fruitless search three years ago for the birthdate of my great-grandfather Pietro Spadoni. I know from his death certificate that he was born  here around 1831, but that was before Italy became a country, and there are no civic records. The clerk at the records office suggested that I try researching church records, and that remains on my to-do list. She also told me that there are about 100 Spadonis living in Ponte Buggianese, and at the cemetery here, Lucy and I saw dozens of Spadoni gravesites. This city truly seems to be at the center of the Spadoni family in Toscana.

The plaque reads:
alla memoria di
che nel fiore degli anni
il 1° aprile 1924
fu barbaramente assassinato
dai sicari del fascismo
il popolo di Ponte Buggianese
promotore il C. L. Nazionale
con sottoscrizione plebiscitaria
perché i posteri non dimentichino
i martiri che col loro sacrificio
prepararono la redenzione del popolo
e le scelleratezze e i delitti
compiuti sotto il regime del littorio
pose questo marmo
lì 28 settembre 1947

Here is my translation, to the best of my current abilities: To the memory of Italo Spadoni, who in the flower of his years, on April 1, 1924, was brutally assassinated by the hired killers of Fascism. The people of Ponte Buggianese, sponsored by the Community of National Liberation, all contributed so that those who come after will not forget. The martyrs and their sacrifice prepare the way for the redemption of the people and the wickedness and crimes committed under the regime of Fascism. This marble is set here Sept. 28, 1947.

I know that Italo is not in my family line, though we are likely tied together somehow in the distant past. It makes me curious to know more about the development and spread of fascism in Italy. I know that Fascism grew rapidly from 1922-1926, using violence and intimidation to gain power. Mussolini was named prime minister in 1922 and declared himself dictator in 1925. During the years before he joined the German side of World War II in 1940, he was powerful and fairly popular. I am pleased to know that “cousin” Italo saw through Hitler and his ill-fated Fascist movement long before much of the rest of Italy did, but I am sad and angry to think about the high price he and his family paid.

I ride on and find another Conad grocery store. It is open and I buy a few things that I know were on Lucy’s shopping list. Then I stop for ten minutes to watch a soccer game being played among teenagers in a stadium. As I ride back towards Chiesina and my apartment, I see a sign on the outside of a large building for a business called Cecchi & Spadoni. It is closed today, and though I can’t tell exactly what the business is about, I can see it has something to do with automotive services. I feel as if the warm weather and the “Spadoni sightings” I have had today are a way for Italy to say to me that even though I struggle to fit in here, I am welcome to return. I am still a part of Toscana.

1 comment:

  1. How nice to be surrounded by Spadonis.

    Was 60 here yesterday - inspired to mow the very long lawn, get out the bubbles and badmitton


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