|Lucy buys a vase in the outdoor market of Collodi.|
So it all added up—a sunny Sunday in the low seventies, an interesting outdoor market and a chance to see a historical church that was only a few miles from the center of Collodi. We took the train to Pescia, which shortened our bike ride to only a couple of miles up a gradual incline to the Collodi fair. I bought some Italian comic books (Topolino and Tex) and Lucy bought a vase, and we also picked out four used movies on DVD to help us practice our language skills.
|Collodi viewed from partway up the|
I had looked up information the day before about author Carlo Lorenzini, who used Collodi as his pen name. Lorenzini is a very old family name in this region, and I note that Maria Pasqua Lorenzini was the great grandmother of a Guido Spadoni who immigrated to San Francisco in 1903. Thus my California cousins can make a legitimate claim that they are probably very, very distantly related to the author of Pinocchio.
|Getting close to San Gennaro.|
Another notable feature of the church is a terracotta angel that may have been carved by none other than Leonard Da Vinci. This is not some wildly imaginative story—it could really be true. Vinci is only about twenty-three miles from San Gennaro, and both are hillside villages overlooking the Valdinievole. There are records showing Leonardo was regularly consulted regarding canal engineering, and San Gennaro is included on a map that shows the route of one of the hydraulic engineering survey trips.
Ample evidence exists that Leonardo worked as a sculptor from his youth onward. The statue in San Gennaro, which depicts the archangel Gabriel, is about four feet tall and is estimated to have been made between 1476 and 1482. Da Vinci was born in 1452, so he would have been less than thirty when the statue was made. If this is indeed the work of Leonardo, it would be the only one of his sculptures that survived.
The leading expert on the life and works of Leonardo has added credence to this belief, though he stops short of giving a full endorsement. Carlo Pedretti, born in Bologna and now professor emeritus of art history at UCLA and author of numerous books on Leonardo, is cited in an online interview that I have translated from Italian:
“I’m not saying that the sculpture was done by Leonardo . . . (but) . . . the draping on the arm and the setting of the body suggests movement” similar to the works of the great artist and scientist. “Then there is the particular anatomical detail of the feet. But above all is the hair, typical of Leonardo, and the face, like the faces of the images in his early paintings, which backed up the later works of Leonardo.”
Whoever did the sculpture, it is certainly of the highest quality for a little country church, and seeing it made our visit even more worthwhile. Riding back to Pescia was all downhill, and we arrived forty minutes before the next train, giving us plenty of time to sit under an umbrella and enjoy some gelato. We had to change trains at Altopascio, which gave me time to go to the Panificio Gianotto and get two loaves of our favorite bread, the perfect ending to a great outing.