|Olive trees surround the city in this view from near the top.|
If I were a pessimist, today might be considered a waste of time, an exercise in futility and frustration. But I am not, and I thoroughly enjoyed going on a long bike ride—and walk—to Uzzano Castello while searching for family tree information and drawing a complete blank.
|The frana that forced the road closure.|
|One downside of olive trimming is the ubiquitous smoke.|
Last year I found Egidio’s birth certificate in Pescia, but when I tried to find out more about his younger brothers and sisters, the people working in the Pescia archives said that the location of the family house had passed from the jurisdiction of Pescia to Uzzano and then to Chiesina Uzzanese shortly after Egidio’s birth. To find the “state of the family” document, I was told I would have to look in the Castello del Capitano in Uzzano Castello, which was only open two days a month. I had not been able to make it last year, but I had put it on my list of possible research topics for this year.
Since spring has come early here—all sunny days and temperatures ranging from 65 to 70 degrees all this week—today seemed like a good day to take the journey, and it being the second Friday of the month, the archives should have been open. However, the web site providing me this information had not been updated since 2012, leaving some room for doubt, and an e-mail I had sent asking for confirmation had bounced back.
I took off around 10 a.m. and made a 20-minute ride to the base of the collina that leads to Uzzano Castello, a city with medieval origins on the side of a mountain. The winding route up to Uzzano Castello is about three kilometers, all of it too steep to ride my bike. In addition, I was faced with a sign saying the road was closed near the cemetery because of a frana, a word I didn’t know. I figured it was probably a landslide, and not wanting to take a long detour to an alternate road on the other side of the hill, I went anyway, reasoning that I could walk my bike past the frana.
|It appears some people leave their olive nets up year around so they are always ready for the harvest.|
|Church of Saints Jacopo and Martino.|
At the municipio, my hopes rose when the clerk found an index card with the names of Egisto and his wife Virginia Giuntoli, but after a couple of minutes of deliberation with a colleague, he told me he didn’t know where the actual state of the family document could be located. I have some suspicions that the state of the family documents are still in the building at the top of the hill, but the city government doesn’t have the personnel available to make them accessible to the public.
If the document is not here, then where? I asked. There is a young man who knows everything, the clerk told me. If I called this ragazzo, he could tell me how to find what I was looking for. The clerk made a photocopy of the young man’s business card—it was Andrea Mandroni, the same person I see twice a week when he opens the parish archives in Pescia. I have already received much help from Andrea and was trying to avoid wearing out our friendship with my endless questions, but there was no use explaining this to the clerk, so I thanked him and rode off. I took a different route home, which seemed appropriate, since I already felt that I had just been going in circles. Still, had I been simply a tourist in Italy today, not doing research, this might have been the very excursion I would have chosen anyway. The weather, the sights, sounds and smells—everything else had been perfect. I arrived home around 1 p.m. to find Lucy waiting with a savory beef stew on the stove, and we dined outside.
|The reddish glow is from the red walls of the Casolare.|