We’ve been friends for a few years. I offer to take her to discover the beauty and secret corners of Barberino Val d’Elsa. A stroll through the history and culture of my land. We go in through the Sienese Gate, the castle greeting us in all its splendor. The stones’ silence is deafening and the names of Francesco and Andrea da Barberino, the former, the author of the illuminated book that included the first references to Dante’s Divine Comedy, the latter, a precursor to chivalric literature, adorn the street signs, narrating for us the thousand years’ worth of events in this village that dates to the 13th century. Barberino owes its origin to the Barberini, a noble family of tailors who went on to boast some of the most influential political figures of the Italian Renaissance, Pope Urban VIII himself a descendant.
We wander through the small streets, squares and palaces, like Palazzo Corsini. We stop to admire the Church of San Bartolomeo and a local shows us a hidden treasure: the ancient church of San Bartolo, where horseflies from the Barberini coat of arms transformed over the course of centuries into industrious, working bees.
We continue our stroll, reaching the Pilgrims' Hospice (Spedale dei Pelligrini). This is where Andrea da Barberino wrote Guerrin Meschino (Wretched Guerrin). In the presence of history, the spectacle of nature and rural tradition, our love is born.
Selma is like a flower that should be caressed with beauty. I gather my courage and ask her to marry me. We rehearse in Sant’Appiano, with one of the oldest parish churches in Tuscany.
The allure of the nave, the 15th-century frescoes, the story of Gherarduccio dei Gherardini, an ancestor of the Fitzgerald Kennedy family, buried in the nave. But the ‘yes’ arrives only in the legendary city of Petrognano-Semifonte, the symbol of the rebirth of that long-disputed and uninhabited land, home to one of the most significant monuments of the late Renaissance, an exact reproduction of Brunelleschi’s Dome in 1:8 scale. It’s here that Selma and I swear our eternal love to each other.
I look at my three children, Lorenzo, Duccio and Aisha, and I still read the story of a sincere and shared love. Lorenzo loves to ride his bike. There are no hills that can withstand his inseparable mountain bike, from the Tignano Castle to those in Linari, Monsanto and Paneretta, through the villages nestled in the Chianti: Isole Olena, Poneta, Marcialla, San Filippo, San Martino.
Duccio has fun at the Teatro Regina Margherita and nurtures a passion for botany at the Giardino SottoVico. Little Aisha loves observing the sky from the Osservatorio Polifunzionale del Chianti. For each of us, regardless of origin, there is value in growing up in such a welcoming territory. In every corner of the Chianti your small dream of love and union can come to life. Just like mine and Selma’s, which celebrates 50 years this year.