He met her at the bus depot; she hadn’t aged a bit.
Her eyes were lit up and she was wearing one of her hats. They exchanged a hug,
a few nervous words; they were excited, but as they moved through Calenzano she
spoke to him about herself, her travels. He talked about the new city hall and
the newly restored square, the beautiful library, the university, the recently
formed church. Everything had grown, but nothing really
dominated the town, and they found it refreshing. “It’s the same sky I stood
under as a teenager,” he said, while she looked on beyond the town, where it
bent toward the hills.
They kept moving upwards because Calenzano’s essence is its churches, each stone and each tree encountered along the way. The stillness brought them peace: the towers of the castle of San Niccolò, the cobblestones massaging their feet, the bare façade of the church, the Figurino Storico museum, and the pleasure of getting lost in medieval times. On the little hill in front the San Donato church stands tall, with its Medicean cloister, its bell tower and cypress trees all around.
“You can hear the voice of Don Milani” she said, and he was surprised to know about the seven years that Lorenzo spent there, as chaplain for the final few - overseeing both the people’s school and pastoral experiences.
And then they let themselves take off, with just their thoughts and two bicycles, pedaling just a little bit before turning into the green area of Travalle, at the base of Calvana. They peered in at the Strozzi villa, its charming garden and vineyards and olive groves, then headed north for the Gioriana di Collina and beyond, up until Legri, the Romanesque church of San Severo and the Guidi castle on the slopes of Morello. “Real cyclists climb the Croci,” he said; he’d gone there to enjoy a little refresh, but instead she’d opted for the ancient Settimello. They lay on the ground of the Neto park, among lime and cypress trees. They prolonged the silence and looked each other in the eyes. Were they both thinking the same thing?
"Of course, with grapes and olives we do
egregious things," he said. "Let yourself be pulled in by a glass of
wine, by the extra virgin olive oil of these rolling hills; or by the delicate
aromas of Leccino and Pendolino, or by the strong flavor of Moraiolo, or by the
one enveloping Frantoio - our varieties. Be drawn in by the images, by the
stories, and the hands of those who tend to each plant in each season, following every olive with passion, with
endurance through struggle, with love, until pulling off some “green gold” for
a ribollita dish, or drizzling it on a simple slice of bread, because hey, we’ve
got good bread, too.”
She licked her fingers.
"I could stay here for days talking to you, my friend.”
"Pour me a little more, will you?”
He reminded her that he still didn’t understand why she was visiting.
She took off her hat and looked off into the distance. “I’ve traveled so much…One day I’m going to also have to cast anchors.”
He held her tight, moved.“Here you already know good and well what you’ll find,” he told her.