I’d met him several times at the osteria. We were eating in the back part and he was in the larger room, where the fireplace warmed the room. Even though he worked frequently at the Bellosguardo villa, I’d never seen him before.
Enrico Caruso wasn’t just a name or a voice. He was a legend. A celebrity that lived in that spectacular villa, far away from the modern world. I had to consider myself lucky because I carried out the villa’s stone balcony, just on the border of the tree-lined boulevard.
In that place we appreciated the joy of silence. Eating alone, now and then chatting a bit with the host. Once I’d seen him speak with a man who seemed almost like a begger. But he had a wide forehead and severe, austere eyes - characters that in general the poor don’t seem to have.
Dino, they say, was a writer. A reserved yet wild fellow. In the days that followed the two were seated together at the same table, one dressed in a double-breasted coat and the other in a dark shirt. It was a curious looking pair, attractive, an oblique diversity that you saw in just one spot.
I was a woodworker, my own family coming from a peasant background. In the town there were really only two jobs, apart from working with straw. I worked in the mine, or sometimes at home. It might have been an artistic job, but I quickly understood that we worked more to get the project done than for the shaping of our souls. When I saw them there, seated together, my curiosity grew. I observed their gestures, their gazes, imagining words and music. At sunrise, when I went to work in the villa to do the final touch-ups, I met Dino, who was walking along the same road.
He was walking in front of me with hasty steps, his eyes empty. He immediately turned toward the boulevard that took you up to the entrance. I hid behind a hedge of laurel trees and saw him sit on the stone seats of the balcony. I’d sculpted them myself. It seemed like he was waiting for someone. Perhaps a woman. He leaned against the balcony and started to write.
From the villa you could hear some piano notes. He suddenly turned. Shortly thereafter the voice of Caruso mixed with the music. He began writing again. One page after the other, hungry for everything and for nothing.
A yellowed little book belonging to my grandfather was right there in the attic. From that moment forward I was passionate about Enrico Caruso
and Dino Campana. “We found some roses
and they were his roses, they were my roses, this journey we would call love…”
They were written right there. For vacation, I’d chosen Florence to look for a villa, a place, a time. It was there that he’d carried out a true work of art. As soon as I arrived I began looking for that balcony. It wasn’t easy amid so much beauty. A villa so splendid, so cherished; artworks that blended with the scent of the wild woods. There it was. I sat down on the stone—my own grandfather had worked on it. Caruso had been there, and so had a surly and rebellious poet.
I looked at those hills and took in the absolute stillness, that absorbing silence. I got lost in a distant memory. From the villa came some musical notes and a voice, a voice more beautiful than silence.