Chapter #1

My name’s Montalcino

I’m a young lad of the land and of the stones, as tall as nine towers. I go around with the vines around my neck and an oak belt about my waist. I’m 800 years ago. But don’t be scared, this is my home, maybe a little taller than usual. And elegant. With a green beard in the spring and must in the autumn. I go around saying “Mì”, a little Etruscan cry of wonder that makes women sound like birds when they say it. It means, “Look here”. I’m in a garden and there’s a gust of wind. Strange, because the leaves on the trees are still. I know it happened, I know. It was the air from my nostrils...

Chapter #2

The Fommei sisters’ lounge

Among the old furniture, the light is yellow. Hello, I’m Ada and there’s also my sister Marghe, she’s upstairs, she’s coming down now. You know, we did a man’s job – we were dressmakers. Here’s Marghe. Good day, I apologise that we’re at sixes and sevens. But no, you’re both beautiful! No, no, we’re not? You can’t tell them how lovely they are; they can’t hear you anyway. Ada laughs. She says, “Marghe can’t hear either. I’ve got a hearing aid, but it doesn’t work. Look, when I take it out, it whistles. Tiiiii. She laughs. Marghe beckons me over, so over I go. She whispers, “I’m 91, Ada’s 85. I’m worried that I’ll die before she does.”

Chapter #3

The lady gamers

At the start of via Castellana, where the road and the grassy walls drop down like they’re deranged, you find the brick doors of the old garages. From here you can explore the allotments and heads of lettuce. Inside one of these garages, when it’s neither raining nor snowing, old ladies sit at a table. You can hear them, “maremma, maremma”. They play at cards in the garage social club. At night the game ends, they pour around the demijohns and say goodbye to one another, raucous as if they’d been to a football match. “Oh, see you next time,” says the “landlady”. “Yeah, Nini, we’ll play again, but listen darling: you got bloody lucky.”

Chapter #4

Goodnight lads

Another day has ended. When it’s dark and the bars have pulled down their shutters, the last few groups are standing around the tables and say their goodbyes. But they don’t leave. I wait on the top of the belltower for them to take their leave, and when the town is hushed I swoop down and wander around without worrying about anyone seeing my stone torso. Can you hear my voice? I chime. That chime is really something, so I do it again to mark half past the hour. Everyone in the town, in bed or watching the television, they nod and think, “Goodnight all”.

Chapter #5

Montalcino and all around: a film

On the edge of the town, the night comes first. A traveller walks down the main road, he wants to circumvent the day. At 2am, they are kneading bread at the bakery. At dawn, in the piazza the street cleaner buzzs. The bar’s lights come on. At 7pm, the tobacconist opens and the pharmacy’s shutters go up. In a creek the railway yawns. 8pm, a river of cars as the kids go to school. 8.30pm, nature transports colours to the painter. A lunch in the farmyard would be nice, a train slides through the villages. 6pm, women make cookies at the hotel. It’s night-time, the fortress fades away.

Photo by: Alessandro Schwed