Civil spirit

Castelmuzio is a hard-to-find small borgo, a little walled town, on the map of Tuscany. It has three dozen houses and two hundred inhabitants, but there is everything there for a proper little Italian town: a small square with a medieval church, narrow streets with vaulted passages, and, of course, cats. It has a monastery that was the location for some key scenes in The English Patient, and has a city wall of Etruscan origin, with a beautiful view over the hills of Val d’Orcia, where scenes from The Gladiator were filmed. And it also has something else.

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At the southern end of the city wall, where the entire valley opens up in front of us, down to Pienza, there is a small square, with iron tables and chairs. I’m looking for the bar to which they belong, because it is obvious that in a pragmatic place, a pragmatic entrepreneur would have long ago taken over the spot in collaboration with the local government, so that people could enjoy the gorgeous sight only in exchange for proper consumption. But I find no bar. Instead, I find a sign that tells us that the inhabitants of the borgo, the borghesi, have created, on their own initiative and expense, a civic salon on this little no-name square.

“This salon was dreamed and created by local citizens and entrepreneurs who believe in cooperation instead of apathy, in culture instead of disrespect, and in love instead of selfishness. A place where we can meet, talk, be silent, and think, and where our gaze can be lost in the green sea of the hills, where «to be shipwrecked is beautiful» [quotation by Jacopo Foscolo].
The Civic Salon of Castelmuzio”

On the little square, free wi-fi and free holy water help one to connect to invisible networks.

And something else is also free.

One of the two tables has a basket full of peanuts. At first glance, it seems like someone has left it behind. But a sticker on the table informs us that this is not the case. This is the peanut basket of the Civic Salon, which is constantly refilled by the salon for the occasional visitors.

“The peanuts are a donation from the Civic Salon of Castelmuzio for everybody.
We say thanks to the signora for not emptying the contents of the basket every morning into her own bag.”

Which also proves that civic culture has its own enemies, against whom it is necessary to constantly defend its achievements. But they obviously cope with them.

1 comentario:

Anónimo dijo...

A beautiful text about a beautiful place where people with beautiful souls are living. By the way, the quotation (inexact) is from "L'Infinito" by Giacomo Leopardi: "il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare". Best regards.