Nei primi giorni
dell’anno 2020 (-21)
un virus sconosciuto
proveniente dalla Cina
semina disagi e tanti morti
in tutto il mondo.
Anche il Palio di luglio e di
agosto non fu corso.
Questa pietra vuole ricordare
questo brutto evento.
Siena 2020

In the first days
of the year of 2020 (-21),
an unknown virus
coming from China
is spreading sickness and so many deaths
Even the Palio of July
and August was not run.
This stone wants to remember
this ugly event.
Siena 2020
Any Italian knows, with the experience of three thousand years, how to cope with social trauma: put up a memorial stone to it! And one man of Siena knows how to make clear the severity of the trauma: Even the Palio of July and August was not run!!! Nothing like this has happened since the victory of Montaperti over the Florentines in 1260.

The plaque is on the wall of Vicolo della Fortuna 9, in the Jewish neighborhood, the Panther contrada, one of Siena’s seventeen traditional districts whose riding teams test their skills year after year in a horse race to commemorate the victory of Montaperti. The coats of arms on the plaque also emphasize the excellence of the Panther contrada and the unity of Siena.

Above the door of the workshop under the plaque, the coats of arms follow each other in reverse order: first the symbols of Siena, then the crowned panther. Marble restorer Emilio Frati is a local patriot, but a world citizen. During more than fifty years of work, he has been involved in the restoration of a number of outstanding monuments, including – overcoming Montaperti – the Cathedral of Florence, but now he has been working on the Siena cathedral for several years. He scrolls through the photo album The marble floor of the Siena Cathedral. “I restored this, and also this…”

In his workshop, beside the copies of the restored medieval monuments on many different scales, he also offers modern themes, still lifes, Siena souvenirs, and stone inlays of famous football players.

“Why did you put up this plaque?” “Because I think this was one of the most influential events of recent years, but we do not have any collective monument to it. Look, WWI had forty million victims. They have a monument in every single village, recalling their names, one by one. The ensuing Spanish flu had one hundred million of casualties, but if the press had not brought their memory back during the current epidemic, no one would know about them. Siena was the city hardest hit by the black death of 1348-1349 in Europe. It is fitting that at least here we should have a memorial plaque to the black death of 2020-2021.”