I woke up early to be ready for a trip to the beach. Yesterday we visited the base of the snow capped mountain called the Gran Sasso, to visit a town called Castelli. I learned in Castelli that its claim to fame is its incredible artisan ceramic works. Through the kindness of my host, Stefano’s friend, Benito, Spencer and I experience Castelli through the eyes of a local, getting to visit his mama, the best cook in the Abruzzo, at his home, go to a local ristorante, where he knows the proprietor, and his family’s, pottery studio.
Spencer and I really loved the tour of the medieval ceramic works called Vecchia Bottega Maiolicara. God knows how many generations of this family have been creating the most stunning ceramics from this studio but we found ourselves exploring several floors draped along a cliff. I go lost in translation but it was either 1400 years old or from 1400 AD. That means that guys like Michelangelo could have visited here, at this very studio to see a technique maybe. In
our idea of time does not reach back that far. Our oldest history that has
buildings associated with it are the missions…and they just aren’t very old at
all…late 1700’s is our best shot at antichi in California . California
“Artigiana” is the name for the potters at this studio. It seems to be a father and son duo in this incarnation. Artigiana even his elevated term does not seem to do their profession justice. They are far more then artists but truly artisans. Each vase has vibrant stunning Italian colors and each face on the Nativity set had a beautiful, stunningly individual face, set with majesty and grace in the expression.
To be accompanied by Antonio Di Simone, the younger of the duo, was a thrill. Imagine a suave and sophisticated character from a 1960’s european spy movie and you are close to his overall look. His work was amazing. He showed us medieval kilns, that took up 2 stories. The underneath was where you piled the wood to get the extreme heat needed to fire up the pieces that would be placed above. There were also plates of ground minerals in a delightful array of colors for use in painting the pieces in so many eye catching Italian colors…bright, happy but not garish. There were two pottery wheels that I saw. The old one had a simple mechanism run by foot while the “modern” wheel appeared to be electric, but I would feel better pointing out that it looks like the modern one was from the 40’s. Later Antonio drove past us in his older Fiat on the narrow streets of Castelli. He symbolized both
past and present to me. Italy
Castelli is one of the 4 ceramic art centers in all of
The area’s colorful pottery was reflected in the stunning array of greens and
colors all around in the nature from the town’s perch nestled in the cliff.
From the back terrace we marveled at the waterfall, the other terraces and the
incredible beauty all around this little village. Italy
We ate at a lovely restaurant called Ristorante “Da Iolandia” where I had pasta tortuffa and Spencer woofed down his gnocchi al sugo. Aaahhh, and the wine! It was incredible!! Everything about Castelli was incredible!
Today I woke to reflect. I dropped my classes and the responsibilities of my post foreclosure life…I know I should feel panic but all I can do is smile. I couldn’t help that there is no true and lengthy access to the internet, but I could be proud of realizing that this is where I am supposed to be. It is the most difficult thing sometimes to find yourself living your every dream….I could let myself be down about my appalling lack of money, (I didn’t even know if the restaurant meal would leave me without food money for the week!), but it is an incredible thing to know in your heart and soul that you are actually right where you were meant to be at this moment!
I have been asked if I am a Catholic while here in the
answered “no” and involved myself in a wordy college explanation that while
accurate, and it did explain that “I believe” did not actually commit to
The man who asked had already gained my respect and approval and it hurt me deeply to see his disgust at my answer. I suddenly realized that I was no longer in a college class and that this discussion was not about concepts.
When Francesca took my hand and led me to the town church, we passed Spencer and a girl his age from town, pointing to things as they walked and saying each aloud in their own language. They traded words with the ease and innocence of 11 year olds.
The little church was not little in my eyes as we left the sunshine outside to enter the calm peace and quiet of the inside. It was cavernous and lovely. It was filled with spirit, in the way only a small town church can accomplish. I could feel generations of townspeople pouring their love and affection on this holy edifice.
I openly wept at feeling the goodness that dwelt there. The ladies about me were touched. I fumbled uncomfortably for words to match my inner emotions. They asked me if I was Catholic. His time I had enough sense to answer with my head.
They smiled, kissed me on each cheek and made me know I was welcome.
Now as I write this sitting on the terrace in the warm sun, I can’t help but hear God. It is not in my studies or my textbooks, or worrying over my crazy life back home, where all I know, all Hell can be breaking loose. The voice of God can only be heard when I am doing nothing, il bel far niente, and feeling at peace. I have been here for days now and we don’t even know if here is a TV in this house. There are no distractions FROM God here in this town.
I hear the voice of God in the chirping of the uccelli and the light breeze that enlivens the trees all around. It is a whisper.