From My Tuscan Window

Chapter 63
I Wanna Go Home
It was Sunday afternoon. I was sitting on the Palazzo loggia staring blankly out toward Castruccio Castracani’s tower looming over Ghivizzano and then up toward Coreglia degli Antelminelli. Way down in the valley, I began to hear music wafting up on the warm updrafts. Someone was singing, “I wanna go home, I wanna go home, oh Lord, I wanna go home.”

“What the hell!” I said out loud to myself as the singing continued. “Last night I went to sleep in Detroit City and dreamed about those cotton fields and home. I dreamed about my mother, dear old pappy, sister, and brother. I dreamed about that girl who’s been waitin’ for so long.”
“Sue, get out here. What the hell?” I exclaimed. “What are Mel Tillis and Danny Dill doing over here, breaking up my train of thought and making me think that I have been transported back to some Honky Tonk in East Texas?”

“I wanna go home, I wanna go home, oh Lord, I wanna go home.”

Then I remembered that there was supposed to be some kind of festa (festival) with horses down by the river below Ghivizzano, which was being sponsored by the Agriturismo Casale Il Ruscello. Before now, any event I had ever heard of or seen in Italy with horses in it, had been associated with the Middle Ages, such as the Palio (horse race) in Siena and the dozens of other medieval festivals that occur each year throughout Tuscany.

I should have been hearing bugles blowing and the beating of drums, not… “So I think I’ll just take my foolish pride and put it on a Southbound freight and ride and go on back to the loved ones yes, the ones that I left waiting so far behind. I wanna go home, I wanna go home, oh Lord, I wanna go home.”

Had I looked down at the Serchio with my binoculars I could have seen horses galloping, but not toward each other with riders carrying lances as in the type of tournament that should have been being held beneath Castruccio’s castle. These horses were galloping around barrels! By this time, Sue was gathering up the camera and tripod and was chomping at the bit to get down to the valley to see the horses. She had been missing her four Arabians and one quarter horse… “the ones that (she) left waiting so far behind.”

Down the mountain we went. Just on the other side of the bridge to Calavorno, there was a tiny cardboard sign with the words “Natura e Cavalli” (“Nature and Horses”) scrawled on it and an arrow pointing left. We drove through Calavorno, Ghivizzano and all the way past Piano di Coreglia and saw no evidence of a festival or of a horse. Turning back to Ghivizzano we asked a man where the campo sportivo (sports field) was, the only place such an event could be held.

Twisting and turning down several narrow lanes, we finally came to what we thought was the right place. There was a little building where wine and beer were being sold. An elderly man was playing lively Italian music on an electric accordion, and several couples were dancing and weaving. Two horses were tied to a nearby tree. One was a Shetland pony, and the other looked like an Arabian mix. We thought we had arrived too late to see the horse action.

A huge brindle American Pit Bull walked up to me for a sniff and a pat on the head. His owner walked across the field in front of the dance floor and toward an opening in the woods. We followed out of curiosity. When we got to the other side of the opening through the trees, we found another field, this one with at least 20 horses and riders. Country music was blaring out of two loud speakers. Jeeps and horse trailers were lined up back by the riverside. Beautiful girls dressed in jeans, Western shirts, cowboy hats, and boots were mounted on fine prancing horses, taking turns barrel racing. A concession stand was selling Western saddles, bridles, saddle blankets, boots, bits, halters and other accessories that one would find at any East Texas saddle shop.

I looked up to my left at Castruccio’s castle looming above me, and there on the mountainside to my right was Palazzo Margherita dominating Gioviano. My head was spinning. The contrasts were too bizarre. Here we were, the only Texans at the event, and yet we were the only people there who didn’t look like real Texans--especially me in my sandals and Hawaiian shirt. I guess with my long white hair I could have looked a little like Willie Nelson.

The lyrics of country singer, Roger Miller, followed us as we left. “Trailers for sale or rent, rooms to let fifty cents. No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain’t got no cigarette. Ah but two hours of pushing broom buys an eight by twelve four bit room. I’m a man of means by no means, king of the road. ” I was cracking up by then, grinning like a Cheshire cat at the rodeo on the Serchio.

Updated December 22, 2009
Copyright 2005-2009 George H. Russell
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