As a young child of six, everything had an impression on me. San Romano, my small Tuscan village in the Appennines Mountains near Lucca, was the center of my entire world. Everything that I saw and experienced revolved around the village.
During the time I lived in San Romano, the only way to get around was by walking. We walked everywhere. Our village had no drivable roads and the only way to get out of the village was by walking down hill to the ‘autostrada’, some 5 miles away.
San Romano is situated some 30 miles North-West of Lucca. Lucca is a very unique medieval town completely surrounded by massive walls; they are so massive that a two lane road now exists on top of the walls. The only way into Lucca is by one of the many wall doors still existing today. The doors are very large and I was told requires several people to move them; the top of the doors are shaped into an arc thus completely closing the tunnel during times of medieval wars.
I always saw them open ready to receive welcoming vehicles. Once inside Lucca, the roads become very narrow and long with the main road called: “Fillungo” meaning “Long String.”
I was born at home; my mother and father lived in an old medieval house near the center of the village. Here the homes really resemble today’s condominiums; they are all attached in some way or other. Next door was a newer building used as the village theatre on the lower level and the upper level was to be our village school.
The building had been built with donations from someone that used to live in the village and had moved to America. This person was very interested in plays and acting and wanted to contribute his passion to his beloved village.
The building was not finished and it needed the upper floor for the school.
My vivid memories are still with me when I saw all of the able men of the village carry the long steel beams on their back up the 5 mile stretch from the “autostrada”. When they reached the top piazza and needed to turn, it was a sight that has remained with me all these years. They looked like ants carrying a gigantic load all in unison.
All the able men worked on the school project, I remember their happy faces, the chatter, and the hard work. These were all the men in the village working together as volunteers for a good cause; to build a school for their children.
During the final plastering of the outside walls, I remember my cousin Bartolo showing me a small glass ball with a small village inside; he shook it and immediately the glass ball became full of falling snow. He made a hole near the right side of the main door and carefully placed the ball inside; making sure the village was visible. He then plastered all around it and carved the number “1953” below. I have never forgotten that moment.