We first went to Lucoli several years ago to meet our new friends, Fabrizio and Emanuela, for Sunday lunch. My son drove us out from L’Aquila. The road wound up into the hills and we were, very soon, in a beautiful verdant place. I was struck by how quiet the world became just a few miles from the city. After a long and delicious lunch in the Macondo Restaurant, that hugged the side of the road, in one of the small villages that make up Lucoli, we stopped at our friends family home. There, we climbed down a small incline to pick apples from trees in a little orchard overlooking a beautiful valley. Across the garden, we heard a dog bark as it kept a group of sheep together.
We did not return to Lucoli until 2010, a year after the earthquake. The land was still beautiful, although now achingly so, as it was marked by destruction. Whole towns lay in rubble, and so many buildings were boarded up and closed to inhabitants.
On that trip, I visited the Abby of St. John the Baptist and wondered if it would be possible to restore the damage that had been done to it. There was a mass taking place outside the Abby, and the lovely space where the Garden of Memory now is was filled with hundreds of Abruzzesi Communion went on for what seemed like forever. Priests were stationed throughout the grounds, and a procession of the faithful moved silently toward them to the sound of otherworldly singing. I knew then that the Abby, as well as the whole of Lucoli, would some day be restored.
That night, Dan and I marveled at how wonderful it was to see so many stars in the black sky. We fell asleep to the song of a nightingale. Sometime towards morning, an owl called.
|Un tramonto estivo foto di Gillian Nevers|