San Clemente, California, USA

Alba Farfagilia,

We took “the scenic route” through northern Tuscany from the Pisa airport. We passed flowing meadows of sunflowers and green vineyards. The Tuscan hills were crowned with picturesque towns and cities. We stopped in Volterra for a light lunch and took pictures at the grandiose Roman theatre. We drove along the winding roads toward the southeastern part of Tuscany. As we came over the mountain toward Mercatale, we saw the silhouette of the Rocca di Pierle against the evening sky. Every time we come to Vagli the sight of that old castle takes my breath away. But this evening it was even more spectacular because there was a big red-faced moon hovering over it.We turned left at the sign “Borgo di Vagli, Trattoria Icchè C’è, C’è – 2 kilometri.” We stopped at “reception.” Gianfranco was there to welcome us as he had done last year and the year before. He gave us the key to No 16, a two-story one bedroom stone cottage. We could smell the lavender and the rosemary that lined the path along the house – carefully tended to by Quarto, the gardener, I thought. We could hear voices from the kitchen, the clatter of plates and silverware and the aroma of ribollita, the Tuscan vegetable soup, which cook Dina was preparing for Sunday supper.Yes, I had been to Vagli before, but I had never seen it as I did this night with the big red moon in the summer sky. We took showers, changed clothes, and got ready to join the other guests for supper, I looked out of the window to see if the red moon was still there, and yes, it was – “Sister Moon,” as St. Francis of Assisi called it, a bit smaller, but still shining brightly above and close to the castle. And through the ages, how many people might have seen a red moon over Rocca di Pierle? They could have been farmers, peasants, children, lords and ladies, clergy from the nearby11th century church of San Biagio. How many people had looked up and sighed in wonder? In 1567, the castle was demolished by Ferdinand di Medici on the pretext that bandits and assassins were hiding there. So, all that has remained for more than four hundred years is the enclosing wall, 15-26 ft. high, 2-3 meters thick. But in the moonlight, Rocca di Pierle looks whole and majestic, a powerful example of a feudal castle in Tuscany.We hear a lot about being “Under the Tuscan Sun,” but this night, it was the Tuscan moon lighting our way. We were at Borgo di Vagli under the big Tuscan moon.

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