This is not a cliché.

June 2018

01 June 2018

Spritz: really a bliss?

Long live beauty then: both of nature and of persons.
The lack of manners, the shouting out loud, the absence of a ‘please’ or a ‘thanks’ have all become quite common unfortunately, but there is always a however ...
“A spritz, waiter", shouts a young lad in the direction of the bar, this prior to sitting down. He sits down, and then his girl likewise, both just opposite me, outside of the music bar, this place once frequented by the Etruscans, they lovers of all things good. As the spritz arrives, the lad orders "some crisps" from Stefano, he our long serving barman. It appears to me that the young lad must have sprung out of some 18th century novel, a time when nobility felt no need to say either ‘please’ or ‘thanks’ to the domestic staff. The lack of good manners, the tendency to shout out loud, the absence of a ‘please’ or a ‘thanks’ are unfortunately not uncommon occurrences. Similarly, the order of one of these modern spritz drinks should not surprise us greatly, even if for a cultured bartender to serve a classic aperitif or a house specialty would give far greater satisfaction than serving that simple drink already mentioned and which seems to have spread everywhere one might go. The lad who sat down before his girl did not contemplate giving her a hand or providing any assistance whatever as she then took her place, he far too busy eyeing his mobile. Such behaviour has little impact on the ever-smiling Stefano, he too familiar with similar demonstrations of behaviour. What I found particularly strange was that the young couple who sat down had no thought for the magnificent view the location offered. In fact, they had their backs to the amazing countryside all around. I, myself, was sat at a table a little distance from them, my Martini dry perfectly prepared, shaken and stirred and accompanied by a proud fleshy olive of Luca origin, the Santa Caterina olive. The combination of place and drink was special indeed and made the moment a real precious one for me, a moment of pure indulgence for me. The moment for my two younger companions was a very different moment. Lord knows where their thoughts were, certainly they were not focusing on the World Heritage landscape. Whilst the rays of the afternoon sun lit the hills and showed them in a soft tender light, the two youngsters had their faces in the direction of the wall. Maybe it is that the blankness of the wall is simpler to contemplate than the immensity of the natural setting. As I was reflecting on this point another couple took their places and the scene was more or less identical to the previous one – two spritz, mobiles in hand, and their chairs turned towards the bar itself. I did not and do not want to get involved in questions relating to the lack of sensitivity of persons, but when shortly after a group of six persons arrived, they all of a certain age, and I observed that not one of them noticed the perfect line of cypress trees set in a scene of great beauty, they not too far away at all, and the presence too of a perfectly full moon beginning to rise in the sky and having a pinkish shade to it, captured as it was in that instant behind the Radicofani tower, then I really did understand: beauty is in the eyes of the individual. Beauty corresponds to the authenticity of our human destiny, a beauty which presupposes the undisputed fact of our individual liberty.

The unmissable Sunday homily of Don Luca in the small church dedicated to Santa Caterina of Siena in Bagno Vignoni the day after confirmed the doubts I had: how often do we see and not look? How often do we speak and not hear? Or maybe we do hear but we do not listen to. How often does it happen that we do not have the capacity to appreciate about that which has happened, or about the positive things which happen around us? A sunset viewed with the sun slowly disappearing is an intangible benefit which cannot be compensated for by any material benefit. Yet there are some who would put such in doubt or yet again are so distracted by an air of general nothingness that they do not realize anything anyway.

The day after I got up early in the morning, went outside, and walked in the direction of the rising sun. The morning mist was rising gently from the hills and then, over there, high up, between the line of cypress trees and the casolare, I saw them: two couples standing still and contemplating the rising sun. I had a flash of hope all of a sudden, for there are people who look beyond the garden wall and contemplate beauty. And what if they were to be the two couples I had seen the day before? Perhaps I had judged them too quickly, taken up as often I am by my daily concerns. And to give myself hope I can say that we are made up of moments, circumstances, and all moves along so fast, proceeding on.
I then met six rucksacked persons, of a certain age I might add, and stooped to chat. They were following the via Francigena as far as Rome on foot. Modern day pilgrims! Maybe they were the same group of six who were sat outside Barrino the night before. I would like to imagine it, to hope it. Maybe I am too quick in reaching my opinions. And it is really true what they say - that in these times beauty is to be found in the antipodes of a reality with which we must come to terms with. Long live beauty then: both of nature and of persons.