Memorials big and small in Pietralunga

(This post is from the evening of October 22nd)

I had been told that there wasn’t much to see in Pietralunga, my next destination, so I felt no great hurry to get there and look around.  I came downstairs to a kitchen empty of people but with a table full of things to eat.  The coffee that was on the table was getting cold —perhaps a sign that I had slept too long.  There were numerous jars of unidentified jams, for the most part unlabeled, except for an indication of when the jams were bottled.  On the table also was a stamp, so I took the liberty of filling out my pilgrimage credential and left money on the table, thinking I would just sneak out without bothering the family any more.  Tobias, the husband, caught me before I left, though, and documented my stay with a photograph.

The path soon led onto actual roads and passed through some very small communities and agriturismos in the hills.  Compared to other days, this hike was rather unremarkable.  The most interesting thing that happened was that I was passed by a man on a bicycle going incredibly fast downhill, and 300 seconds later and dog came running after him.

I got to Pietralunga a little bit after 1:00 PM and found my way to the hotel listed in my guide.  The door to reception was locked, so I rang the bell and waited for someone to let me in.  No one came, so I rang a second time.  I was about ready to look up the place’s phone number, when a ponytailed man came out of the next door bar and asked I were a pilgrim.  I was told to wait while he went back into the bar to get a key.  After returning, he led me into the hotel and took me up to a room on the third floor.  Pietralunga is built on the side of a steep hill, and my room—which was very high up—had quite view of the surrounding area.  It was strange to be in a real hotel room again after staying in the pilgrim refuges for the past week-and-a-half.  I was grateful to see that Pietrlunga had an actual grocery store.  They were selling many truffle products in advance of the truffle festivals that would take place at the end of the month.  Every sort of weird truffle mixture imaginable sat in rows of jars, but they were very expensive, and I wasn’t even quite sure how they would be used, so I didn’t get any.

I brought my groceries back to the hotel and went out again to take a look around the small town.  There really wasn’t much to see, except for a small church built next to the remains of a medieval wall on the upper edge of the settlement.  The church was rather plain on the inside, but the square outside was nice, with the wall serving as a backdrop.  In the square was a monument for the Pietrlungans who had died during the First World War.  Each face of the rectangular monument had the names of those who died in each of the war’s four years.  I was mindful of how this loss of life must have affected a community as small as Pietralunga.  When you think of World War I, you don’t necessarily think of Italian involvement in the conflict; but over the course of the war, Italy lost some 700,000 men, causing great hardship in the country.  Next to this monument was a large stone set into the ground that reads, “In memory of those who fell in the war from 1939-1945”.  This monument was almost covered up by a large bush that had been allowed to grow over it.  It is interesting to compare the pride of Italy’s contributions to the First World War and the efforts of the partisans in WWII to its relative shame for the part its fascist government played in the latter conflict.  Fallen soldiers must be honored, though, and the people of Pietralunga thought that this rather anonymous rock would do the job.

My evening of sightseeing had turned cold, and I headed back to the hotel.

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~ by pminnig on November 19, 2011.

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