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Pistoia – Gate to Tuscany 07/01/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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Pistoia, being one of the gates of Tuscany, should be seen at the beginning, never at the Auroral end of your errantry. I have been thoughts. lucky in this that not only have I seen it first, but that I have always seen it in early morning light, saluting the dawn, as I was doing. I saw it from Cireglio, after the long and painful traverse of the hills from Modena; I saw all the Val d’Arno lie below me like a carpet, with  Pistoia for a rose upon the intricate pattern – a blot of pink and purple in the vague bluegreen field. Little as I knew of it then – indeed, I knew nothing more of it than that pistols were called by its name – I could not fail to see it as the threshold of the enchanted land to which I was wandering, a pilgrim to its holy places. Through  Pistoia, Florence was mine, Pisa, Siena, Volterra, sea-washed Orbetello. The Arno, whose every stone Dante knew, lay in the midst of that brocaded plain, and into Arno flowed those rivers of lovely names – slow Elsa, whitebeached Sieve, Era and Ema, Evola and Pesa, names of very music. I need not say that I was very young; it is necessary to be that if you are to see Italy aright. Nor is it possible for me to describe with what drum-music of the heart I looked upon the vivid, sunlit glory to which I made my descent. Not only did it surpass promise, it out-topped the expectation, even the suspicion, of its glory. The incomparable freshness of every hue – the daring of a race of men who should wash their house-fronts orange or rose, who should paint them white and keep them at that bridal point – the effrontery and success of their building, whose farmhouses were like boxes, and yet picturesque; whose churches like barns, and yet venerable. Heavens! if I was ragged, rather hungry, a truant, without pence—what did these things weigh? Here was I, the bridegroom, before the unveiled bride. The nearing prospect of the little old city, dipped in green and gold – a dome of dusky red, a grey tower or so, weather-bitten passion to walls, something bright and clean, some prosperous air, touched and took prisoner my confidence. I became an ingenuous youth, and rightly so, before such engaging manners.

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