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Folk Tales in the Maremma 12/10/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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c. 1910

A story told to the writer by a charcoal burner in the great chestnut forest, which covers the lower slopes of Monte Amiata on the border of the Tuscan Maremma, has no doubt a Pagan derivation. In this forest far from railways the Barocciaio or carrier is an important person and the hero of many adventures. A barocciaio, travelling by night, came to a spot where his mules would go no further; looking around he saw an old man, who mounted the baroccio (country cart) and immediately the mules went forward. Presently they came to a church, when the old man said: ‘Go in and ring the church bells.’ The barocciaio answered: ‘Buon’ vecchio, the church tower will be shut at this hour.’ The old man answered: ‘Do as I say.’ So the barocciaio got off the cart and went to the church, and to his surprise the door of the tower was open, but in the doorway stood a great lady in a beautiful mantle with a child in her arms. She asked: ‘What do you want to do?’ and the barocciaio said: ‘Ring the bells’; and she asked: ‘Who told you to ring them’; he answered: ‘The old man’; and she answered: ‘If you had obeyed him, it would have rained fire upon the earth for three days.’ So he went back to the old man, who asked why he had not rung the bells. He told him what the lady had said, whereupon the old man cried ‘Maria! Maria! You are the stronger’ and disappeared.

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