Greece in Italy, or A Great Silence (Translated by Theodore Ell )

Piero Bigongiari


Little walls nibbled at by time and overhead the great Baroque skies of the Tavoliere.12 Cerignola, an encampment dominated by a pointed dome. Long wave landscape, with light olive trees mingling among cypresses. The rain showers on the horizon recall with the columns of light through the gloom the appearance of God to Saul on the road to Damascus. The cypresses live among the olive trees when these are light, as in Tuscany: they are absent when the olive trees are dark, as on the Tyrrhenian slope of southern Italy, as in Calabria. Already here one senses the Orient, and immediately the plain unleashes fantasy, in the colours of the houses and in the sky which rests like a dome all around the flat horizon, so that at once the mind is lightened, uplifted by the sky’s games, when man seeks on the horizon something to limit or liberate himself. The cathedral of Trani, standing on the shore, beside the iron-grey sea, and high above there are the crows with their compact and slow flying, cawing now and then, waiting for the ancient crusades. Meeting us as we head for the South, on fields of red earth, we find great olive trees contorted, rickety, twisted ike Bernini’s columns of the canopy of St Peter’s. The Salento13 has an air both tragic and content, with this scrub of olive trees along centuries-old paths: true smoke clouds after an explo - sion; and it seems for a moment you are deaf. In some the red earth climbs the gnarled trunks as though to parallel, with its indistinct centuries of fertility, the rising from the abysses of time of that colour which is now becoming lighter, but which is only ever a reflection of the original flame.

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