Ghivizzano is noted for its castle and walled borgo. But that is only half the story. At the end of the 16th century the Republic of Lucca decided that the castle was redundant and this gave its inhabitants the chance to expand outside the walls and build a second, more convenient, Ghivizzano on the river plain along the new road and, subsequently, the new railway. Now the majority of Ghivizzanians live in this area (formerly known as “l’osteria” after an inn in that locality).
In 1930 the present church of the Sacred Heart was built and this is where our choir practices and where the majority of services take place. The church is not the first monument one yearns to see when visiting Ghivizzano – it’s a barn-like edifice with booming acoustics and somewhat naïve frescoes but with some nice stained glass windows including one dedicated to St Maria Goretti. (In case you didn’t know Ms. Goretti is a virgin–martyr of the Roman Catholic Church, and one of its youngest canonized saints (1947) who died from multiple stab wounds inflicted by her attempted rapist after she refused his advances in 1902 – highly topical in view of the fact that feminicide is rampaging in Italy with, on average, one woman killed by husband or lover every three days!)
The church, however, serves its purpose well as it did this Sunday when our choir sang in a Mass commemorating the Festa degli Anziani, or feast of the aged. During the service the priest gave extreme unction (the ultimate sacrament) to old people (and anyone else who desired it) by drawing a cross in blessed oil on the forehead of the supplicant and reciting a catholic mantra. Extreme unction is normally given to those on the point of death but may be received by anyone who is threatened by disease or simply the daily turmoils of life.
After the Mass the old codgers (tut-tut – I might soon be one of them!) were to be entertained in the new parish centre, opened in 2002, also the social, cultural and recreational heart of Ghivizzano – a 900 sq. metres complex which serves its purposes well (comprising the annual dinner given to all those who have contributed significantly to the glory of Ghivizzano – including our choir, as we deliciously found out last year). Those over 90 years old are given a special mention and certificate.
Our choir sang brilliantly as ever and I took the chance of taking the following picture of this devoted band which includes one who has been a member for sixty years. The sacristan, a sprightly veteran of well-over eighty, presented me with a little book on Ghivizzano which, with its annual living crib, norcino festival, recently-restored castle, song of the Befana and “night under the stars” in summer is livelier that one would at first think. Certainly, the old castle quarter is well worth visiting with its unique fortified gallery, keep, walls, pieve and picturesque streets.
In case you missed the television broadcast of the Christmas concert, in which our choir performed, at San Francesco Monastery in Borgo a Mozzano here is a chance to hear it again.
(PS Ghivizzano was once also noted for its “Cinema Modernissimo” in which we attended a Benigni film some years back. The ticket-seller, the projectionist, the pop-corn vendor, the usherette and the owner were one and the same person and I felt that he could also have been the blanket-distributor for it was bloody cold that winter when we were part of the – indeed the entire – audience).
On the way back I passed Fornoli where the Sunday fair was, regrettably, somewhat of a complete washout due to the persistent rain. O dear, haven’t we had enough of the wet stuff!