Fifty years ago a somewhat disgruntled teenager was recovering in a south London hospital after having badly fractured his leg in an accident involving ice (of which there was a lot during that particularly heavy winter). Putting on the hospital headphones he heard a song which was hitting no. 1 in the UK pop charts: “Please, please me” performed by four young lads from Liverpool.
The Fab Four returned last night – at least in sound if not in looks – in an extraordinary evening at Montefegatesi where the Beatles’ cover “Rooftop Band” entertained and exhilarated the inhabitants of this beautiful hilltop town (the highest in Bagni di Lucca comune) with one great song after another – songs which so many of us had grown up with, dreamt with and loved with.
Our short journey to Montefegatesi revealed an Apuan Alp skyline of sublime serenity in the setting sun:
In the village square, (where Garibaldi’s bust stands near the “hanging tree” where freedom fighters were killed by the Nazi noose in WWII), starting on a currently topical subject in Italy with “Taxman”, the “Rooftop band”, (who hail from Versilia and have even played in Zanzibar), performed songs from all the Beatles albums with absolute verve and stylistic integrity. Every song was a highlight from “A Hard day’s night” through “Sergeant Pepper” to “Abbey Road”.
The audience (of all ages, as is wonderfully usual in Italy) joined in dancing and celebrating.
The band played for over three hours and even that was not enough for us. Well after midnight the “Beatles” finally bad us farewell and thanked Montefegatesi for providing them with such a responsive audience and such a magical location. Their thanks were received by our heartfelt applause and cheering.
That night was also ” La Notte di San Lorenzo” (night of Saint Lawrence – or night of the falling stars) and the magic continued as we went home, with our Cinquina roof rolled back to reveal a sky, untainted by light pollution, filled with a myriad stars among which was the Medusa-killer’s constellation treating us to the Perseids’ meteor shower. We placed our wishes upon the falling stars, reminded ourselves of recent personal sad news (death of my younger brother) and returned home in a haze of nostalgia and reminiscences. .