Rain was almost falling horizontally as, early on Sunday morning, I scootered to the little village of Perpoli high up on Monte Perpoli, which is the mountain to the left of the gorge leading from Ponte di Campia to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana to sing with our choir of Ghivizzano for the Mass.
The morning had begun in dramatic wuthering-heights fashion with an incredibly noisy thunderstorm and a strong wind which brought down my terrace sun-shade (even though it was shut). But I, luckily, managed to get to the village through a “window” in the weather. Autumn had come with some vengeance and the road was littered with fallen stones and broken branches.
I’d never been to Perpoli before but I guess it must have beautiful views in decent weather when the clouds lift. About 25 souls live there and their houses are quite picturesque. Unfortunately, as with most of these photos, a lot of rain was falling on my camera – I must get an underwater one next time!
For the Mass, celebrated by Maestro Don Italo Bianchi (see more about him at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/another-global-village-of-music/ ), we sang Perosi’s O Salutaris Hostia, pieces by Frisina and Michael Haydn’s Gloria from his Missa Sancti Gabrielis.
The sermon was about the battle of the archangels against Lucifer which seemed actually to be taking place above us as thunder and lightning continued to flash, boom and roar above the tiny little church hidden in the mountain mists.
What with our singing of the Haydn in this remote mountain church I felt transported back to another age – it was really quite sublimely romantic and rather like being in a painting by Caspar David Friedrich
Meanwhile rain was entering the campanile, drenching the poor bell-ringers.
After the church service we were treated to refreshments and I got a chance to talk to the Maestro himself. Don Bianchi is actually writing something for us! With regard to his symphonic output he felt no.1 was the most successful. How many first symphonies are! (Walton, Elgar and Bizet come to mind.). Don Bianchi could only talk about South Korea (although he’d visited the infamous 38th parallel) where the musical culture both native and western is impressive. Who knows what’s happening musically in North Korea. More totalitarian marches or hymns to the dear leader?
Incidentally, Don Bianchi thought we sang rather well and, indeed, our choir was applauded at the end of the Mass!
Perpoli is actually built around a castle which is now a ruin. Two sets of concentric walls, still standing in part, defended it and there is a nice gateway.
Perpoli is in a highly strategic position and must have held the key to the entrance of the Serchio gorge in mediaeval times. Interestingly, when Gerry decided on a tactical withdrawal in the autumn of 1944 from the original Gothic Line he chose the same spot. Indeed, the church we sang in had to be largely rebuilt in 1949 following war damage.
I hope very much to return to this delightful village on a nice day when those views will surely be quite spectacular!