Mystic Moment in Santa Fiora –  Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yesterday we took a drive towards Mount Amiata because Wendy had spotted an article in the NY Times about a village in Italy that on their feste day adorn the streets with flowers.   So even though the piscina at San Giovanni Terme Rapolano beckoned with their open into the night hours we set off to find the town mentioned in the article, Piancastagnaio.   Soon after traveling south past Radicofani we turned towards Mt Amiata.  Piancastagnaio is a wonderful medieval village and we will definitely go back and explore it some more but we were unable to find our strada di fiori.  A quick inquiry at the tourist office revealed the problem.  The town we wanted was Saragiolo a frazione of Piancastagnaio.  So we set off quickly and after seeing some beautiful mountain scenery we were realizing we must have somehow missed the turn for the Mythical Sargiolo.   But now we were entering a new town called Santa Fiora.  that looked very promising.  We crossed a large ravin bridged with a modern bridge which led to the main porta of the town.  Things were certainly happening here.  Beyond a small mercato we could see a large group of young brass players.  It turns out that Santa Fiora was hosting its Italian Brass Week Festival.   As we got closer we were enthralled with the energy and high musicianship of these 20 or so young Perugians.   The name of the band is P Funking.  I have a sample of them below.

After a few minutes of high energy music from the stage they leapt off  and like the Pied Piper of yore marched the crowd out of the piazza.  We fell in step and were treated to a rollicking version of the Bar Kays Soul Finger when we settled in at a different piazza.

It turns out that Santa Fiora has more to offer than great music as we found a chiesa, Sante Flora e Lucilla, that contained really remarkable work on a grand scale by Andrea Della Robbia.   And if you walk down, down out of centrale you can find the beautiful parco La Peschiera, with small entrance fee of one euro, that has a beautiful pond.   At sunset it really was stunning as you can see from photo heading this entry.

We thought our day was over and were happily  heading home when candles in the dark of night revealed what we had missed on the way to Santa Fiora.   Only now, because of the illumination, on a piccolo strada, could we see the flower strewn street of Sargiolo.   As we exited the car a choir could be heard from a distance.     It seemed to be coming from above our flowery street.   We walked upwards admiring the flower mosaics the towns people created.  There was Adam discovering his nakedness,  Eve and the serpent,  an annunciation scene.   It really was beautiful and now just when you think it can not get more sublime our choir was in candle lit procession towards us.   We stood aside and enjoyed watching the old and the young united in carrying out a tradition they have probably carried on beyond memory.

Now we contentedly headed home again having had a marvelous time while “lost” in Sant Fiora and “found” in Saragiolo,  with the lesson relearned that their are no wrong roads taken, and certainly no road that is not improved by a carpet of flowers.