Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Sounds of Cervinara

In Il Postino, one of my all-time favorite films, Mario Ruopolo, the main character played by the late Massimo Troisi, is a mailman for Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet who was living in exile on a small island off the coast of Naples.  Mario, an uneducated yet sensitive soul, is befriended by Neruda, and this friendship awakens Mario's need to express himself both poetically and metaphorically.  When trying to explain what his island home means to him, Mario takes Neruda's tape recorder out to record the sounds of his island; the waves crashing on the rocks, the wind blowing through the shrubs...
This scene came to mind yesterday morning, our first here in Cervinara, as I stood on the balcony, closed my eyes and listened.  Birds were chirping in the nearby trees, singing a welcoming good morning call.  There was a soft breeze that rustled through the leaves of the chestnut trees.  The gentle ringing of the bells on the herd of goats coming off the mountain blended with the din of a chain saw.  These are the sounds of Cervinara.
Later in the day as we wandered through the market, there was the call of the vendors pointing out their produce or their special sales.  There was the clucking of the chickens near the stand of the bird vendor.  There was the chatter of the ladies as they dickered over prices and gossiped among themselves.  These are the sounds of Cervinara.
The church bells that awaken the baker's dogs at 6 am and set them to howling, the whine of the weed whackers as they clear the vacant lot next door, the cheerful greetings as the bar regulars appear for their morning shot of espresso, the intonation of the faithful as they say their daily Ave Marias.  These are the sounds of Cervinara.
If I could record for you the way Mario Ruopolo did for Pablo Neruda, these are the sounds that would be saved.  If I could share with you the peace that comes with these routine noises, both pleasant and annoying, you would know why I keep coming back to this nondescript corner of Italy. If you could join me on my balcony early in the morning, feel the breeze on your face and hear the sounds of my town coming to life, you would understand  what pulls me back here, year after year.  Until then, my friends, I hope that you all have sounds in your lives that give you that same peace and pleasure, wherever you may be. 


  1. Grazie per "sentire" così la MIA Cervinara. Grazie. Anto

  2. Your description of the sounds and feeling invokes lot of memories for me of the places I've visited and lived. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I've been following this blog since it's inception when I stumbled upon it only weeks after returning from Italy and visiting the village of my ancestors, Cervinara. Now when I write to my cousins in Italy, I tell them what I know of what's going on in their town based on what I've learned on this blog. Thanks for allowing me to stay connected! I just can't get enough!
    Maria-Caterina Marro
    Rutland, VT USA