Oh Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be left behind?
Oh wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far away?
(To Percy Bysshe Shelley)
The sea in winter. It is not just a song by Berte', but an invitation to visit the bay of Portonovo especially in this season. It is then that this place loves to reveal its genius, the soul of the place, the little spirit that shows itself only to the chosen ones . And it enchants us with its beauty. In my blog I will talk a lot about beauty and its healing function for many ailments. Those able to perceive it more than others can testify to its ability to cure restless souls and all sorts of investigative fevers, "beauty stops the movement" wrote Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae. Perhaps of all the sins committed by man, the most deadly is indifference towards this Goddess.
So take the road to Portonovo and make sure it's a beautiful, windy day with a decidedly stormy sea. Obviously, also cover yourself very well. Park the car wherever you want, there's plenty of room, and above all decide where to start. There are three places full of charm and I wouldn't know which one to recommend first, it also depends on what you plan to do: if you plan to stop for lunch then perhaps I would start with that jewel of Romanesque architecture which is the small church of Santa Maria in Portonovo built by the Avellanite Benedictine Monks (of Fonte Avellana) in 1034, so magnificently preserved, can you think so? thanks to a landslide on Monte Conero in 1320. It was therefore abandoned because it was impracticable and this allowed it to avoid those manipulations that men and time make inevitable if the building is put back into use. So much in ruins that it was forgotten for five centuries, until a superintendent in 1800 (Luigi Serra) and Giuseppe Sacconi, the famous architect of Marche origins who designed the Vittoriano in Rome (yes, the author of the "machine to write” is from the Marche) to provide for its restoration. Thus, immersed in the fortunately untouched Mediterranean scrub (and here it makes me think that the spirit of the place must have a lot of tenacity) this church reveals itself in all its enchantment. What more can I say? Try it too, let yourself be inspired, go around the church and breathe the salty air, admire from the back the enchantment of Monte d'Ancona, as Monte Conero was called in ancient times, a waterfall of greenery that descends to the sea from 500 meters above sea level. “And the eternal helps you” quoting Giacomo Leopardi. A plaque inside cites a passage from Dante's Divine Comedy, the XXI canto of Paradise, indicating one of his illustrious guests: San Pier Damiani who lived here in cenobitic retreat together with San Gaudenzio, according to the rule of the Benedictines of San Benedetto da Norcia .
A pause of 5 centuries and then the awakening again, like the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. How beautiful!
After this visit, walk north, following the main road, given that the state of the sea does not allow a walk on the shore, at the first crossroads turn towards the Portonovo Tower, walking a short distance through dense and thick forests of holm oaks and pittosporums you arrive at a magnificent building overlooking the sea, built by Pope Clement have a greater view of the sea from north to south. Also a sort of lighthouse, possible?However, we are at the beginning of the legend, the idea of pirates already fascinates me and is a prelude to the myth, to stories of men who break the law out of hunger or greed and turn from fishermen into criminals, and which transforms the bay itself like a place full of lived lives that it would be wonderful to know and explore if not invent. The Tower was then purchased in the nineteenth century by Adolfo De Bosis. Who was De Bosis? A very sensitive and cultured man, nicknamed "Prince of Silence" by D'Annunzio, a shy and worldly character at the same time, capable of bringing together poets, writers and painters in a magazine he founded in 1895 in Rome, "Convito" which Croce supported since its debut, and which counted on names such as D'Annunzio, (who was also a guest in the Tower), Carducci, Pascoli and Scarfoglio, as well as graphic illustrators of the caliber of Lawrence Alma Tadema and Giulio Aristide Sartorio. But above all he loved Percy Bysshe Shelley to the point of becoming his translator, and the life of this poet is already a novel in itself, believe me, set between England, Scotland, Ireland and Italy, where he lived together with his second wife Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of Frankenstein , who defined our homeland as "a country where memory is depicted as a paradise". His son, Lauro De Bosis, also a beautiful poet and writer, died at the age of just thirty, sinking into the sea off Corsica after throwing thousands of leaflets praising freedom and against the fascist regime. Every year, Harvard University, whose chair of Italian literature is named after him, awards a postgraduate scholarship of 50.000 dollars to the most deserving students, the Lauro de Bosis fellowship. * (don't you fear death? It doesn't affect me/ as long as there is life we fight and then... peace!/ My fate, any, I want! (Icarus) The Tower is still owned by the De family Bosis and can be visited by appointment. Nice huh? There would still be so much to tell but I prefer that you, if you want to delve deeper, delve into the many and many stories that belong to this place and there is no time because the day has yet to end with a third monument to visit: the Napoleonic Fort. Go back and take a long tour, get back in the car if you don't want to continue on foot because, unless you know how to climb the paths of the thick holm oak woods between the Torre car park and the path that leads to the Piazzetta, not all They have good legs and orientation skills. In summer it would definitely be easier, but it always depends on you. The Napoleonic Fort is the last stop, if you also want culinary, and there is nothing more fascinating than having lunch inside a fort, equipped with an ancient fireplace located right in the center of the room which always remains lit , a traditional fireplace, no forced draft heat pump or other modern technical devices. Even more fantastic when you hear the sound of the wind and the stormy sea which doesn't seem to affect the construction in the slightest. Let the wind whisper and the sea speak, the forces of nature are unleashed and we remain to listen, at the Fort we speak in whispers. Built around 1811 as a French outpost to prevent English ships from docking and stocking up on water from the Source (where the Hotel of the same name is now located) at the behest of Viceroy General Beauharnais, it also hosted up to 600 soldiers. Its high walls of Conero stone arouse "gothic" emotions in me: images of soldiers and stranded ships, shipwrecks and once again pirates. Like a novel by Daphne du Maurier from which Hitchcock made a film Jamaica Inn with the splendid Maureen O' Hara. While having lunch by candlelight, the charm of the structure involves you and envelops you in an atmosphere of other times, the best thing would be to be able to listen to music from the grand piano placed there in the room, and perhaps you would feel like you were participating in a film, set in the XNUMXth century: intrigues and injustices perpetrated by the military against local fishermen, disliked by the French because they were in favor of the Pope, a man unjustly incarcerated in the dungeons of the fort...On the other hand, the summer season is still far away, the noisy tourists are fortunately somewhere else and the genius of the place expresses itself with all its ardour, giving us authentic moments suspended in time.