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Our Family Fortress in Italy – Part 2

In this, the second part of the tale of my family’s castle in Italy, I’m going to tell you about some of the memories my summers in the castle evoke as well as the difference between summers passed in sunny Italy compared to the dull grey of the UK.

I have lived in the ‘Castello’ every summer since my childhood.  Books, hundreds of years old, their pages worm-ridden, yellow and parchment-like, line the bookshelves, Gothic lamps shed a dim and ghostly light along the stairwell.  The atmosphere of the castle used to perturb as a child.  As soon as I got there, I’d rush up the stairs as fast as I could to reach the safety of my room.  Today I am no longer so fearful of the eerie atmosphere and only feel the mantel of history around my shoulders.

At first when visiting the castle as a young child, I felt very alone and isolated.  I’d perch on a wall and gaze down at the other children playing in the piazza, their chatter and laughter reaching me on the breeze.  But I was too timid and scared to go down and join in their lighthearted banter.  My heart would miss a beat if I met one of them at the ‘panetteria’ (bakers) in the morning during the daily bread run…I was too shy to smile, but they knew who the ‘inglesina ’ was – the little English girl – who would spend her summers in their village.

Lorenza in her childhood?
Lorenza in her childhood?

Then one day when I was about 11, four girls appeared on the drive, they enticed me to go with them and I was swept into another world which changed my life for the next decade, the repercussions of which will ensure my love for the ‘Castello’ is passed down to the next generation.

The passage of time

As I grew older and reached that age between childhood and adolescence when romance seeps into our innocence.  The love in the air rather complicated matters as it always finished in heartbreak at the end of each summer.

Despite, or maybe because of the rocky ends to my summer romances, I was inconsolable at the thought of leaving my paradise and my magical existence to return to the reality of school in grey rain-soaked London.  The contrast could not have been more stark.

A Sunset Viewed from Our Castle
A Sunset Viewed from Our Castle

Back in London I knew I would yearn for those endless evenings spent just ‘hanging out’ in the piazza in anticipation of who would arrive that evening, which group of boys from which village?  What would we do, where would we go?  It didn’t really matter where we went –to me it was always magical, evening after evening riding over our hills, on the back of a scooter, with the wind in my hair thinking over and over, ‘this is a perfect moment, I never ever want it to end’.  All we had was our friendship, our sense of belonging, our love for each other, and of course – a vespa!  What wonderful times.

Blurred Memories

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The onslaught of time has blurred my memories and I can no longer distinguish events from each other.  But forty years on I still go to the ‘Castello’, this time accompanied by my own children.  My initials and those of a boy are still etched into the wall, the water pump still spurts intermittently into action breaking the silence, the ivy is wilder and taller, twisting its way up and into the cracks in the rocks of the castle’s walls, the peaches and the apricots are still squashed on the ground, the pine needles still clog up the car’s air conditioning.

But I have changed, and however much I want it, it is no longer the same.  I have grown up and moved on.  I cannot relive the past and it’s futile to think that I can.  Even if the place is the same, the ‘Castello’- impervious to time still perches there, the scent of the laurel bushes permeating the air, the spiders’ webs adorning every crevice, and the mosquitoes’ whine ever present – I cannot relive what has passed.   Sometimes I feel as though I am trying to find a perfect match when peering into a cracked mirror.  But for me, the edges never quite match up.

Part one of this tale is here.

Text and photographs by Lorenza Bacino.

By Lorenza Bacino

About Lorenza

Lorenza Bacino
Lorenza Bacino

Lorenza was born in Italy but grew up in London although she has spent most of the last 20 years living and working abroad before returning to London with her family. Her ties with Italy remain strong and she spends most summers at her family’s ‘Castello’ in Piedmont. The travel bug never really left her, and she can’t wait for her kids to be old enough for her to go backpacking with them. Ageing knees permitting of course.

Lorenza is a freelance journalist who has contributed articles to The Guardian.co.uk and she is available for hire. You can see examples of Lorenza’s writing here: Lorenza Bacino on Cuttings.me

You can contact Lorenza through her Linked In profile: Lorenza Bacino on Linked In

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