Iron and Stone Chapter 2: Stone
From the front walk of Laurence Love’s beautifully restored farmhouse near Treia, we could see the Sibillini Mountains in the distance, and closer, a small mountain topped by what looked like a tall, slender spike or piton. Among the myrid tidbits of interesting information Laurence shared with us, he insisted that if we got to the top of that hill, and saw that torre or tower, it would be unlike anything we’d ever seen. Guaranteed. I was a little skeptical.
After we talked iron and rock and roll and Le Marche for a couple of hours, Laurence sent us off with directions to the torre (and a stop at an agriturismo for lunch). We found the agriturismo easily enough, but there was a sign on the neat little farmhouse: “Chiuso per lutto.” (“Closed for mourning.” Sorry for your troubles.)
So we went off in search of the torre. Laurence had pointed out the mountain next door to the torre and said the view there was almost as good. Almost. As it turned out, we took the wrong road and got to the almost-mountain first. And the view was spectacular, actually looking down a little on Torre Pitino. We backtracked and eventually made it to Pitino.
The last bit of road still held snow and Clio the Renault slipped and slid a bit as she carried us to the top. Laurence had told us incredulously that “they” (not sure who “they” were) stabilized the ruins, put in a new roof on the church, new windows and a locking front door and then left it wide open. Sure enough, the church doors were wide open, I followed piles of cow poop into the sanctuary and was amazed that I was all up in it. No fences, barriers, velvet ropes. Just me and this thousand-year old church and ruined village.
There’s not much of artisitic value left to see inside the main church (except the architecture itself), probably because it had been open to the elements for so long. Wandering around outside, I came to the tower, some 25 meters high and six meters wide at the base, tapering as it rose in to the bluebird sky. There are no ground-level doors, so I couldn’t get all up in it. But I could get all up in the two-meter wide stone city walls. So I climbed up and walked around a bit on the battlements… a dream come true for a kid whose childhood fantasies often included castles in faraway lands.
I explored a side chapel and found one faded fresco.
I wandered around the side chapel gazing upward. When I finally looked down, I discovered I was standing in a pile of bones. I couldn’t identify them but hoped there were of one of the cows who pooped in the main church. Our friend Enrico told me the next day that his father (a doctor) used to go with his medical school colleagues to collect and reassemble human bones at Pitino for their anatomy class. Turns out they date from the Napoleonic Wars. Gulp. I was glad I had resisted the urge to take a photo… just seemed disrespectful somehow.
Anyway, the view from Torre Pitino was all that Lawrence had promised and then some. We could see the snow-covered peaks of the Sibillini mountains in the distance, and the beautiful Le Marche farmland all around. We could also see a wall of weather approaching from the Adriatic to the east, a portent of the rain we had the next day. Lawrence had told us hardly anyone goes there anymore, and we were indeed the only ones exploring, which was kinda nice. It was a quiet, windswept, cold, beautiful, contemplative adventure. We basked and warmed in the glow of our discovery all the way back to Paterno.