A surprise and delightful visitor to Bellaugello yesterday afternoon was Signora Maria Pannacci
Signora Pannacci is a wonderful sprightly eighty-something year old lady who lived with her family from 1934 until 1963 in what was then the farm of Bellaugello. She was part of a family of sixteen who lived in the lower part of the house, the upper storey being occupied by another family, and together both families worked the 53 hectare farm. Maria’s family lived in what is now the Specchio and Diva Suites, she remembers the large kitchen in what is now the specchio Suite with stairs going up to a now demolished upper floor, and her bedroom looking south over the Chiascio valley in what is now the Diva Suite, with the lower floors being given over to the cows, sheep, pigs and hens that the family had.
With a clear memory Signora Maria described how they carried water up from the spring some 200 metres below the house, in Brocca or jugs held high on their heads, how she was in charge of the young children who played in a fenced off area outside the kitchen door over what was and still is the oven and now the terrace to the Specchio Suite(the heat of the oven keeping the children and babies warm on chilly winters’ days) and how she was married at the age of 18 with her parent’s consent, leaving from the house.
Her memories also ran to the names of the fields, in her days every field was under cultivation, latterly most put down to tobacco, glorious names as Cenderoso, Fonte, Coste, San Angelo, Trocciola, Caldese and Nespola, vivid memories and a joy for me to hear. Sadly there are no photographs of her time here, the family did not have a camera (a wild luxury afforded by few) and the Padrone never brought a camera on their frequent visits when they came to collect the rent, which of course included much, if not most of the farm produce.
Signora Maria now lives in Florence, her late husband Tognoloni Iginio withthe wonderful sounding ‘sopranome’ Caprocceli sadly passed away some years ago, but still her verve, vigour and joi-di-vivre were a wonder and a joy to behold, and her visit a very welcome surprise and a substantial addition to the recorded history of the house and farm.