Back to work after a four-week vacation.
I feel blue – or should I say grey? As grey as this picture I took last Sunday at the beach, the day before going back to my jail (the office I share with my collegue has actually iron bars in front of the window, as our office hosted once a bank!).
In Pesaro I work in the so-called Jewish ghetto; to my opinion the most intimate and secret corner of the town. The sea is at a short distance. I cannot see it from my office but I know it is there, and that makes me feel at home. Close to where I work there is a steep narrow street taking to the Ginevra’s vault. Who was Ginevra? I don’t know but I do know that the building in front of the vault is one of the three sites in the region contending the scene of the murder of Francesca by her husband Gianciotto Malatesta (being the other two Gradara, the most famous one, and Verucchio). Yes, the tragedy of Paolo and Francesca (the same Francesca of the opera Francesca da Rimini by the composer Zandonai who – incidentally – became the director of Pesaro Conservatory in 1940). The same Paolo and Francesca quoted by Dante in his Divine Comedy.
On my way to the bar hosted by Casetta Vaccaj (the most ancient house still existing in Pesaro dating back to the XVth century), the souls of the two unhappy lovers seem to walk by me. That street is somehow a “haunted” street. At the end of it, on the left, you find Casetta Vaccaj and on the right, facing the little square, the Civic Museum. If you enter it and walk across the inner courtyard you’ll find on your right, hanging on the wall, the Medusa by Ferruccio Mengaroni. A tragic case of an artist killed by his own creation. As a matter of fact, the ceramic Medusa head fell upon his body, with a fatal impact, in 1925.
It is said that if you walk in front of the Medusa head, staring at her eyes, shifting from the left to the right, and viceversa, her eyes will follow yours. I tried it. It seldom works with me. However it works at its best if before the experiment I stop at Casetta Vaccaj for the rite of the aperitivo and indulge in a campari soda.
In the heart of the Jewish ghetto it is still possible, on Thursdays from June to September, to visit the synagogue from the XVIth century. The synagogue (Sephardic Rite) was built during the golden age of Pesaro, when the town harbour – enlarged by Guidubaldo II Della Rovere – gained importance over the southern one of Ancona. Two different doors open up on the façade (a bigger one for men and a smaller one for women) leading to the ground floor where the furnace, the well and the pool for purification rites are to be found. On the first floor the Prayer Hall with an upper gallery for the tevah.
The names of the narrow streets surrounding my office are really picturesque: via delle Scuole (Schools street), via delle Botteghe (Shops street), via della Battaglia (Battle Street), via delle Vetrerie (Glass makers street), via della Ginevra (Ginevra street), via dell’Abbondanza (Abundance street).
Each telling its own story. Just like the old lady with a hunchback that you meet at sunset feeding the homeless cats in via della Ginevra.