Yesterday, after visiting a company in the Appenines, I stopped at the beautiful Romanesque church in the surroundings of Carpegna (the Pieve di San Giovanni Battista). Despite the two cars parked beside the church – which revealed the presence of other people in the area – I felt a strange uneasiness: an uncomfortable feeling of not wanting to be alone.
Was it the imposing mount of Carpegna facing the church? Was it the aesthetic rapture of the mix between the beauty erected by men and that displayed by nature?
I tried to step into the dark church but didn’t make it. I walked to the little cloister instead, holding my camera in my hand as if placing a screen between my eyes and the building could reassure me.
While taking pictures by the well, a young monk dressed in white (a Dominican?) and wearing sandals, got out of a door and came down the stairs smiling. I don’t know why but I felt the urge of justifying my presence there and said: ‘I just came here to take pictures’. He smiled and said ‘of course’. Then he disappeared and I soon heard the bells ringing.
He disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. This made me doubt for a second that what I had just seen was actually real.
Anyway, I headed towards the church entrance, determined to enter this time. However the sudden buzz of a bee, too noisy for my nerves, made me jump. It sounded as if someone had cut the thick silence all around.
What happened to me? I entered hundreds of such churches in Italy, even in much more remote places, and never felt that way.
Do I need some rest? Am I highly strung? Or is it that I’m not used anymore to being alone, by myself and with myself?
I had stopped to take pictures but that church really taught me a lesson.
P.S. A few days after publishing this post I found out that the monk was not a Dominican but a Benedictine (Monaco Benedettino della Divina Volontà).