We arrived in Marta on Lake Bolsena at 5 just in time to go and see some evidence of the equestrian show in the evening and become familiar with the field for the Cavalli sul Lago.
There were many new faces but there is someone familiar who calls you by name and greets you with a smile. There are butteri (cowboys) with cloaks of all colours, so many ways of interpreting the Italian traditions that are still alive and present in these parts.
On the one hand there is a mule and two oxen that seem to come directly out of a painting by Giovanni Fattori a couple of centuries ago. And I immediately think of the fatigue our ancestors suffered … We are lucky.
You can sense the excitement of the evening in the direction, with the director Umberto Scotti who would like to have everything in order and the riders who would like to have even more time available. Maria Baleri, the presenter, learns hundreds of names and stories: she presents off the cuff, but spontaneity comes from professionalism.
Wandering around for the rehearsals and at some point, I am struck by a couple who are practising in the arena, a robust local buttero (cowboy) who expresses power with a Maremma saddle and a young girl with an English saddle that expresses grace.
In fact, the first thing that had struck me was the music: “something stupid like I love you …”, a song of 1966 brought to success by Frank Sinatra and his daughter Nancy but who was recently sung by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman. Sensual like few others.
The event had been announced as “pas de deux” or ‘Step of Two’ and the two riders ran and chased each other, sometimes holding their hands but always looking into each other’s eyes. One powerful and the other elusive.
I recognized the buttero (cowboy), Nevio Prugnoli, who held the reins with one hand and his other rested on his thigh with an attitude of ‘challenge’ or ‘aloofness’.
Of course, the butteri need a hand to manage the cattle but, let’s face it, there is a little feeling of being film-stars in their saddles. When they gallop their bodies seem to perform pirouettes in a strange form of “whirling grace”.
The girl had a thin but muscular body and on the English saddle she looked like a butterfly. Straight and upright torso, without vortexes. I wondered what an English saddle was doing in the arena at the time.
But the two were interpreting the song in too intense a manner … “something stupid like I love you …”. Were they lovers? It did not seem possible. Master and disciple? Too much intensity. A relationship of equal love without one of the two dominating the other is not that between teacher and disciple. I wonder.
I could not follow the whole performance, they were deciding how to get out of the action and we had to go take a shower before the evening. I had to charge the camera batteries and all the other things to get ready.
The night was coming and the curtain rose on Cavalli sul Lago.I exerted a little to understand where I had to put myself to better follow the show. The lights bore into my equipment and distracted me in my search for the right lens aperture.
Then suddenly Maria Baleri entered the scene and announced: ‘A Two Step on horseback interpreted by Nevio and his daughter Margherita’‘.
Now I understood everything!!
What a fool: here is the love that united their eyes, here is the joy of holding hands at a gallop, here are the two horses that face each other and meet without any real dominion. Perhaps horses also loved or reflected love.
The power of Nevio and the pride in his appearance were in fact the pride of a father who brings the bride to the altar. Nevio was dressed in elegant country dress and his daughter in a long dress, and she looked just like a bride, confirming my feeling.
And meanwhile the music “something stupid like I love you …” with the warm voices of Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman filled the air on the summer night in Marta on Lake Bolsena.
And now everything was back in harmony. Exciting like few others!