In the memories and in the hearts of those of us who lived as “Cappuccini” in the 80s, the emotions experienced during our childhood and adolescence in our beloved Paliano are indelible.
This may surprise you … because it is easy to ask: “how could a poor and small town that in the 1980s was more populated by the elderly, based on agriculture and farming, could so much affect the lives of so many of us?”
Even more so my life, that I was a “foreigner” at home, having all my beloved paternal family in Paliano, but living in Veneto, this question can arise spontaneously.
In fact, there are three things that still today, after more than 40 years, allow me to give an unequivocal answer to this question.
The first is THE PEOPLE OF PALIANO apparently closed, rude and with grim facial expressions, but now as then, genuine, simple, lovable, united. Lifelong friends, and perhaps even more united today thanks to the beautiful side of technology which, despite having replaced romantic postcards and rare phone calls, today allows us to live the daily lives of each of us as a FAMILY.
The second is the CAPPUCCINI PARK, which for us was not just a place of fun … but a trusted, safe meeting point, a space in which to experience love, quarrels, schoolwork, songs, card games, night dances . A place that has seen some transformations but to which we remain linked now as then.
The third is the PAESELLO… Paliano hides a history and a mixed charm between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that very few people know. Some historical values (Palazzo Colonna, Caravaggio), a fascinating architecture that is breathed in its narrow alleys. A tourist potential still to be fully exploited… the Palio, the Open Cellars, the “La Selva” Park.
Those who have lived in Paliano and those who pass through Paliano cannot remain immune from everything that has been written here … so that the energy of a population can be breathed by walking through it, at any age.
The memories of my adolescence that bind me to the Contrada dei Cappuccini are too many and of a very different nature: from the most amusing to the most romantic to the reckless ones. Without forgetting the melancholy ones …
Perhaps one sums them all up: the day I became a Lazio fan.
One of the most reckless activities we liked to dedicate to ourselves as teenagers on summer evenings, was that of “disturbing” the caretaker of the convent located at the end of Via San Francesco D’Assisi (and which gives its name to the “Cappuccini” district) .
Many of us hid behind the trees that at that time lined the last stretch of the street before opening onto the church square and, in turn, one of us went as far as under the entrance portico to the convent.
Then, with a mixture of fear and unscrupulousness, he pulled the rope that at that time still made the bell that served as a call ring. Obviously, that gesture was followed by a general stampede with subsequent refuge inside the Park.
We all knew that a custodian was present inside the convent. A historical figure of the town who always went with three dogs on a leash with him: Atos, Portos and Aramis, in the name of the three musketeers.
One morning while I was sitting on the step of my house at number 60 (which was the step of the entrance door of the grocery store that my grandparents managed in the 70s / 80s and which supplied all the children who went to school in the convent) I saw the caretaker with his dogs on a leash emerge from the slope that then led directly to the convent.
Obviously the terror at that sight invaded me because the fear that the caretaker would recognize me as one of those naughty lads who disturbed him at night was very strong. Then I stiffened like a stone and looked down.
The keeper who reached my height from the opposite side of the road stopped suddenly and looked at me, asking me a dry question about football: “BUT YOU, WHAT TEAM ARE YOU?”
And there the fear of committing a fatal mistake made me give a single answer “DAA LAZIO”.
And he satisfied by my answer continued his walk towards Paliano leaving me with a simple “BRAVO”.
This memory contains all the emotions that I anticipated above.
The fun derived from sharing these stunts with close friends, the fond photograph was posted in the central bar of the village (together with photos of other historical figures of the town) and finally the personal melancholic ones linked to affection and love for that step.
The step that recalls the past when my family ran its grocery and tavern as I always say: PALIANO is everything to me.
Home, family and friends. Certainty, love and emotion.
Thanks Paliano. Thanks Family. Thanks friends.