I always thought that my Pergola had so much to tell me: high-sounding stories of men of letters, partisans, singers, painters, soldiers of fortune.
People who have given prestige to our holy Pergoletta, who entered history with a capital ‘H’, and brought some of us into the world.
But over time I have also listened to the stories told by the old people, when gathered together, on improbable seats, they rattled off anecdotes related to their past life or told me mischievous little stories, spoken in a low voice with the bright eyes of youth.
At other times, absent-mindedly, they would mention to me more or less spicy gossip, to me who was a bad girl like many others who wandered through the alleys and around districts.
Of these unconscious storytellers, you always found some, climbing from the Birarelle towards San Francesco.
And my Pergola always has found something to tell me even with the aromas and perfumes, when closing the shutters in the evening the scent of the river rises up to my window and intoxicates me.
A wet and strong scent, a scent of water and earth, to remind me that the Cesano river will nevertheless pass under the bridge in front of the Church of the Tints, whether I want it to or not.
That water will run just the same towards the sea coming down from Monte Catria, regardless of me or any other Pergolese, and that once the last loop is turned, it will welcome its trusted friend the Cinisco and together they will reach the Adriatic.
The scent of a river that becomes ‘stunned’, when in the spring, acacias, jasmine and elderberries join its ancestral and primordial smell.
Aromas that change with the seasons.
When at Carnival the sweet fried Cresciarelle and Castagnoli, and the aroma of melted honey from Cicerchiata, saturate the air and impregnate the clothes dotted with confetti.
Or when, at Easter, each house smells of Crescia with cheese, and the open windows spread an effluvium of sweets and traditional scents in the street.
Or even when, in autumn, passing in front of the houses of each district, during the cooking of the Biscuits with Must, it is impossible not to guess what is being prepared.
Or on Sunday morning, when you feel the unmistakable fragrance of stewed meat sauce for the tagliatelle, or that of a baked pasta dish that contends for cooking with a nice roasted chicken.
And if at lunchtime you have not yet returned home, hearing the familiar clatter of forks and knives, skewering and cutting, actual and poetic noises together on the plates, makes you bless the roof that awaits you and smiling you stretch your pace.
Wandering around my Pergola, I can still feel or imagine distant smells.
Those of my childhood when a thousand shops exhibited the goods on their counters or on the shelves. When I was shopping with the bag and I asked Mum to buy me Snoopy honey biscuits at Botegone.
While passing in front of the churches, sometimes closed, you can perceive, together with the same stale smell of old and uninhabited houses, a hint of incense to remind us that faith has always accompanied the life of us Pergolesi and that in the name of this we have done great things, built places of worship worthy of note, with various and varied architectures that not even the numerous earthquakes have ever totally knocked over.
Because yes, Pergola can list all the upheavals that Mother Earth has reserved for her and that she has undergone, with tenacity when she stood undeterred, with some scratches when she gave up some wall, with cracks when the shaking was well directed.
My town does not like the noise, that leaves it to others; at times she seems reluctant to rebuild, only to find herself more modern than she thought.
My city remembers the wealth of the past, but hopeful it moves towards the future, uncertain like all the things to come. It has not forgotten the suffering and abundance, the big and small showers and the victories, it simply does not show them off, it keeps them to itself.
Pergola always has a story to tell, if you have the patience to wait for the right moment, the curiosity to go beyond the apparent decadence, and the desire to understand the reason for the things and character of the inhabitants.
Like a lively granny, peeking (looking) in her sinalone (apron) will bring out small treasures and great wonders.
And it will give them to you with a smile of a young bride, caressing your face like a loving mother, and it will begin by saying: Once upon a time …