This is a strange period.
We are all locked in our houses, we have time to reflect on ourselves, our relationships, the world around us, on what we are and what we would like to be. But this is not always an easy "pastime" ... however, it has reminded me of an equally strange and decisive period in my life.
It was early June 2014 when I discovered that my marriage, on the threshold of the silver wedding, was over. I felt the need to move away from the house where I had spent the last 20 years of my life. My son was already living on his own, so was my daughter and I would move.
No particular place, a bit of a random search, because the period and the situation did not allow a clear mind. In these moments you can have various experiences, you can make meetings good or bad and I met wonderful people!
I'm was curious about an ad for a house for rent in Cartoceto ... I had to go and see where it was. I had heard of it, but I had no precise idea where it was.
Towards the end of August they gave me an appointment to visit the apartment and together with my daughter I went to see it and made two discoveries: the first, that the owner of this house is a very interesting and extremely available person. The second, that the village of Cartoceto is built in its oldest part within the boundary walls that are inaccessible to the machines.
We therefore parked outside the walls, in front of the parish church of Santa Maria della Misericordia, and we set off along narrow streets, stairways and walkways towards the house to be rented.
So I discover that the whole town of Cartoceto is nestled in the olive groves that spread a deep sense of peace, serenity and tranquility. Here, the olive trees, after the sea, are my greatest passion!
We met Enrico, the home owner and discover a precious jewel: inside the city walls, in the centre of the ancient village of Cartoceto, practically above the ancient Teatro del Trionfo, there is our new nest.
We have no doubts even for a second, neither I nor my daughter.
An enchanting apartment on two levels, with a mezzanine and stone walls, renovated respecting the ancient and the modern architecture. An affordable rental fee as well as Enrico's overwhelming friendliness and helpfulness did the rest. In mid-September we become part of the Cartocetan community!
We arrived in a particular period for the village: two years earlier, due to persistent autumn rains, a large part of the walls had collapsed, making the houses located above those walls unusable, eliminating the places that overlooked the ancient square and removing the town centre.
We took possession of our new home, furnished it, made it our own and in the meantime discovered what surrounds us.
In the morning, when I go to work and in the afternoon when I return, I meet a gentleman with a white beard and Einstein hair. After two days, he, curious who had settled in his beloved country, stops me, greets me and welcomes me. He introduced himself: Vittorio Beltrami the poet of cheese, owner of the old oil mill in front of which I pass twice a day.
He inquired if we were there to stay or just the usual tourists, who maybe buy a house and then disappear for the rest of the year. The news that we intended to stay comforts and cheered him up: the town must be alive and lived in!
We talked and he told me about his passion for his territory, his love for this land that has always cultivated and respected.
Thanks to him I now know the extraordinary goat's and pecorino cheeses of Fossa and I learned that in Cartoceto cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil has been made since 1300. I learn that at the opening of the ripening ‘pits’ he organizes a festival to taste the delicacies that have matured there. The festival is announced by the aroma when the pits are opened. I hear that finally, in 2004, the DOP milestone had been achieved for Cartoceto oil, which he still squeezes today.
He proudly declares that to date it is the only DOP of the Marche region!
In November we are involved in and overwhelmed by the Oil Fair, which for days attracts many people even from afar to taste the new oil, to browse the stands of the fair, where delicacies of all kinds are offered: truffles, honey, oil, pork butchers, cheeses, jams and lots of artistic crafts.
A large entertainment program mobilizes the entire population of the village, which also turn out to be restaurateurs who let you taste the best home cooking that they can churn out. Of rare beauty are open houses and buildings that normally remain closed. The whole town participates in the event making it true and current.
I must say that this place so ancient, so rooted and in any case so enjoyed and participated in, took me by surprise. With long walks in the company of my dog, sometimes even quite demanding for the hilly area, I explored Cartoceto and its surroundings with great wonder and amazement.
It is a place that has welcomed me at a particular moment, has been able to give me the tranquility and balance I needed and made me rediscover time with an ancient flavour, slow flow, added value.
Even today though I no longer live in Cartoceto, going up the road that branches off from the ancient Flaminia consular road, the view of the village nestled like a crib in the olive groves and the surrounding hills, welcomes me with a deep sense of peace and gratitude.
Sure I can define Cartoceto the place of my heart.