I’m hooked in to many sources of information, especially from the Lunigiana, where we live, work and play about half of each year. We love “discovering” things about our little wedge of far-northern Tuscany. Of course, we’re not really discovering them any more than Columbus “discovered” America. These things were always here, or so it seems. Now, with the Internet, they are exposed to the world, so that you don’t have to grip that steering wheel tightly in anticipation of guiding your car down a twisty, hilly, badly maintained road that will barely allow two cars to pass. When the bus comes, there is trouble, I can tell you.
Zeri, of which I speak, is a remote place, a loose federation of tiny villages, a part of La Lunigiana. It is perhaps the most remote part of a remote province. Zeri is known for the fine taste of its lambs, who feed upon the lush herbs and grasses of the sparsely populated mountainous locale.
Yesterday I found a video of the coro, or chorus, of Zeri, set against the backdrop of the mountains there. The members of the coro are dressed up, their feet firmly planted in the mealtime herbage of the legendary sheep. You can see and hear this all without leaving your chair. It’s quite impressive, actually. The video is here.
It’s a bit commercial, and whoever edited the video chopped off the ending, but you can hear one of the local traditions that you won’t hear on your local radio station. Ever.
So, why even travel? All you ever do is to slog through the underbelly of the place in search of things other people have already discovered. You could just sit at your computer and zip around the world as long as your internet provider will tolerate your use of your “unlimited” bandwidth.
Those of us who’ve been there and done that know that experience is a whole different thing. When I show you a video, I have cut the experiential part. Really. When I’m filming and somebody comes up and taps me on the shoulder and says he can show me something interesting that isn’t the subject of my video, I don’t put that in. But I follow him and devour the little bit of unusual life he allows me to see.
So, experience is what is found on the cutting room floor—if digital video had a cutting room floor, that is. For example, you know what tapas are if you research the country of Spain for a bit. You might even have experienced tapas in a sit down, dress up restaurant in the US. But tapas are not about sitting down or dressing up. They are about a set of social customs that require a participant. They are about a social occasion, a bringing together of diverse people over a bite of food and a glass of wine. If you do not go to Spain and experience this, you will never discover the meaning of tapas.
Our tiny village in the Lunigiana has its own local coro. We’ve seen them rehearse, or rather we’ve experienced them rehearsing. When you see the video, you do not see us tasting the home brewed grappa everyone brought for break time. Who would want to hold a camera when one could get happy happy on grappa with enough hebal infusion action in many that we were forced to try everyone’s grappa so we could be even happier?
We’ve also attended a concert that included other choral groups and a guy who read poetry that got raucous applause. Imagine that in America. It wasn’t the concert experience you get in the US; afterwards there was a free buffet dinner put on by the local women. No jello molds with bits of fruit floating sadly in oddly colored gel, but real, stick to your manly ribs food. Free. (See: We Won a Torta for details of the experience.)
So here’s the video: Il Coro Lunigiana in Rehearsal
I hope you’ll view it. I also hope it makes you long to experience it. It’s a whole different thing.