Three hermits first lived in that yellow house across the road in 1682. It adds a splash of colour to the view from our breakfast nook. Now Ivan and his brother live there. They are migrant builders from Albania. It’s really nice to have them in the neighbourhood to do jobs that involve ladders and cement.
There is an ancient church “Sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Acqua Santa” in a grotto beneath the yellow house. Riccardo Tuccimei, the highly annoyed and hated nobleman who once lived in the house, demolished the bell tower. It was lovely with lots of small bells. Now we have one medium-sized bell that wakes us up on Sunday mornings.
But the story of the Church still rings with ancient mystery, and one such story is – a long time ago a man on his way to Naples lost control of his horse. It went galloping down the steep road and around the awkward corner. A beautiful apparition suddenly appeared. Actually it was the Madonna herself, holding out a bowl of water.
The horse immediately stopped to drink and the man was saved from an unfortunate accident. He gratefully proceeded with his journey but that night, in a dream, the saintly lady appeared to him again and told him to go back and look in the bushes there. He went and rummaged around at that exact spot. Ho hey! Lying in the bush was a beautiful fesco painting of the Madonna and Child! The experts have dated it to 4 AD. Although it has been touched up a few times, it is still mesmerizing on the high Altar of this grotto church.
If you get down on your knees in front of the Altar, you will find a trapdoor in the floor. Open it and you’ll find a well full of miraculous water. You can scoop it up into a cup with a long spoon. We sometimes join the nuns for the Procession of the “Madonna dell’Acqua Santa”. Everyone gets a tiny bottle of water to take home.
Home is where we will be until the end of April, although next week certain shops will reopen. Bookshops and childrens clothes. After 31 days in quarantine the kids have grown out of their clothes already! Simon went to the shop yesterday according to the roster (first letter of the surname) and the lamb was sold out. No baking powder either. He came home with a shopping bag full of spinach.