The majority of the research I did while in Filignano was focused on an awful period in Italy during the Second World War. After the Allies moved up through Italy towards the end of 1943 from Sicily, they fought their way across the Winter Line. They moved into Filignano and the surrounding area in December 1943 and stayed there, firing over the mountains towards Monte Cassino, where tens of thousands of men were killed. After the Allies had secured the area (and later, further north after Cassino was secured) Moroccan soldiers fighting for the French Expeditionary Forces rampaged through the Italian countryside raping, killing and pillaging in Mediavel fashion, what in Italy is referred to as “Marrochinate”. They targeted men, women, children of all ages, and even animals. It is estimated that over 3000 people fell victim to the actions of the Moroccan Goamier soldiers. It isn’t a well known incident, and indeed the Moroccan soldiers were instructed that if they achieved their military objectives, they could do what they want, and no-one would remember. I found out about the sculpture below, before I left for Italy. It is called “Mamma Ciociara” and is meant to commemorate the protective actions of mothers in the region. I couldn’t find out who the sculptor was, but it seemed strange to me – I think the statue seems pretty sensual – the mother is wearing a skin tight dress, which is coming off the shoulder, and behind her, her daughter can almost appear to be penetrating the mother. It didn’t seem particularly respectful to the women of the time and the bravery they showed during the abuse (which in some cases saw soldiers returning to villages, night after night for a month). But perhaps I am misunderstanding the situation and Italian expressions of admiration for women. So, I went and visited the statue, up in the hills of a small village called Castro dei Volsci. There is a more impressive film dedicated to the time, featuring Sophia Loren, which can be seen/downloaded for free here
While I was in Filignano, it was the annual “Mario Lanza Festival”. Mario Lanza was born here, actually, he wasn’t, his mum was. Well, actually, in a near by village. Anyway, every year they have concerts by local amateurs and professional musicians held in the piazza outside the church.
The classical concert that was performed by the professionals (from the Ukraine I think) was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – now I am by no means a big classical fan, or knowledgeable about the music at all, but I’ll tell you what, the Autumn Allegro is a good wee tune.
Here is the view from my apartment window, a fat balding frenchman on a balcony.
and here are some landscapes from in and around the village.
I was recently lucky enough to be asked to visit Filignano in Italy to do some research. Its a tiny wee village in the region of Molise, about 2 hours from Rome. It lies on the edges of the Abruzzo national park, and was also right on the Gustav Line during WW2. These first images were taking during a religious festival (I forget which one, but the church goers carried a statue of the Virgin Mary through the village for a bit). The village itself was home to a frightening number of Scottish people, as a large proportion of Glasgow’s Italian families emigrated from this area.
Today and yesterday we did some filming in the infamous wee red barfor a new video for “Heather the Weather” which we’re going to release as a single sometime after October. The immensely talented Rachel Maclean is making the video for us, and I don’t want to say much more about it yet, but here are some images anyway….
Got a new book, lovely 1945 edition of Hans Holbeins Windsor Drawings. I have always loved the confidence of line in his drawings, and only learned relatively recently about his techniques using some kind of light box (see David Hockneys investigations in “Secret Knowledge” on youtube) – I think these sorts of things should be taught in schools so kids don’t have unrealistic ideas about artistic genius – and also to help them make beautifully delicate drawings like these.
Last night I went to see Field Music play at Sneaky Pete’s – i must say it’s been a long time since i saw a band that excited me so much – they were complex, upbeat, smart, proggy, oddball, pleasant and understated. Kind of like the best bits of Yes condensed into 4 minutes instead of spending 20 trying to find the good bits. And i wanted to dance, but I couldnt as some large man was very close to me and kept breathing on the back of my neck through his nostrils. What was best, was that the gig made me want to seek out the music, and work it out. I cant really recall any particular parts of anything, but I know i was into it. Thats difficult to achieve – subtle desirability. Thanks to Owen for introducing me to them (not literally).
Recently I got a 2nd hand Diana camera from a friend for 50p – i thought it would be shite, but actually its turned out ok – as long as there’s enough light, it seems to do pretty well, particularly with landscapes. Unfortunately, during this trip to Skye, I wasn’t allowed to visit McCafferty’s Laughter Barn. If anyone has ever been there, please, tell me what goes on in the Laughter Barn….