Old Calabria By Norman Douglas

 -  I am weary, just now, of these
structures; the spirit of pagan Lucera - Lucera dei Pagani it used to
be - Page 9
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I Am Weary, Just Now, Of These Structures; The Spirit Of Pagan Lucera - "Lucera Dei Pagani" It Used To Be

Called - has descended upon me; I feel inclined to echo Carducci's "Addio, nume semitico!" One sees so many of these

Sombre churches, and they are all alike in their stony elaboration of mysticism and wrong-headedness; besides, they have been described, over and over again, by enthusiastic connaisseurs who dwell lovingly upon their artistic quaintnesses but forget the grovelling herd that reared them, with the lash at their backs, or the odd type of humanity - the gargoyle type - that has since grown up under their shadow and influence. I prefer to return to the sun and stars, to my promenade beside the castle walls.

But for the absence of trees and hedges, one might take this to be some English prospect of the drowsy Midland counties - so green it is, so golden-grey the sky. The sunlight peers down dispersedly through windows in this firmament of clouded amber, alighting on some mouldering tower, some patch of ripening corn or distant city - Troia, lapped in Byzantine slumber, or San Severo famed in war. This in spring. But what days of glistering summer heat, when the earth is burnt to cinders under a heavenly dome that glows like a brazier of molten copper! For this country is the Sahara of Italy.

One is glad, meanwhile, that the castle does not lie in the natal land of the Hohenstaufen. The interior is quite deserted, to be sure; they have built half the town of Lucera with its stones, even as Frederick quarried them out of the early Roman citadel beneath; but it is at least a harmonious desolation.

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