In Visso, “It’s Written on the Wall”
“It’s written on the wall” is the most apt expression to describe a wander through Visso, medieval hilltown not far from Norcia, close to the Sibilline mountains.
As you walk through this town of genteel pastel-colored palazzi, do keep your eyes on the lintels of the doorways: many are topped with dedicatory inscriptions or the coats-of-arms of Popes, cardinals or bishops, each of those laying claim to a municipal structure erected for the town.
As you enter the main piazza through the medieval city gate, you’ll see the oldest inscription on the wall next to the arched city entryway: 1256.
As you wander, you’ll see countless other limestone plaques, surmounting doorways, over the charming town porticoes and on the lintels of windows, with themes varying from a 15th-century family motto to a 16th-century plaque commemorating a respected city magistrate.
Heading into the winding backstreets, you’ll come across Elio’s house. He once owned the tabacchi/newsstand in the main piazza and is now retired but keeps active, riding his bike round the town then out the countryroads and also handcrafting wooden objects of all sorts. A group of his artisan wooden boxes hang outside his door, over his handmade windowboxes holding pink petunias and rose-colored and white geraniums and next to his mailbox faced with the transcript of a Giacomo Leopardi poem. Amazingly, tiny Visso boasts il Museo dei Manoscritti Leopardiani housing treasured manuscripts of Italy’s famous 19th-century poet.
Signor Elio’s boxes all hold brochures on Visso, maps for hikers, maps for bikers and town maps: all for free. Elio is a self-appointed volunteer tourist office with una grande passione for his town of Visso. The main tourist office on the single Visso piazza was closed when I recently stopped in with friends so grazie a Dio for Elio and his brochures – in the boxes on his walls.
Yes, in Visso, all is still written on the walls. Or – more aptly – what is written can be found hanging on the walls. Signor Elio’s wall.
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Read about Visso merchants post-earthquake