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Jacques che beveva, ovvero “Chopin è anche francese, non solo polacco”

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Bar piazza Verdi

Mia madre ci diceva sempre che Chopin si pronunciava Chhhopin, perché il cognome, diceva, era polacco.

Ψ

Incontravo Jaques, un francese ultraottantenne, signorile, alto e bello, scendendo dalla casa di un amico che abita nel quartiere dei Parioli.

Jacques era infelice e alcolizzato.

Uscivo sul fare della sera – era primavera, gli oleandri erano in fiore – e fatte poche centinaia di metri me lo trovavo seduto a un bar.

[Vedi sopra, ma ha cambiato nome, MoR]

Beveva solo o assieme a una tedesca della stessa età, i capelli composti e gli occhiali, anche lei alcolizzata.

Ora, Jacques, la pelle chiarissima e gli occhi cerulei, era un tipo straordinario.

Brigitte Bardot e Jean-Paul Belmondo

Ex giornalista di Paris Match, aveva conosciuto il jet set parigino al tempo di Yves Montand, Jean-Paul Belmondo e Brigitte Bardot. Insomma la bella vita francese degli anni ’50 ’60.

Ψ

Il padre di Jacques era americano.

Mi sedevo accanto lui e parlavamo francese. Quando c’era la tedesca (colta e simpatica come lui) parlavamo in inglese.

Mi sedevo e bevevo vino rosso con Jaques. La tedesca preferiva il gin.

La salute di Jaques peggiorava ma l’anno dopo c’era ancora. Tra me e il francese era nata un’amicizia bellissima.

 

"Je suis tombée amoureuse de lui quand j'ai vu " à bout de souffle" pour la premiére fois". Source

“Je suis tombée amoureuse de lui quand j’ai vu ” à bout de souffle” pour la premiére fois”. Source

La moglie, una scrittrice ungherese di una certa fama, lo chiamava al telefono quando gli ultimi tempi lo portavo al mare e ci sedevamo sulla spiaggia a nord di Roma a mangiare spaghetti alle vongole e vino bianco ghiacciato di Cerveteri.

Lui le rispondeva: “Dove sono? Sono qui al mare con Giovanni, a ‘ faire et refaire le monde’ “.

Chopin. Wikimedia. Click for credits

Frederic Chopin (Thanks Wikimedia!)

Gli dico una volta di Chopin, per caso, che credevo solo polacco. Mi dice con autoironia:

“E’ anche francese”
“Non è possibile, è polacco!”

Il giorno dopo lo rivedo con un grosso pacco. Beviamo il solito vino rosso con cui si uccideva piano piano.

“Dov’è la tedesca simpatica che amava Carducci?” “Non torna più” detto con indifferenza ma Jacques non era mai indifferente.

Scarta il pacco. Era un gigantesco Larousse. Lo apre e mi legge con orgoglio infantile:

“Chopin era figlio di padre francese e di madre polacca”

[O qualcosa del genere. L'autoironia di Jacques era fantastica, viveva l'orgoglio francese e ci rideva su, non è facile da spiegare]

Ci siamo quasi piegati sotto il tavolo dalle risate. Una delle più belle serate della mia vita.

Ψ

Un anno dopo – Jacques non sedeva più al bar da tempo – incrociai la moglie a Piazza Verdi, non lontano dal tavolino dove avevamo passato momenti indimenticabili.

Gli occhi della donna, intelligenti, profondi, mi espressero in un lampo verde un intensissimo, muto dolore.

Ψ

[PS. In the upcoming week I will try to translate this post to English and / or to French. On va voir.]

 

 

Picture of the Day- June 6, 2014

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Man of Roma:

606x345_map-beaches

Italian American Rosaria has written on Facebook today:

“To our veterans:

You were willing to pay the ultimate price to defend the principles your country stands on. We are glad you came back to your home and friends. We are glad your life was spared, so that we can hear your story, of combat, of living away from the familiar, of worrying each minute of each day if you, or your comrades were going to make it out alive, if the war was worth all the pain and resources and damages it caused.

It is that story of courage and fear and …”

ψ

I had replied in my usual dialectic-moronic way:
[paraprased, since I can't find the original words in Facebook, MoR]:

Manius Papirius Lentulus

“Stai parlando dello sbarco in Normandia, oggi, credo. Anche io come italiano sono contento di quello sbarco anche se noi eravamo i nemici. In realtà gli italiani capirono molto prima dei tedeschi che Mussolini era diventato lo schiavo di un pazzo e fu per questo che se ne liberarono. Molti criticarono l’Italia per aver lasciato l’alleato germanico. Ma chi fu più etico, i tedeschi che obbedirono al male fino alle fine, o gli italiani, che rifiutarono il male?

Forse è un dilemma etico insolubile …[e poi un antico romano avrebbe fatto la stessa cosa dei tedeschi, ndr]“

Manius Papirius Lentulus

“Only one thing, Rosaria Williams, since the Romans are stubborn. I’ll speak in your maternal language.

Una volta nel mio blog parlai (it, eng) delle Torri Gemelle, the Twin Towers, viste dai tunisini e dagli arabi. Quacuno fu sorpreso? Non so. Ma tu dicesti:

“This post brings a new perspective to the problem of 9/11″

What is so new (I raise my voice for the sake of a discussion that will not occur, I shoot too many posts) dear Italian American woman?

For heaven’s sake, is it THAT hard to see things placing ourselves into the others’ boots?

Gli Americani pensano ai loro caduti, ok, ma perché non ai caduti (to name just a few) inglesi, canadesi, indiani, tedeschi, marocchini ecc. ? E RUSSI? The Russians? 20 milioni di morti! Non saranno loro, forse, ad aver sconfitto Hitler, mi domando? PLus, why don’t Americans care too about the deaths of the losers?  (Italians, most of the French, the Germans, the Japanese?) Because, as protestants, the losers are in hell? [changing the text altogether, MoR]

US President Barack Obama flanked by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski attends the Ceremony at Sword Beach to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion at Normandy. Gettyimages, click for source

US President Barack Obama flanked by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski attends the Ceremony at Sword Beach to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion at Normandy. Gettyimages, click for source

Speaking of Italy, my country was accepted this year in Normandy for the first time.

Originally posted on Natalia Maks:

Commemoration of the D-Day
IMG_9266 copy

View original

La morte è la vita. Il perfetto è l’imperfetto. Devinez (ἀληθινὴ ὃρασις)

1215487572_n

“Una bellezza perfetta è più imperfetta”
“E una bellezza imperfetta?”

ψ

“La morte è la vita”
“E la vita?”

ψ

“καὶ ἡ κάμμυσιϛ τῶν ὁφθαλμῶν?”
[e il chiudere gli occhi?]

ψ

Devinez.

The ‘Black Book’ Of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Campaign. Harsher Criticism on Caesar(ism) (4)

19th-century statue of Vercingétorix (by Aimé Millet)

19th-century statue of Vercingétorix (by Aimé Millet) near the village of Alise-Sainte-Reine, Burgundy, France. Wikipedia. Click for source and larger view

Caesar‘s contemporaries were not overly happy about his Gallic campaign – Luciano Canfora observes.

[Luciano Canfora, Giulio Cesare, Mondadori 2010, XV, p. 132; English translation]

“This must be taken into account – he argues – when assessing the long-term effects of the conquest of Gaul, whose ‘inevitability’ is often teleologically overestimated. There is doubtless a risk of adopting a colonialist view.”

“A campaign unprovoked, with no real menace lurking, led to the destruction of the previous civilisation gradually supplanted by Romanisation, a genocide of monstrous proportions according to the convergent testimonies of Pliny the Elder and of Plutarch.”

Sources of a genocide

Let us then have a look at Pliny’s and Plutarch’s words.

Pliny the Elder: [Naturalis Historia; English: 7, 25; Latin: 7,92]

“For, outside (praeter) his victories in the Civil Wars [therefore in his Gallic wars only, MoR] Caesar slew in battle 1,192,000 of his enemies; but this, for my own part, I hold no special glory of his (non equidem in gloria posuerim), considering the great injury so inflicted on Humankind (coactam humani generis iniuriam): and this crime, indeed, he hath himself confessed, by avoiding to set down (non prodendo) the slaughter that occurred during the Civil Wars.”

Pliny’s moral indignation is unambiguous. His accusation, that Caesar hid his figures, harsh (Canfora.)

From the frontispiece of Plutarch's Lives by John Langhorne and William Langhorne. Baltimore: W. & J. Neal, 1836

From the frontispiece of Plutarch’s Lives by John Langhorne and William Langhorne. Baltimore: W. & J. Neal, 1836

Plutarch, Parallel Lives:

“Although it was not full ten years that he waged war in Gaul, Caesar took by storm more than 800 cities, subdued 300 nations, and fought pitched battles at different times with 3 million men, of whom he slew 1 million in hand to hand fighting and took as many more prisoners. (Life of Caesar 15, 5; English; Greek)

In the Life of Cato the younger (51, 1; English; Greek) Plutarch reveals the number of Germani slaughtered by Caesar by treachery and Cato’s proposal ‘to surrender Caesar to those whom he had wronged':

“When it was believed that Caesar had attacked the Germans even during a truce (σπονδή) and slain 300,000 of them, there was a general demand at Rome that the people should offer sacrifices of good tidings (εὐαγγέλια θύειν; supplicatio, in Latin), but Cato urged them to surrender Caesar to those whom he had wronged (ἐκδιδόναι τὸν Καίσαρα τοῖς παρανομηθεῖσι), and not to turn upon themselves, or allow to fall upon their city (εἰς τὴν πόλιν), the pollution of his crime (τὸ ἄγος).”

Pliny the Elder: an imaginative 19th-century portrait

Pliny the Elder: an imaginative 19th-century portrait. Wikipedia

Pessimism of Aristocrats
defeated by Caesarism

Pliny the Elder was a member of those senatorial aristocrats nostalgic for the Republic and set aside by the new ‘monarchy‘ favoured by Caesar’s course.

Edward Gibbon (Decline and Fall…, vol. I, Chap 3, part 2) seems sympathetic to their ideals:

“The education of Helvidius and Thrasea, of Tacitus and Pliny, was the same as that of Cato and Cicero. From Grecian philosophy, they had imbibed the justest and most liberal notions of the dignity of human nature, and the origin of civil society. The history of their own country had taught them to revere a free, a virtuous, and a victorious commonwealth; to abhor the successful crimes of Caesar and Augustus; and inwardly to despise those tyrants whom they adored with the most abject flattery.”

Which were these ideals?

Ettore Paratore (1907 - 2000) in his studyroom. One of the major scholars of Latin literature

Ettore Paratore (1907 – 2000) in his study-room. He was one of the major scholars of Latin literature after World War II. Courtesy of RAI

According to Ettore Paratore such ideals had been well expressed centuries earlier by the Scipionic circle (Cornelia, Caius Laelius Sapiens, Scipio Aemilianus, Polybius, Panaetius, Lucilius, Terence etc.): a group of eminent people [whose 'structured circle' some scholars now call into question, MoR] open to Greek philosophy and Roman humanitas where power was transfigured as a message of civilization and fraternity, whose spiritual reasons had been sung by Virgil.

[E. Paratore, Profilo della Letteratura Latina, Sansoni, 1964, p. 351.]

According to Tacitus (who “internalized the senatorial ethic as only a newcomer can”: livius.org) the first Roman emperors had not lived up to these ideals because of Tyranny and its gloomy trail of crimes, blood, empty feelings (Paratore.)

[From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, from the American and French Revolutions to 19th-century romanticism –any 'yearning for liberty' will condemn Caesarism & the Roman Empire and will see in Tacitus - see image below - their historian; MoR]

Tacitus. A modern statue outside the Austrian Parliament Building. Wikipedia. Click for source

Tacitus. A modern statue outside the Austrian Parliament Building. Wikipedia. Click for source

Vercingetorix, national hero
of Gaul (and of France)

Mario: “You got carried away and forgot about Caesar’s conquest of Gaul”.
MoR: “Well, many French will also see in Vercingetorix their national hero, and in Camille Jullian (1859 – 1933) their bard.”

ψ

Camille Jullian is a great historian and a great writer. I very much enjoyed his Vercingétorix (1902), available in French as Gutenberg text.

A coin depicting an idealised Vercingetorix

A coin depicting an idealised Vercingetorix

Here is a patchwork from Jullian’s book (assembled and translated by MoR):

“The Celts had a sense of moral unity and this feeling survived their rivalries. Among them traditions had formed and legends, a spiritual heritage. There were poets, bards, who sang the deeds of the kings and the vast empire they once possessed. Their priests, the Druids, taught that all Gauls were descended from the same god.”

“The Arverni were the people designated to profit from these aspirations. Their land was the ‘navel’ of the Celtic world: the Puy de Dôme, where the powerful god Teutates lived, was at an equal distance from the main frontiers of Gaul. The Arverni were the bravest and the most numerous, they had the richest lands and they obeyed to the god who could speak from the highest peak.

Puy de Dôme, a volcanoe in the region of Massif Central in south-central France Auvergne)

Puy de Dôme, a volcano in the region of Massif Central in south-central France (Auvergne). It served for centuries as an assembly place for spiritual ceremonies. Click for source

We almost see these Arvernian kings thanks to Posidonius, a Greek philosopher who traveled about the country soon after their passing. He was dazzled by the spectacle offered by the person and by the procession of the most powerful king of the West, surprised to find in Gaul the pompous custom of the military monarchies of the East. Luern distributed down from his chariot gold and silver to the crowd. He held for many days banquets of stupendous luxury. The Arverni had a taste for the colossal, Puy de Dôme inspired them to greatness.”

“Even shinier was the vision of the Arvernian king at war, advancing in the halo of his necklace and golden bracelets, on a chariot plated in silver, followed by the bronze boars of the tribes. Not far, the formidable pack of his hunting dogs. Beside him, finally, the poet, a lyre in his hand, singing the glorious feats of arms of the king and his nation. And the men, their senses impregnated with the royal glory, the eyes affected by the gold, the ears by the clamour, the thinking by the verses, they imagined that perhaps they had just seen a god.”

“The Arvernian empire resembled no regular state, made as it was by a league of tribes. The Arverni of Bituit fairly correspond in the history of Gaul to the Romans of Servius Tullius and his Latin league in the history of Rome. But the advantage is all on the side of the Gauls: their gold, light and bright coins were infinitely more precious than this square bronze, dark and massive coin which is the Roman as of the early times, and I don’t think that at the court of Servius one was delighted by the long chansons de geste dear to our ancestors. Gaul debuted merrily into civilized life, and partly according to the Greek rite.”

Coins from Gaul

Coins from ancient Gaul. Coinage had started in Gaul a few centuries BC. Courtesy of ‘Le blog de Lutèce’ (www.e-stoire.net), a good site about the French celts (in French)

[The Arverni were defeated by the Romans in 121 BC and Roman Gallia Narbonensis was established. Called 'Provincia', it later evolved into Provence, MoR.]

A new Arvernian chieftain

“Nearly a century later, Caesar having appeared on the Rhone, it seemed natural that, after numerous bloody battles, a new Arvernian chieftain unified the scattered tribes into a single command. This man was Vercingetorix.”

“The Gallic fatherland, as Vercingetorix imagined it, I believe, was the practice of this community of blood, of this original identity that the Druids had taught.”

“Vercingetorix identified his life with that of the Gallic homeland and with the liberty of its people to the extent that, the day the gods condemned his dream, he thought only to disappear.”

“He had been defeated not only by a man but by the gods. Having begun the war with human sacrifices, he would end it much in the same way, resolved to offer himself as an expiatory victim.”

A Gallic human sacrifice

A Gallic human sacrifice. Courtesy of ‘Le blog de Lutèce’ (www.e-stoire.net)

Ceremony of surrender

“The Romans were admirable directors. They always staged the shows which struck the imagination of both the allied and the vanquished, which at times served as much as a victory to ensure their command. Julius Caesar, the day after his victory, presented to the gods of his country the same king and leader of those he had defeated.”

“Before the camp, within the lines of defense, the high platform of the proconsul had been erected, isolated and preceded by steps, like a sanctuary. On top, Caesar sat on the imperial seat, wearing his purple robe. Around him, the eagles of the legions and the cohorts’ emblems as symbols of the protective deities of the Roman army. In front of him, the mountain that crowned the ramparts of Alesia, its flanks covered with corpses. Spectators of the show, 40,000 legionaries, standing on the terraces and towers that surrounded Caesar as an armed crown. On the horizon, the immense frame of the hills.”

Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar by Henri Paul Motte

Vercingetorix before Caesar (by Henri Paul Motte, 1886)

“Alone, on horseback, Vercingetorix was the first to exit the gates of the city, no herald preceding his coming. He came down the mountain trails and appeared suddenly before Caesar.”

“He wore his finest weapons, his gold phalerae gleaming on his chest. Straightening his tall figure he got near the platform with the attitude of the proud winner going to triumph. Fierce expression, superb stature, his body sparkling with gold and silver, he must have looked bigger than a human being, and as august as a hero.”

ψ

[The above patchwork in French]

ψ

Previous installments:

Julius Caesar’s Conquest Of Gaul. When North-West Europe & The Mediterranean ‘Embraced’ (1)
Conquest Of Gaul. Debate On Julius Caesar’s Conduct, Motives, Achievements (2)
“Caesar was like the wind. Can we condemn the wind? And yet what scourge can it bring forth!” (3)

See also:

France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome
Stress and Joy. Conquest and Sorrow
Caesar, Great Man and Don Juan

The Old Man and the Water Flowing

An old man in Crete

An old man in a café, Crete, Greece. Click for credits

“I saw an old man kneeling on the stones. He was leaning over a channel, and watching the water run, his face bathed in inexpressible ecstasy. It seemed as though his nose, mouth, and cheeks had vanished; nothing remained but the two eyes which followed the water as it flowed between the rocks. I went up to him.

‘What do you see there, old man ?’ I asked him.

And he, without lifting his head or removing his eyes from the water, replied:

‘My life, my life which is running out…’  “

ψ

[From Report to Greco by Nikos Kazantzakis (translation by P.A. Bien)]

Calcagni’s Memoirs. Illness and a Thought, in Great Secrecy (14)

View from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. Click for attribution and to enlarge

14th excerpt from the memoirs of Carlo Calcagni – see the original text in Italian -, a true Roman born almost one and a half century ago. Read all excerpts posted so far in English or in Carlo’s original Italian text

ψ

My mother had looked after and cured her husband since he was 50, because of a chronic catarrh of the bladder and urine retention that also caused him perineum abscesses.

He, who held in low esteem doctors & medicines, refused any treatment and only when he could not take it anymore and was forced to urinate lest his bladder would burst, he went to an emergency ward where he got syringed or cut, depending on the circumstances: then with open wounds he was imprudent enough to get back home on foot.

“Nature must follow its course when an imminent danger of death has been avoided.”

I remember having gone through all the hospitals of Rome in order to accompany my father to the various emergency wards. He used to stay a few hours, then he started shouting so he was discharged.

[…] Had my father taken a bit of care of himself he could have turned 100, since at 70, when he died, he still had the arteries of a young man. And he suffered no other inconvenience than this urine retention […] which was his continuous worry, his fixation, so that when […] he heard someone say “that man is very ill” he asked:

“Can he micturate?”
“Yes”
“Nothing serious then.”

Mum was at times ill because of that blessed liver of hers but he didn’t worry since my mother suffered no bladder inconvenience.

“Nothing to worry about,” said my father, “such things have no real consequences. What is fundamental is to be able to urinate, like that, naturally, happily.”

The Church of San Francesco a Ripa, in Trastevere. Click for attribution

A Thought, in Great Secrecy

When I, as a higher-level clerk, was better set up financially the idea came to my mind to rent a piano so that my father could enjoy himself a bit given his very great passion for music.

My father got wind of it and objected, saying:

“Tell Carlo not to bring the piano here otherwise I will p*** into it.”

Much perplexed as I was by this very strange eventuality, I however decided to try and, taken the necessary arrangements with the shopkeeper, I had the piano arrive in great secrecy to our house, and closed it into a room.

My father came home and went to bed at 9 o’clock as usual, without having seen the piano.

When I arrived home at night I said to my mother:

“How did it go?”
“All’s well. He didn’t notice anything yet.”

At about 5 am, however, we are awakened by discreet, very much discreet piano chords. We get up to our great surprise and approach the piano room in our nightdresses. There we see my father who, in his nightdress too, was blissfully tickling the piano keys.

He had not p*** into it … my battle was won, to the great delight of the poor man who was in truth very much pleased by my thought and my boldness.

All Efforts were Hopeless

My father died of a fever, as a result of absorption, that had been dragging on for several days, but disaster was caused by a pneumonic fact, as it usually happens. I was nursing him that night and I perceived the end approaching by the fact that he, almost in a coma, did not call Rachele anymore, but his mother … mamma mia, mamma mia […]

He passed away peacefully, assisted by the comforts of religion and by a special blessing from the Holy Father. He had confessed himself a few days earlier.

ψ

On the 23rd of September 1909 Il Giornale d’Italia published this obituary notice in the local news:

“Count Calcagni’s death, General Brigadier of the Pope’s noble guards.

This morning (Wednesday 22nd, 4:20 AM) Count Giovanni Calcagni, retired Brigadier of his Holiness’ noble guards, died in Rome. He was one of the most respected and characteristic figures of the Roman Catholic patriciate.

Count Calcagni was a likable gentleman of the old school: although seventy-year-old he still retained an exceptionally vigorous body which led him not to care about the assaults of the illness which has now brought him to the grave. His health had rapidly worsened in the last few days until all efforts to save him became hopeless.

He passed away assisted by the comforts of religion and by a special blessing that the Pontiff wanted to send him.

Although Count Calcagni had retired several years earlier from the active life that he had led as a result of his duties at the Papal Court, his demise however will be felt with deep regret by all who could appreciate the rectitude of his character and the originality of his spirit.

A Requiem Mass will be celebrated in honour of the extinct in the Parish Church of S. Francesco a Ripa at 10 AM. Our deep condolences go to the desolate family.”

Original text in Italian

ψ

Related posts:

Calcagni’s Memoirs. Poverty and Father’s Funeral in Trastevere (4)

Pictures from Tuscany (skip blah blah)

A view. Click for a larger picture

Some pictures from our last week end.

ψ

This post is again dedicated to Tuscany, to ‘sposa‘ and to my ‘eldest brother’.

I hope you won’t think my life is so sparkling.

It isn’t.

And I have visited Tuscany seldom in the last 15 years.

The reasons are not related to the people I mention here.

I spend an unreasonable amount of time before a screen or reading or playing my guitar or walking.

A very stupid thing to do, perhaps.

I won’t say more, since dum loquor hora fugit.

ψ

Lilla when very young

[Necessary update :-( Skip to pics below]

Mario: “You sometimes try to make your life big. And this post proves you wanted to blow your readers’ mind with ‘your Tuscany’. Besides let’s face it Campania’s culture is greater than Toscana’s.”

MoR: “As for the last point I may partially agree though it’s hard to say and in any case Campania is today at risk (due possibly to capricious Greek influence?)

I mean, this everybody-screwing-everybody attitude come on. And you, and what you’ve done to Flavia especially, and to me. We loved you. You are and will ever remain a moron.”

Mario: *keeping silent for a moment*

“You didn’t reply to my first point.”

Buds in Tuscany 34 years ago. Mario on the right and I on the left

MoR: “There may be some narcissism (see 1, 2), or this ‘wanting to show them’ thing.”

Extropian: “The usual ‘attraction-repulsion between North and South, between hyperboreans non-hyperboreans’ thing? Interesting but boring now.

I am thinking about us, more than 30 years ago, when we used to spend so many week ends in Tuscany all together, our group of school mates. It was beautiful. And your eldest brother, terrific.”

MoR: “Lilla my female dog has just died this morning. So what can I say. Life is short. Let us live.

But I kind of believe in reincarnation.

For both humans and animals, of course.”

ψ

Tuscan friends

'Sposa' (spouse) and 'il mio fratello maggiore' (my eldest brother)

Very good natured and intelligent, he makes everybody happy in parties. Click to enlarge

Very intelligent, strong willed, simpaticissima... click for a larger image. Btw I don't know why Italian women are so strong willed. They 'grind' us

I insisted on the feather. I obsessed all with my small E63. Click for a larger image

Click for a bigger pic. In Tuscany people love (and have great) meat and steaks

Well, well ,well ... sposa is sposa. click for a larger picture

End with rain. Click to enlarge

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