Ian arrived from the other side of the world with his family to spend a few days here but they enjoyed themselves so much that they extended their holiday to 10 days before they reluctantly moved on – they just couldn’t get enough of Barga (article here)
His daughter, Ellen was here in the city taking part in searching for the elusive cultural geocache boxes hidden around the area (article here) – Ian instead positioned himself at the unofficial cultural centre of Barga – the Da Aristos bar and using one the guitars hanging up on the wall, kept the clients entertained with a series of lively songs and stories interspersed with his wry sense of observational humour.
With over 30 years’ experience of performing, Ian is known for his relaxed and engaging style and has established himself as a powerful force in the Melbourne music scene. Since 2007 he has penned and presented a poem on a weekly show on the Triple R radio station. Since its inception as an educational broadcaster in 1976, Triple R has become Australia’s largest community radio station with almost 14,000 subscribers and 440,000 listeners per week.
Ian broadcast his weekly poem whilst at a concert of the Aristodemos at the Barga Jazz Club – (full article with many images, sound tracks and video can be see here)
Good afternoon Jon and welcome to The Barga Jazz Club where, as you can no doubt hear, the Aristodemos are warming up for an evening of classic Italian swing.
The weather has been very unseasonal here in the north of Italy – heavy rains and electrical storms causing localised flooding meaning I’m unable to get back to my digs at the moment.
Fortunately, and very kindly, the club has offered me the use of their broom cupboard to record in, so and I will now climb in and shut the door and hope the batteries in my torch last long enough to deliver this week’s offering.
A small table in the centre of a piazza: four men, all, at a guess, aged in their eighties, sit drinking coffee, engaged in animated, good natured debate.
Around them, tourists buzz insatiably, clinging to cameras and mobile phones clamped to selfie sticks, documenting everything; distressed doors, broken window shutters, cracked tiles, cats, pigeons, lizards, pillars, steps, plaques, gelato signs, fading frescoes, peeling paint, even rusting drain pipes.
Stretching out from from the piazza, like spokes on a wheel, steep, narrow lanes twist upwards and sideways, while cobbled, tiered alleyways plunge sharply down, meandering to their end at the walls of the old town, resembling an Escher print brought to life.
A slightly perplexed group of Australian tourists, struggling to make sense of this architectural maze, approach the table of octogenarians, inquiring in totally unintelligible Italian as to the recommended route to best see the town.
Smiling as one, each of the four old men point in a different direction, wish the travelers a good afternoon and return to their caffeine and banter.
Confused, the visitors pair off to explore the twisting passageways and stone steps, slowly dribbling back into the piazza, one by one, an hour later, none returning via the path they took on their outward journey.
One of the old men turns to the intrepid explorers and beams “As you now know, the town is round. Every path becomes every other path – there is only one – wherever you want to go you are already here”
The eldest of the men, grins warmly at the tourists, shrugs his shoulders and rasps in broken English “Welcome to the Hotel of California”
© Copyright 2016 Ian Bland
painter and photographer - started barganews.com, the first on line news site in Tuscany, Italy back in 1996