This beautiful hill-top town in Tuscany is responsible for much of the magic that has inspired my writing – both this poem and The Twins of Orion (see under Writing: Children on this site). I also mention the incredible 442 – their bravery in Italy in 1944 recognised by more purple hearts than any other American regiment. Ever.


There’s a picture on my wall; a post-card


Of a narrow street

Where buildings rise and reach to kiss;

close but never close enough,

beneath a cloudless sky.


The colour picture focus falls, bright

on figures ambling by,

dreamlike browsing paintings hung on shaded wall.

They , unhurried

waft through colonade of potted flowers;



Shadows cling

where cotta roofs



cream facades.

And  iron clad

mouths of glass gape wide

in uneven scatter  across uneven stone.

As ancient

windows, mottled black,

look out.

Dare we look in?


History sits at peace

on pavement; here

resting in the morning sun.

And watches the feet of a gentler time,

a happy time,

a time of trinket laden memories.

The lives of man

here settled.



Calmly strolling through a


Do they notice?

The strong, resilience of this

Mediaeval town

atop a Tuscan hill.


stands proud behind

Sangallo’s walls.



Listen. Hear it’s quiet roar.

At its peak

the Rocca ramparts


its fortress fingers


crenelations into Italian skies.


It stands

it stood

it witnessed

Seige and fight and battle.

Ancient sentinel of  the Chianti league

guardian of land, law and power.

And site of purple heart citations

as on a sunny July day in 1944

it heard

the distant rumble of approaching guns

it felt

the artillery of war

it bled

the blood of buildings smashed,

of lives destroyed

and  evil purged and fled,

as  ‘Going for broke’

the 442nd swept through Italy

in a wave of bloodied allied victory.



pastel painted feet

in shoes

stand and shuffle,

where once dirty soles


across polished stone

polishing feet

polishing away history.


I shut my eyes

and breathe

and dream until I

smell the dust-dry air,

feel the warming sun,

open my ears

and children shout.

I hear their feet skid and run

and the thud of their ball

on that polished stone.

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