USA | 2000
Aleksandra Crapanzano is a film-maker and screenwriter – presently working on the screenplay Ruskin’s Bride, as well as a documentary for ABC in conjunction with Discovery / A&E / and The History Channel – her awards and shortlist recognitions include the CINE Golden Eagle Award and the Worldfest Screenwriting Award. She lives in New York.
My time at Santa Maddalena is sadly over. My bags packed and ready to go. Yesterday evening, I had come to the end of a scene and thought I would stop there, wait until my return to New York to start the next scene. But then I changed my mind, and I sat back down at my computer, realizing that time here is unlike time anywhere else. It is concentrated, intense and yet free of care — the kind of time one hates to waste because it is truly rare. Even tired, after a long day, my mind, I realized, would be more focused here than home amid the chaos of New York. And it was. And that is a gift. The gift of unadulterated, undiluted, pure time.
Virginia Woolf spoke of “the cottonwool of everyday life” that obscures the senses and the imagination. True also that the mechanics of daily life are like a parasite ready to take over one’s writing time. In New York, writing time must be carved out and held onto for dear life. Here, it is guaranteed and held sacred. Peace of mind is nurtured. Quiet provided. Errands, chores magically removed. (I don’t even know if I remember how to fry an egg.)
But there is much more. Some places are charmed, and this is one of them. Some of that charm is innate to the land, to these ancient stones. But all of it is brought to light by Beatrice Monti. She is the great creator of this magical place.
Grisha’s extraordinary spirit seems still to infuse his home. I did not know Grisha, but I have never heard a man spoken of with such love and by so many people all over the world. I do not speak a single word of German, and yet for one hour I watched him in a German documentary, hanging on every word, every glance, every twist and turn of wit and grace, and could have kept watching for hours more. Pure charisma. And a fierce intellect I will always admire. I would have loved him. That, I know. It is an honor to be welcomed into his world.
I recently finished a screenplay on John Ruskin. Ruskin loved Italy and wrote his best work about Italy, specifically The Stones of Venice, although all of Italy kept a magnetic pull on him, and he returned here again and again throughout his life for inspiration and for discovery. It makes me smile to travel in his footsteps, footsteps I have tried to imagine and recreate everyday for so many months.