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Brother-in-law Hugh’s wonderful photos have arrived. I’m going to take my time… Here’s the first –the main view from the house.

On the hill, three kilometres away, is the village of Civitella, the history of which turns out to be remarkable: established in Roman times, like so many villages in Tuscany it was fought over by the factions of Siena, Florence and Arezzo, settling with Florence in the mid 1300’s.  

World War II didn’t treat it any better. When we went to see it, we found a hillside town almost entirely in the shadow of its past. The castle, bombed by Allied forces, remains split open and unrestored. And on 29 June 1944, 244 citizens of Civitella were massacred by German forces, in retaliation for the murder of two German soldiers by partisans. The church marks the spot, right in the middle of town, where it happened. There is a room, a tiny museum, with documents and artefacts, picture after picture too of those who were executed, and the transcript of the martyred priest who tried to stop it.

There is also a plaque in the town, next to the church, commemorating the liberating forces. Who, as it happens, were British. 

A moving place. We only went there once, despite it being the closest village. Something about it just needed some peace, perhaps…


From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning


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Who am I?

A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.