Cronache di poveri amanti


The events I am about to describe

happened in Florence

in the years around 1925,

a troubled time, if I remember well.

This ancient city,

like so many others of our country,

had never known such

dark and difficult times.

What we went through then

is still present

in the memory of those

who were involved.

But at the same time

it's already history.

Take my story, for example,

the story of an Italian,

in Florence around that time.

Back then I worked at a printing press

by the Mugnone river

and earned enough to

provide for myself alone.

Every day, as soon as work was over

I raced home.

I lived in a furnished room

in the Santa Croce quarter.

Before dinner I would go out

to meet with the girl

to whom I was then engaged:

Bianca Quagliotti,

the daughter of a sweet-seller.

It was the end of April,

or the beginning of May, 1925.

She arrived as usual that evening,

with her friend Clara

and with the air of someone

who has big news to tell.


Ah! I had to pull a thousand

tricks to get out tonight.

And Clara kept me waiting!

- Slow down, you look flustered!

- Well yes... no, don't you start.

I've got good news.

Maciste said yes.

Margherita persuaded him. They're

expecting you tonight if you want.

- Are you happy?

- What a question! Of course!

Just think. We can say goodnight

at the window before bed.

You'll hear the bells of

the Palazzo Vecchio every hour.

And what do you do? Count them?

One, two, three, four, five...

- Again!

- Isn't it hot, Bruno?

- The questions you ask!

- Why?

I want to know what's in your head

when I kiss you.

- That I like you.

- So why are you asking if I'm hot?

I've got to change the subject

or you'd never finish!

And you wouldn't even

want to start!

You're beastly.

I have to go now.

Let me go.

Look, Clara's waiting.

So, what do I tell Margherita

when I see her tomorrow evening?

I can't just move out

at a moment's notice.

Let's do it on Saturday,

that way I'll have my week's pay

and I can give her notice.

Margherita isn't doing this

out of self-interest!

She's not even a landlady!

Rather, try to make a good

impression with Maciste.

A good impression, hmm...

Then all I need to do is turn up!

Don't be cocky! Bye, see you tomorrow!


- Bye!

- Bye.

- Evening.

- Evening.

And so, the following Saturday

I went to live

in Via del Corno, renting from

Maciste the blacksmith.

Mario Parigi!

Pleased to meet you!

So you've come to live here, eh?



It's that boy!

- Good day, Signora!

- Yes yes, send him up.

Go on up! And careful on

the stairs, ok?

May I?

Mario Parigi, at your service!

- What a pleasure! Excuse me...

- Please.

I'm just getting this washing in!

It's stunning here! Takes your

breath away, but it's worth it!

I'll show you the room.

Don't expect too much.

We've never rented it before.

To be honest, we don't need to,

but that Bianca insisted...

Yes, I know! Here, let me carry that.

Put it there, thanks.

Don't worry.

Here it is!

Ah! This is a real palace!

Once you get used to it...

Compared to where I lived before...

- Let's hope you're better here.

- I'm sure I will be!

Bianca had told me so much

about Via del Corno

and its inhabitants who I was

now meeting one by one,

taking care not to mistake them.

My future father-in-law,

Bianca's father,

returned with his basket of sweets.

Staderini, the cobbler,

was putting away his tools

helped by his wife, Fidalma.

And Signora Armanda

and my mother-in-law

were back from the church service.

Ugo, Maciste's friend,

was back from his job as a

street greengrocer.


Nanni, a probationer, was conspiring

with the owner of the inn,

Signor Ristori.

Trustworthy gents, both of them.

The girls... the boys...

And those young women who would go out

to walk the city's streets every night.

At that hour, Nanni was greeting Elisa,

his lover

and also someone who gave him signals

of how things were going.

At night, Via del Corno

belonged to the cats.

Palazzo Vecchio would toll the hours.

And after midnight the police patrol

would pass through.

Nanni, you there?

- My respects, Brigadiere!

- Go to bed.

Goodnight, Brigadiere!

The light at the inn

was turned off.

In Via de Corno only two windows

remained illuminated,

those of the Signora, a character

who never missed

her chance to speak.

The accountant, Bencini,

returned home as the c*cks crowed

and the early risers

watched the day break.

Carlino Bencini, a veteran of Fiume,

fascist from day one,

employee of an insurance company,

and unashamed night-owl.

Carlino was the last to bed,

while his tenant Osvaldo,

a travelling salesman,

was usually the first up.

And thus began my life

on Via del Corno.

I was one of them,

and my story

became theirs, day by day.

- Ugo!

- What's up?

You got the key to my workshop?


Hurry up and get your cart out,

I need to work!

This love, this love which

shakes my heart...

Watch it.

My husband's up.

- Morning, Signor Giuseppe!

- Morning.

Not a morning person, eh?

Look outside, it's a lovely day!

- Morning, farmer!

- Morning, Corrado!

Well? What's the word in Calenzano?

Oh, nothing new.

Only the usual business,

folks coming down to Florence

for the Friday market.

It's your first year at the farm,

and you're bored already? Oh my...

What a mood you're in

this morning!

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Vasco Pratolini

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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