Narni, 23 agosto 2021
Dear R. ~
The sun was blazing when I stepped into Narnia the first time, and the only snow I found was written out in black spray paint on a medieval wall, all in caps, SNOW. Of course I didn’t get there through the wardrobe nor did I see the Witch, though aspects of Aslan remain intact in many parts of the town – of Narni that is, the Italian name of the town that inspired the magical realm of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles.
On that first visit I stood face to face with a frescoed saint at the Church of San Francesco, her pale face fading into the column she was painted on, the centuries gently persuading her to slip away from her garnet robe. This August I was there for a music festival, a strings concert of sorts, violins and cellos strummed in the dark underground of this Umbrian hilltown, an event advertised as being held nel ventre of Narni, where ancient cisterns lie deep, dry and dangerous but where the dark walls remain moist and reverberate with history. How could I not step back into the womb of time? Later, as we meandered through the streets at night I noticed that the door to Santa Maria Impensole was slightly ajar, and so like Lucy pushing past the fur coats in the wardrobe, I stepped over the threshold into a place of peace and comfort. The light of one solitary candle lit in memory of a loved one grew up and over the rows of arches illuminating a carved lion wrapping around the top of a column. I smiled saying a prayer then quickly slipped back out into the humid summer night, lest I spot the faun.
Wish you were here,
P.S. Would you like me to send you more beeswax candles from Rome?