'EXVALSE', 'Operation/Project co-financed by the Tuscan Por Fesr 2014-2020'

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Local ambassador stories: Sara Lucaroni, Sinalunga

Tenuta della Fratta is one of those places that exudes history, and it is in this picturesque setting, in this hamlet where time seems to have stood still, that we meet the journalist Sara Lucaroni, originally from Sinalunga.

“I used to live nearby, the family home is still here today, so I have always come often to Fratta to walk, to relax, to watch the animals. For me this is a special place and I asked to meet right here because it is a place that gives me a unique serenity. The first time I traveled for work to the Middle East was July 2015. I went to Iraq to report on the genocide of a minority, and it was a sensitive time because at that time there was Isis there. When I returned after 20 days, the first thing I did was to run here because I felt the need to find my roots again.”

Roots are an important concept for Sara, so much so that: “I often repeat the quote of Sister Mary ‘The Saint’ in Sorrentino's film ‘"La grande bellezza": ‘I only eat roots, because roots are important,’ helping with these words the protagonist to find himself. I believe it is essential to look inside because the center of gravity is inside each of us, in our history, in our culture, in our identity. Wherever we go in the world, whoever we interface with, we have to be strong in who we are, remember where we came from. I feel my roots very much and I am proud of them. That's why in that July 2015 the first thing I did when I came back was to come here to the Fratta”.

One can sense how Sara is attached to this place that for her today represents a safe haven, and that over the centuries has gone through important historical cultural changes: “Every time I look around and am amazed at how much history there is in one place. During the Middle Ages it was part of the great swamp that was the Valdichiana, after the reclamation the farm was built there, from where Sodoma passed in the Renaissance period to fresco the Chapel of St. Michael. Then how can we not think of La Fratta and the history of farms with large landowners, sharecropping and the Chianina breed, now famous throughout the world, but which was born right here in these stables. And then in addition to the past times there is the present day, with everything beautiful that La Fratta represents, a place that has an incredible luxury: calm. There are two closely related aspects that I like most about the Valdichiana Senese, nature and history: here nature is history and vice versa, and at La Fratta it is an even truer concept”.

And the calm, peacefulness and slowness are hallmarks of village life that the journalist particularly likes: “Work frequently takes me out of the area and out of Italy, plus I moved to a neighboring town, but I return to my Valdichiana as soon as I can, both for the family I have here and for the tranquility I can find at any time.”

La Fratta is located a few kilometers from the historic center of Sinalunga, about which Sara speaks with a note of nostalgia and pride at the same time:

“An historic center that is not sufficiently known and appreciated although extraordinary works are kept in the churches. I mention for example the small chapel of Madonna del Rifugio in the convent of San Bernardino. When I happen to go for long walks, I come to the hill and stop to visit the church, admiring as if for the first time the masterpieces preserved there, including incredible panels. And then the old town I am fond of, it makes me go back with my memory to when I was a little girl, when late in the summer evenings together with friends we loved to walk for hours in the deserted village and chat. There was no one there, the lights were off, the windows closed ... everything was charming and there was only us with our plans, our future, our dreams.”

Sinalunga has an extensive territory with the main town and many very different hamlets. It is precisely because of these diversities that there is a very strong and heartfelt sense of parochialism: “Sinalunga has a vocation that is not tourist but artisan, agricultural and industrial. Each hamlet has its own peculiarities and traditions, an identity all its own that the inhabitants care to defend. This is a very united and beautiful territory, however, as is traditional in Italy and in Tuscany especially, there is this parochialism that is hard to die, but which I am convinced is a strength, because the beauty lies precisely in diversity”.

Place of the local ambassador's heart:

Tenuta della Fratta without a doubt is a place of the heart that I recommend visiting with all the calm in the world, getting lost in the narrow streets of the village and discovering every corner. But there is also another special place dear to my heart, the wonderful little chapel of the Madonna del Rifugio inside the Convent of San Bernardino. Our Lady of Refuge is a work that is believed to have been painted by Sano di Pietro, has a very special history and is believed to be miraculous. I think the chapel of Our Lady of Refuge is really the essence of the beauty of this area. But not only this one, there are many other incredible masterpieces that one would not expect to see in a place that has no real tourist vocation.

Journalist, Sara Lucaroni is originally from Sinalunga