28 December: The “Don Camillo” stories started appearing on this day in 1946

Luigi Meneghello is one of the least-known Italian writers, yet also one of the most brilliant of his times. He was born in a rural town in the Venetia region but moved to England after the War. There, far from his homeland, he devoted himself to Italian Studies and the teaching of Italian. This was more or less the same period in which Giuseppe Guareschi began to publish his “Don Camillo and Peppone” stories on a weekly magazine called “Candido, settimanale del sabato”. The backdrop against which these well-known characters are continually at loggerheads with one another was also that of a rural Italian town.

These characters are always so strongly in the limelight that few bother to look at the setting, which is in fact very similar to that depicted by the painter Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo. So let us, for once, look at his paintings without a heavy heart. Luigi Meneghello describes the people there with the word “need”, used in relation to sundry things: their many basic needs, their obligations (“one needs to work”), not forgetting their moral philosophy (“one needs to be good”).

And yet, when all was said and done, what need was there for anything more than what they already had? These people would go cycling along the banks of the River Po, they would merrily celebrate their town’s patron saint, and the innkeeper’s wine was always of the best. There’s no doubt that these simple characters needed to tighten their belts now and then, but they also knew how to sit tall in their saddles.

Name Day
Feast of the Holy Innocents