We look at a drawing of the church. Franco is particularly fond of this one; he could see the campanile (bell tower) from his bedroom window. Franco, who served as an altar boy and often rang the church bells, says that the priests who served there were like fathers to him. In all of Franco's paintings, the campanile stands substantially taller than it really is, assumes physically the prominent position that the church held in his life.


This drawing, looking down from a point high above the path approaching the church, shows a view that Magnani could never have seen. Magnani drew the correct number of steps going up to the church door, but they are considerably larger than the actual steps, a distortion that may reflect a child's perspective.

Franco brings out other paintings: landscapes that show his family's fields, as well as the graveyard in which his parents are buried; a picture of his schoolhouse, which the Germans took over during the occupation. When Franco tells his stories of Pontito, animating the placid, unpeopled scenes of his paintings, he himself becomes animated, as old excitements, angers, and griefs are stirred. As he describes the town, his fingers, thick and gnarled from a life of manual work, trace precise paths on the tabletop as if it were a map.

A Memory Artist


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