«I’m a Basso Piave boy and a Grappa boy straight here from Pertica. I’m a Pasubio boy, too, if you know what that means». In this way Ernest Hemingway in his novel “Across the River and Into the Trees” (1950), narrated his love for the Veneto, a land where he served as a military during the First World War.
In the town of Bassano del Grappa, destination of my itinerary, the writer had come as a volunteer of the American Red Cross: the night of 8 July 1918, close to Fossalta di Piave, the Illinois lieutenant was shot in the leg by 28 shrapnel of machine gun in the time when he carried in safe place a wounded.
Operated on Milan hospital and decorated with the Italian silver medal, he wanted to move closer again to the front, and came in Bassano del Grappa in Ca’Erizzo villa, one of three campuses of the American Red Cross (the others were in Roncade and Casale sul Sile), where there were other writers Harvard.
Today, in the villa was opened on “Hemingway Museum and of the Great War“.
The museum occupies five rooms where they are exposed 58 large panels, with hundreds of photos, documents and letters, edited by Professor Giovanni Cecchin. The first sections collect books and the writer’s stories published in Italian in addition to newspapers and magazines that speak of him.
Along with the stories of Hemingway’s life there are numerous illustrative panels that tell the story of the First World War, the crucial moments of some battles and the military and civilian stories.
Visiting the exhibition emerges an “Italian side of Hemingway“: the writer from the villa looked the river and the mountains, headquarters of the fighting places mentioned in books such as a Farewell to arms of 1929.
The photos in the panels portray the novelist injured or while riding a bike to bring supplies to the trenches. But there is a new text, “La disappearance of Pickles McCarty” written in 1918, that struck me, and where Hemingway expresses his passion for the Veneto, a land where he often returned after the end of the war: “I could go back to Washington… But have you never seen the sun rise at least once by the monte Grappa, or heard in the blood within you the twilight of June on the Dolomites, or tasted the liqueur Strega in Cittadella, or walked at night through the streets of Vicenza under a moon? You know, in war, in addition to the fight, there are a thousand other things.“
If you visit Bassano Del Grappa and the Province of Vicenza, you will understand his words.