7 février 2014 20H Baden-Baden 7 February 2014 8 pm

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C’est comme s’Il tenait à ce que je reste cloîtré quelques temps à Baden-Baden en attendant de décider de mon sort exact et de mon parcours pour les semaines à venir.

Certes, je continue à préparer le Café de l’Europe, mais je ne vais pas cacher à l’EDITEUR que je distrais mon ennui par la lecture et la préparation parallèle des étapes suivantes de mon voyage en Italie. Je n’oublie pas que l’arrêt à Montecatini Terme est prévu dans quelques jours.

Dans la bibliothèque de l’hôtel, je suis tombé sur un livre sans pareil : Le Grand Tour. L’Italie dans le miroir de la photographie au XIXè siècle. Il a été préparé par Giovanni Fanelli, professeur d’histoire de l’architecture à l’université de Florence et Barbara Mazza, responsable de l’édition à l’agence Roger-Viollet.


Je ne peux m’empêcher de penser que c’est Valery Larbaud qui l’a mis sur mon chemin, tant il plonge dans les années où l’écrivain qui vit en moi et me guide a fait de l’Italie son port-d’attache spirituel.

Barbabooth voit dans Florence une sorte de résidence de luxe vers laquelle on descend dans les trains les plus prestigieux.

« Promenade à pied, dans les rues profondes et fraîches. Le matin, de petites voitures chargées de choses odorantes remplissent  de vacarme les carrefours sombres. Au bout d’une ficelle, un joli panier descend du troisième étage, le long du mur, jusqu’à hauteur d’homme. Un maraîcher y met des salades et des fruits, et le facteur qui survient y dépose une lettre. On voit sur l’accoudoir le bras nu ensoleillé qui tient la ficelle… »

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Tandis que lui répond un texte d’Henry James dans « Italy revisited » :

« Ma chambre d’hôtel donnait sur le fleuve et était toute la journée inondée de soleil. Il y avait sur les murs un absurde papier peint orange ; l’Arno, d’une nuance à peine différente, coulait en bas, et sur l’autre rive s’élevait la rangée des maisons jaunâtres, d’une extrême antiquité, moisissant et s’effritant, saillant et se bombant au-dessus du courant. […] Tout cet éclat et tout ce jaune étaient un perpétuel délice ; cela faisait partie du charme indéfini de la couleur dont Florence semble partout se parer où que vous posiez les yeux à partir du fleuve, de ses ponts et de ses quais. »



I followed His advices. I remained hidden in Baden-Baden while waiting for His decision on my fate and on my route for weeks to come.

I continue with confidence to prepare the Café of Europe, but I am not going to hide to the PUBLISHER that I sustain my boredom by reading and by the parallel preparation of the following stages of my journey in Italy. I do not forget that the stage to Montecatini Terme is planned in a few days.


In the library of the hotel, I fell by chanceon an incomparable book: the Grand Tour. Italy in the mirror of the photography in the XIXth century. It was prepared by Giovanni Fanelli, professor in history of architecture at the university of Florence and Barbara Mazza, person in charge of the publishing for the photographic agency Roger-Viollet.

I cannot refrain from thinking that it is Valery Larbaud who put it on my way, so much he dives in the years when the writer who lives in me and guides me has chosen Italy as a spiritual homeland.

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Barbabooth considers Florence as a kind of luxury residence towards which we travel in the most prestigious trains.

Walk in the deep and cool streets. On morning, small wheelchairs full of nice-smelling things fill with noises the dark crossroads. At the end of a thread, an attractive basket comes down from the third floor, along the wall, at man’s height. A farmer truck puts in it salads and fruits, and the mailman who passes by puts a letter there. We can discover on the armrest the sunny naked arm which holds the thread …

Whereas Henry James’s text “Italy revisited” answers with grace:

Take a Tuscan pile of this type out of its oblique situation in the town; call it no longer a palace, but a villa; set it down by a terrace on one of the hills that encircle Florence, place a row of high-waisted cypresses beside it, give it a grassy court-yard and a view of the Florentine towers and the valley of the Arno, and you will think it perhaps even more worthy of your esteem. It was a Sunday noon, and brilliantly warm, when I again arrived; and after I had looked from my windows a while at that quietly- basking river-front I have spoken of I took my way across one of the bridges and then out of one of the gates–that immensely tall Roman Gate in which the space from the top of the arch to the cornice (except that there is scarcely a cornice, it is all a plain massive piece of wall) is as great, or seems to be, as that from the ground to the former point.

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Then I climbed a steep and winding way–much of it a little dull if one likes, being bounded by mottled, mossy garden-walls–to a villa on a hill-top, where I found various things that touched me with almost too fine a point. Seeing them again, often, for a week, both by sunlight and moonshine, I never quite learned not to covet them; not to feel that not being a part of them was somehow to miss an exquisite chance. What a tranquil, contented life it seemed, with romantic beauty as a part of its daily texture!–the sunny terrace, with its tangled podere beneath it; the bright grey olives against the bright blue sky; the long, serene, horizontal lines of other villas, flanked by their upward cypresses, disposed upon the neighbouring hills; the richest little city in the world in a softly-scooped hollow at one’s feet, and beyond it the most appealing of views, the most majestic, yet the most familiar. Within the villa was a great love of art and a painting-room full of felicitous work, so that if human life there confessed to quietness, the quietness was mostly but that of the intent act.

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A beautiful occupation in that beautiful position, what could possibly be better? That is what I spoke just now of envying–a way of life that doesn’t wince at such refinements of peace and ease. When labour self-charmed presents itself in a dull or an ugly place we esteem it, we admire it, but we scarce feel it to be the ideal of good fortune. When, however, its votaries move as figures in an ancient, noble landscape, and their walks and contemplations are like a turning of the leaves of history, we seem to have before us an admirable case of virtue made easy; meaning here by virtue contentment and concentration, a real appreciation of the rare, the exquisite though composite, medium of life. You needn’t want a rush or a crush when the scene itself, the mere scene, shares with you such a wealth of consciousness.”


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