Letters of Maria Celeste:
13 August 1633
Most Beloved Lord Father
If my letters, as you told me in one of yours, often reach you coupled in pairs, than I can tell you, not to repeat your exact words, that in this last post your letters arrived like the Franciscan friars wearing their wooden clogs, not only yoked together, but with a resounding clatter, creating in me a much greater than usual commotion of pleasure and happiness, Sire, especially when I learned that my supplication on behalf of Vincenzio and Signor Geri, which I submitted to you, or rather urged upon you, to speak more accurately, has been agreed to and settled so promptly and with even more generosity than I had requested: and consequently I conclude that my importuning in no way posed a disturbance to your peace, for indeed that possibility had worried me greatly, and now I feel cheered and relieved and I thank you.
As for your return, God knows how much I desire it; nonetheless, Sire, when you consider taking your leave from that city, where it has suited you for some time to remain in a place quite nearby, yet outside your own house, I should deem it better for both your health and your reputation, to stay on for several more advantageous weeks where for now you inhabit a veritable paradise of delights, especially considering the enchanting conversation of that most illustrious Monsignor Archbishop; rather than to have to return right away to your hovel, which has truly lamented your long absence; and particularly the wine casks, which, envying the praise you have lavished on the vintages of those other regions, have taken their revenge, for one of them has spoiled its contents, or indeed the wine has contrived to spoil itself, as I have already warned you might happen. And the other would have done the same, had it not been prevented by the shrewdness and diligence of Signor Rondinelli, who by recognizing the malady has prescribed the remedy, advising and working to bring about the sale of the wine, which has been accomplished, through Matteo the merchant, to an innkeeper. Just today two mule loads are being decanted and sent off, with Signor Rondinelli's assistance. These sales, I believe, must bring in 8 scudi: Any surplus left over after the two loads will be bottled for the family and the convent as we will gladly take this little bit: it seemed imperative to seize such an expedient before the wine sprang any other surprise on us that would have necessitated throwing it away.
Signor Rondinelli attributes the whole misfortune to our not having separated the liquid from the sediment in the casks before the onset of the hot weather; something I did not know about, because I am inexperienced in this enterprise.
The grapes in the vineyard already looked frightfully scarce before two violent hailstorms struck and completed their ruination. A few grapes were gathered in the heat of July before the arrival here of the highwaymen, who, not finding anything else to steal, helped themselves to some apples. On the feast day of San Lorenzo there came a terribly destructive storm that raged all around these parts with winds so fierce that they wreaked great havoc, and touched your house as well, Sire, carrying away quite a large piece of the roof on the side facing Signor Chellini's property, and also knocking over one of those terra cotta flower pots that held an orange tree. The tree is transplanted in the ground for the time being, until we have word from you as to whether you want another pot purchased to hold it, and we reported the roof damage to the Bini family, who promised to have it repaired.
The other fruit trees have borne practically nothing; particularly the plums, of which we had not a single specimen; and as for those few pears that were there, they have been harvested by the wind. However the broad beans gave a very good yield, which, according to La Piera, will amount to 5 staia [less than a bushel] and all of them beautiful: now come the beans.
It would behoove me to give you an answer concerning your inquiry about whether or not I sit idle; but I am saving that until some time when I cannot sleep, as it is now the third hour of the night. I send you greetings on behalf of everyone I have mentioned, and even more from Doctor Ronconi who never comes here without pressing me for news of you, Sire. May the Lord God bless you.
From San Matteo, the 13th day of August 1633.
Most affectionate daughter,
©1995 Al Van Helden