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The story
of the sprite in the castle


Here is the first story travelling
between Soave and Latina.



By the light of the moon he’d come out of the tallest tower in the castle…

A spiteful witch had shut him up in there ages ago, letting him out only during the nights when the moon was full.

The witch was as ugly as a mouldy apple, she had a long nose with a great big wart on it. She couldn’t bear children to be happy and laughing, or drawing brightly coloured pictures. She was jealous of Chalky because he was a great friend of theirs, while if she met one she came out in a rash of spots, and couldn’t stop scratching.

Chalky was the castle pixy. He skipped lightly over the battlements with his quaint pointy hat and his magic wand with its three little bells.

That moonlit night he’d come somersaulting down Via Roma to grant the children’s wishes that nobody had listened to, and he’d left lots of little heaps of coloured chalk along the road.

He’d put some in front of the Town Hall, others along the cobbled walk from Piazza Antenna up to the Scala towers, plenty in Piazzetta Grani and ever so many in front of the shops selling ices, toys and sweets, so enticing for children’s wishes and whims.

"How happy they’ll be when they find them”, he thought. “They’ll be able to draw their dreamsi".

He’d prepared the chalk after searching in an old book and getting advice from the flower fairy, who lived nearby among the ruins of Illasi castle.

She was a real expert with colours! She always went round with a bag containing all you need to look after wild flowers. Every year, before winter arrived, she got out a large trunk and said the magic spell to catch all the colours, and then left them there to rest till spring came:

“Buttercups, daffodils and zinnias,
Carnations, pinks and petunias,
Sunflowers, daisies and roses,
Orchids, tigerlilies, crocuses,
Harebells, hyacinths and poppies,
Stardust, black of the night, blue of the sea:
Come here to rest, till winter tires
And spring stirs gently back to life”.

To make red and orange, Chalky caught two rays of the setting sun, and then took emerald green from a scented mintleaf.

His blue came from a drop of seawater, and a little mouse lent him the grey of his tail. For black, he waited patiently till night came, and took a bit; then he mixed moon and star crumbs, and look… yellow!

He took his white from a drop of milk, and his pink was a present from a peachtree which opened a spring bud early for him.

As it was autumn he collected some brown from the leaves in his gardening apron. Purple? The petals of a violet were enough, and then he leapt towards the sky to catch his blues.

After he’d put the chalks down, he did little drawings on the road to catch the children’s eyes, and then hurried back towards the tower just as dawn was casting its golden rays over the town’s roofs.

And so it was that Lorenzo, leaving home for school just like every morning, saw drawings on the tarmac: a pink boat, then a blue horse, and a patch of grass full of flowers a few steps further on.

“Whoever can have done these drawings?” Lorenzo asked.

"I know”, answered Celestina, a granny who lived near the Courthouse, and saw him entranced by the pictures. “It was the castle pixy. Last night was full moon and he came out on his merry round!”.

“What’s this pixy like?” said Lorenzo

"Oh, he’s a cheery chap, he slips in among the clouds and runs after them, hither and thither, just like the wind. As soon as he sees the moon round as a silvery ball, he goes from house to house, from the Covergnino quarter to Bassanella, collecting the children’s dreams. And sometimes he plays games without being seen: he hides in the castle chambers and plays tricks on the young couples and the nosy tourists”, said Celestina. “I remember once…”

Lorenzowasn’t listening to her any more. He ran to school and told his mates everything he’d seen and heard, all in one breath.

Then the children and teachers went out to look for the coloured traces the pixy had left the night before. As they went they found lots of brightly coloured chalks and ribbons, and in their small hands these traces turned into…dreams.

“That pink was pale and light…”.

"You could see the white so well, it was smooth"

"The black dust of the charcoal stick made me cough…”

"The yellow chalk was just so soft!”

"And the green was easy to colour with too"

"“But the red was hard and made a great old noise on the tarmac!”

The merry hubbub and the children’s imagining made the dreaming contagious: it spread to passsers-by, police, shopkeepers and lots of parents who hurried over to see what their children were drawing.

Somebody started the game of writing a dream on a little bit of paper, then tying it to the ribbon next to someone else’s dream, and then another, and yet another… ending up with a long, multicoloured paper chain with all the dreams collected along the street.

Perhaps now you’re wondering what happened to the drawings.

Some were taken away by the rain, which fell drizzling that evening, rubbing them out.

The colours had dirtied the streets and the ribbons had fluttered in the wind, then they soaked up the rain and choked the drains, as well as the spirits of the disgruntled. These were the rascals who’d whistled up the rain and the wind …to do mischief in the town.

But though the children’s drawings and cheeriness had been erased, the bundle of their dreams tied together as messages was still there, and they wanted to transform them into reality!

“If only grownups thought a bit more like us children”, they said, “maybe Soave would be even lovelier and more welcoming”.

So they went out to have another look at the old heart of their little town, and that way they rediscovered its hidden face, the voice and the story of its alleys, its squares and streets, still alive today.

The pixy eyed them curiously from the castle keep while they were happily planning and drawing Soave, using the special colours and little models which state important wishes.

Lorenzo had asked for help in expressing his friends’ ideas from a group of people expert in designing, landscaping, constructing and preserving buildings.

And so the children’s proposals were set out in a plan made by “grownups”, so that everybody in the town could at last happily rediscover the Space of Times Gone By.

“I’d like the Verona gate to have a drawbridge over a moat, with the river Tramigna flowing quietly along it. That way we could go into town on foot eating an icecream".

“I’d like to revive the walks in the town centre used by the medieval guards when they did sentry duty on the towers.

They could restore the walls so as to make it possible to walk from one gate to another, protected by railings; you could go round the town and see the view from high up”.

A museum in the towns

Children's project

Architects's project


"I’d like a museum exhibiting clothing, tools, portraits and other things from the middle ages, and also the tools our grandparents used when they worked in the fieldsi".

Children's project
Architects's project

"It’d be lovely to light up Via Roma with the right sort of street lamps, it’d make the old town centre look more fascinating in the evening".

Children's project
Architects's project

"If the river Tramigna was cleaner the fish would live a long time and you could go fishing. We’d like there to be more ducklings and swans"

Children's project

Architects's project


"If the river Tramigna was cleaner the fish would live a long time and you could go fishing. We’d like there to be more ducklings and swans”

“We want a cleaner and more welcoming playground, and we’d especially like the corners set aside for little children to be respected.
They could plant new trees and instal these things to play on: seesaws, a wooden castle, a sandpit, roundabouts, slides and swings. And I’d like some cycle tracks because some roads are dangerous to go on by bike”.

“I’d like Via Roma with no cars or scooters, decorated with tiles like mosaics. They could put flowerbeds down the sides and I’d set up a prize competition for the finest flowers on the balconies.”

Children's project
Architects's project

"I’d like Piazza Mercato dei Grani to become the children’s square, with brightly coloured flowerbeds and parking for bikes.

They could also build a fountain with lovely clear water and fish in it, and put benches and streetlighting round it. Then you’d need a few roadsigns to prevent cars from parking and to stop people throwing litter on the ground.

We could play the oldfashioned games: skipping ropes, marbles, hopscotch, leap-frog, blind man’s buff…

Once a month I’d have our little market for us to sell our magazines, books and used toys”.

“You see”, Chalky said,“the Space of Times Gone By lives on in the little grownups of tomorrow”.

Yet again the pixy had listened to the children and gathered up their wishes, rolling them up in a big ball which he’d taken back to the tallest tower in the castle.
“I’ll keep it”, he thought, “so that when they’re grownups they don’t forget the wishes they made as children. Then I’ll unroll it, under their happy gaze, and they’ll finally fulfill their suave dream for Soave".

Translation edited by Michael Knapton.
Special thanks to him

NOTE by teacher Luciana Bertinato of Soave.

Gessetto Chalky was born from the imagination and the research of a group of children of the primary school “I. Nievo” in Soave (Verona). In the first and second years the children had taken part in “Dreams in the street” and “The invented children”, didactic animations in town organized by the school together with Vittorio Riondato.

Afterwards, in the third and fourth years of primary school the children worked out reflections and drawings taking part in the project “Reliving the spaces of time”, the competition of ideas announced in 1999 by the Town Council of Soave for the town-planning and architectonic arrangement of the historical town.

The team “Maiocchi Pellegrini – associated architects” of Milan paid attention to the children’s proposal and wishes before drawing up the project which turned out to be the winning one.

Thanks to the sensibility shown by the headmaster Maria Chiara Cesaro, the town planners came to school to compare their project with the one drawn by the children.

The work has also been collected in a CD.

© Linda Giannini 2003-2004
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