Luigi Pirandello

Searching for Pirandello in Chianciano Terme

Writer spent time there with his family

After having been linked to the great filmmaker Federico Fellini, Chianciano Terme pays homage to another illustrious figure in the arts, the illustrious 19th century writer Luigi Pirandello, who frequently visited the thermal springs in Chianciano. Sixty years before Fellini, Pirandello spent long periods of time in Chianciano, with his wife, Antonietta, who suffered from paranoia, and his three children. The holiday spent there coincided with an important period of artistic production, which helped inspire the twentieth century writer. In Chianciano, Pirandello wrote the two celebrated short stories, entitled “Acqua amara” and “Pallino e Mimì”, which were both set in the Tuscan town. From these pages emerge echoes of the past, of the Chianciano of that time, where "bathers" were housed in small pensions, and where the curative waters were slowly gaining scientific legitimacy. The stories are a snapshot of this thermal area, taken just as it was beginning to really blossom. 


A Pirandello itinerary in Chianciano takes literary lovers on a tour to remember the time this writer and Sicilian playwright spent there. Information placards located throughout the city centre provide information on the places and things in Chianciano that Pirandello describes in these short stories—from Porta Rivellini to Via Casini and from the Collegiate at the Vecchio Ospedale to Via Solferino. The local APT office also provides tourists with a booklet on the thermal springs complex that Pirandello visited. In those times, it was the only one that existed: at the beginning of the last century, the modern Chianciano had not yet really developed and so spa guests usually stayed in the historic center, which was dotted with small pensions and rooms for rent. Pirandello stayed at the Pensione Brugi Ronchi, in front of the Collegiate. The Pirandello itinerary is part of overall efforts to improve the quality of tourism and invest in the culture of the oldest parts of the city. 

 

In addition to the special Pirandello itinerary, a book on Pirandello and his experience in Chianciano Terme, published in 2008 by Biblos. Called Pirandello a Chianciano Terme. La Chianciano Terme dei primi del ‘900 attraverso gli occhi e la penna di Luigi Pirandello, the publication takes a more detailed look at the two short stories, set in Chianciano, which would later be published in a collection of short stories, called Novelle per Un Anno - it came about right in Chianciano. "They are - as the introduction states - two nice stories, and some of their descriptions are extremely precise, making it easy to find specific references to the Chianciano of the time. In some ways, it's not that far off from the Chianciano of today. It also makes references to the surrounding environment and to the local characters who are still residing in the collective memory of the residents." The introduction continues, explaining that the distinctive phrasing of the Chianciano vernacular, the witty sayings of the locals and more are all present in Novelle. These are all valuable resources in beginning to understand how the spa was in the early years of the past century, when most of the guests were staying in small guest houses and in old cottages in the center, connected to the Parco dell'Acqua Santa only by infrequent buses. These, captured by Pirandello's pen, mark the beginnings of one of the world's most important spa areas, which lives on in the Pirandello-themed itinerary.