Here’s a little bit about the house I love so much – it starts years and years ago.
The house was bought by the Nicchiarelli family at the end of the IX century. In 1923 my mother married Luigi Nicchiarelli and came to live in the house. Then, on 16 October, 1924, their son Cesare Nicchiarelli was born, but in February 1925 my mother’s first husband died.
Ten years later my mother moved to Perugia to allow Cesare to finish his high school studies.
In 1935 at a show, which was very popular at the time, because Buffalo Bill was taking part, she met an old flame from her high school days, who later became my father.
Time went by, and four years later war broke out. Soon my sister was born.
Cesare volunteered to join the troops and was posted to Abruzzo. After Badoglio’s betrayal on 8 September, he enlisted with Mussolini’s Social Republic. In his last letter to his mother he wrote that he did this as a question of honour as he had, like so many young men at that time, sworn his allegiance to Mussolini’s regime. He died after being shot by the Italians, his friends who had previously believed in the same things, but had betrayed and joined the enemy.
These were terrible years for my mother, and this caused severe hardship in my childhood and adolescence.
But my whole life was ahead of me, and this gave me strength and hope.
To return to more peaceful times: we always came to Panicale as soon as school finished and stayed there until August when we went to the sea. Later we returned to our village and our friends, and when the schools opened again we went back to Perugia until the next year’s holidays.
I remember our life in Panicale with nostalgia. The days went by, we were always outside: we roamed the little streets, or worked on embroidery or tulle or knitted something for the coming winter.
On special occasions we were given permission to take a picnic to Castagnola or Pietrasvella, lovely places around the village; there we felt really free and happy.
The years went by and I got married. And then I had four children in a short lapse of time.
In the summer one of my greatest joys was to take them to their grandma in Panicale, resuming our old habits, staying in this house that I adore.
In the evening we sat outside until dark, while my children played and enjoyed themselves with their friends.
When we had put them to bed, my sister and I went to the kitchen to prepare buns for breakfast the next morning.
We would write little notes: ‘while you sleep the fairies are working for you!’
Many a year have gone by and my children have grown up and their children are adults, But sadly they have not experienced the same magic and joy that I felt.
Don’t ask me why, maybe because …
But now I am going to leave the house for you to enjoy.
I hope you remember Panicale and this house full of memories with pleasure.
Virgilio Ceppari (or Cepari) was born in Panicale in 1563 into a wealthy family. After obtaining a degree in letters, philosophy and law at Perugia University, he applied to enter the Company of Jesus.
When he was still young, he was conferred prestigious roles within the Order. After some years in Recanati and Padua he was called to Rome to teach at the Rome College where he became a prefect. Paul V, Gregory XV and Urban VIII also appointed him to deal with important business with other sovereigns.
Many of his written works were published when he was still alive; one of these is the biography (hagiography) of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga.
In 1618 he was given the privilege of elevating the parish church to a collegiate. He also attained numerous rights for the citizens of Panicale.
Ceppari had the Palazzo di San Sebastiano built in Panicale where the Jesuits used to stay during the summer holidays, and in 1690 it became the College of Virgins. In 1619, after many years of struggles with the bureaucracy of that time, he managed to obtain permission to found a feminine college in Panicale.
Ceppari brought this idea from Castiglione delle Stiviere, where Aloysius Gonzaga had already set up a similar establishment and who instructed our fellow citizen to draw up the rules.
While in the town in the Mantua area the college remained secular and is intact to this day, in Panicale, as it was a ‘Papal state’, in 1750 the College of Virgins (as it was known) was transformed into a cloistered convent, and in 1870 it was suppressed under the Siccardi law.
Virgilio Ceppari died in Rome in 1631.