I finished a first draft of my “Caterina the Wise” retelling for the Clarion Write-A-Thon. This week, I randomly selected a story called “Liombruno” from Basilicata. My Italian geography is not very good, so I researched the city and learned its geography is really cool. It is a southern Italian region in the lower middle part of the boot, and has over 140 rock-cut churches, mountains, and forests.
I hadn’t heard this story before, so I did a little bit of research. I did find an article snippet on Encyclopedia Brittanica (it’s buried behind a paywall so I can’t share it, unfortunately), but it was cited as exemplary of a popular folk style combining irony and common sense.
The story is about a fisherman who pledges his firstborn son, Liombruno, to the Evil One on his thirteenth birthday. Following this, Liombruno refuses to serve the Evil One and proves his worth. He is then rescued by a shapeshifting fairy named Fata Aquilina, who takes pity on Liombruno and showers him with riches. Missing his parents, Liombruno begs to go home and is given a magical ruby–an icon of her power–to call upon her magic. Only, the fairy warned Liombruno not to expose her for who she truly was. Which, after a time, he did.
The ending of the tale drips with forgiveness. She is dying from grief because she lost Liombruno and he betrayed her. When he reappears, he doesn’t not apologize. She pretty much forgave him and then went back to living happily ever after.
Hmmmm… This’ll be interesting to tackle. The heart of the story is really about the couple’s relationship, but at the same time any repentance story I’d write would absolutely have an apology in it. I’m just not sure repentance is the theme I want to lean into, because that feels off to me. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
‘Til next time!
Other Clarion Write-A-Thon Posts
About this Post: In exchange for sponsor support, I promised to highlight how I’m processing my identity as an Italian-American and daughter of an immigrant through brainstorming, story selection, and first drafts. If you’re keen on following my progress, warts and all, I encourage you to become my sponsor and sign up for my newsletter.