Blog 14th October 2016
At the end of October 2016 there was a formal occasion on the walls at the casermette known as the Casa del Boia or House of the Executioner (Hangman), where officials from the commune opened the new permanent exhibition of the Via Francigena. Recently restored as a part of the on-going refurbishment since 2013 celebrating the five hundred years of Lucca’s Renaissance walls, the Casa del Boia is an impressive building.
There are two entrances into the new museum, one from ground level and the other from the level on top of the wall as seen by the small wooden footbridge in the picture. The formidable fortified building has areas that extend into the old defensive structure near the bastion of San Salavatore known as il “bastardo” and a stretch medieval curtain wall can still be observed as part of a tower structure built between 1516 and 1522. The museum is on three floors with interactive visual media, maps, projected films and commentary.
It was a call from Cristina Bernardi of a production company called ‘Infinityblue’, who required someone with an English accent to assist in doing voice-overs for the audio-visual display in the museum that got me involved. Together we met her colleague who works from a basement of a large house just outside Lucca that contained a fully-equipped sound-recording studio.
The interesting and informative text used for the commentary was written by a local historian that described the route of the Via Francigena from the Cisa pass that marks the point where the Tuscan and Ligurian Apennines divide and on through the Tuscan landscape. Obvious attention was paid to where the Via Francigena passes through Lucca from Pietrasanta in the north-west and heading off south-east towards Altopascio, San Miniato, San Gimingnano, Siena and then on to Rome. The route is known as the Via Francigena as it stretches all way across France finally ending at Canterbury to the shrine of the martyred English Saint Thomas Becket.
The whole experience was new to me having never done a ‘professional’ voice-over and getting the correct pronunciation for many Italian place-names was quite a challenge. To know that the many English-speaking visitors to the museum will listen to my voice providing the commentary remains a rare and unusual privilege.