It’s hard to believe that a week has gone by since we arrived in Montichiari for our pre-Rio camp. It has been a good week of getting over jet lag and getting into the final preparation for our ‘Road to Rio’. Actually when I think about it the last 4 years have flown by and it is amazing that I am getting ready for my 2nd Paralympic Games.

I could talk about training but that would be boring and today being a recovery day I decided that I would have a look around Montichiari write about it instead.

It was really hard to find information about the area but I knew that there had to be history here. Just by looking at the buildings and all the castles around, there is definitely history. I did find out that the Montichiari area has been inhabited since ancient times and that the town was destroyed in 382 by Alaric, King of the Goths during his march towards Milan. It was further destroyed by Attila in 447…definitely history here!

The area was ruled over the next 1000 years by a number of different families, the Longhi and Malatesta families were two of the dominant ones and at one point the Longhi family granted the “homines de Monteclaro” to build a free commune, albeit with some obligations, especially military, to the ancient masters. However it was a town that was constantly attacking, trying to counter the autonomy it had achieved and the town was destroyed a number of times

In 1404 Captain Malatesta occupied the town and the construction of the new parish of St. Mary Major was completed in the Market Square. Even Pope Martin V stopped here on his journey to Rome. But the Malatesta family met their demise in 1420 and in 1428 after the battle of Maclodio, the country swore allegiance to the Venetian Republic and remained faithful until it’s decline in 1797.

In 1848, at the hands of some patriots, including the literary Montichiari Angelo Mazzoldi, the people rose up against the Austrians and in 1859 Montichiari had an important role in the battle of San Martino & Solferino. Residents were instrumental in assisting a large number of wounded from the front lines using a number of the public and private buildings including the parish church. The French government then bestowed the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour on the local priest Don Domenico Treccani.

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The Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta is an important landmark in the area. In 1947 the apparition of the “Blessed Mother” appeared to a humble Italian woman by the name of Pierina Gilli. She was born in Montichiari and worked as a nurse at the local hospital. The apparition appeared 7 times to her in 1947 as “Rosa Mystica” and then again in 1966 a series of apparitions began. These have been verified and believed by the local priest as well as the Pope. So there ends my history tour and now my day exploring Montichiari.

I love people watching. Today was market day in Montichiari with everything from food, household goods, underwear, shoes, handbags and clothing, pretty much like any other market. I walked it a couple of times then sat for a coffee to just watch.

Market Day

   Market Day

Old, young, men, women, families and singles all out enjoying the day. People picking through sales bins, t-shirts for 1 euro, shorts/pants for 5. But it was more than about shopping, it was about catching up with each other and no matter whether male or female, there was a loud ‘ciao’ and hug or kisses on the cheek. I’m told this market is every Friday and it is always busy! What was a very quiet town centre in front of the Basilica had come alive with sounds, smells, colours and life!

Cultures of all kinds coming together enjoying the day. I stepped out of the noise into the Basilica and was hit by the quietness of it. Beautiful and calming with a serene presence about it. Even if you’re not religious you can feel the spiritualness of this building. I lit a candle for my dad and my friend Bill who both left this world this year and then just sat in the quiet, I could feel them both here with me.

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Stepping back into the market I’m hit with food and coffee smells, fresh pastries, fried foods and grilled meats and the colours of the rainbow in fruit and vegetables and after purchasing some fruit made my way back through the hawkers towards our hotel.

My recovery day was more than just physical it was a great mental recovery to prepare for the next week ahead!