Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Our dear readers must excuse us today for using the same preamble we used in our last “Letter from Panzano”, that of small-town chitchat unleashed by pranksters during hot summer days.  Rolling from mouth to mouth, idle chat oftentimes transforms into real urban myths.

But our story today is true, rest assured, the story of a monkey running wild through the hills.  It dates back to the late Eighties.

In Cavriglia, Italy’s “reddest” town, there was once a beautiful woodland park, with a zoo.  Most of the animals there, had been sent as gifts from countries around the world: Siberian wolves, American bisons, Japanese macaques, ostriches, llamas, a big brown bear… .

The Cavriglia Park became a popular destination for daytrips, offering a cool breeze, fresh air and exotic attractions. But…  all of a sudden alarming rumors started circulating: “A wolf escaped from the zoo and has eaten the farmer’s sheep!” Is it true?  Is it false?

For sure it is true that once a monkey really did escape and, after wandering up and down through the hills from Lucolena to Lamole, it ended up right here in Panzano.

The kids’ fright was great as they ran through the streets, yelling: “We saw a chimpanzee!”.

Who-knows-how the runaway ended up on Anna Rava’s rooftop, at the Poggio. After hearing her dogs barking, she found it busily removing her roof tiles.

With a ladder up against the wall, people tried luring the chimp off the roof with apples. It enjoyed the first one but aimed the second at a “rescuer’s” head!  Anna must still have a photo of the event.

After that the monkey took up residence at the Fonte delle Servoline, where local kids, no longer afraid, would feed it bananas and peanuts.  There the runaway monkey lived a blissful vacation, with fresh water, cuddles and all sorts of goodies, before being taken back to the zoo.

The chimp was the queen of summer conversations.  We’re told that the only animal left in the now dismantled zoo is old “Bruno”, now a forty-year-old bear!

This is the story as we know it. If anyone knows more, please speak up or forever hold your peace.

Miriam Serni Casalini e Dario Cecchini