From North to South around Europe with Charles The GreatOnce upon a time there was such a great and unbeatable king that he wasnamed none other than Emperor. His name was Charles. He was tall andtowering, with long hair, thick beard and drooping mustache, but his strengthand power were such that he earned the appellation of Magnus (The Great).He came from Central Europe and he was a great traveler for attitude. Notonly: he was also used to move with a large and efficient army, with which heconquered territories and subdued people.In his perpetual wanderings he crossed the Alps with his army and came to abright and welcoming land called Italy. Round and round, he came to acharming village, Bienno, and was fascinated by its colors and people who,not at all belligerent, received him as a honored guest. Charles the Great wasdisplaced by such a hospitality: someone offered him a tasty chop, of whichthe Emperor was fond, someone else a glass of full-bodied wine, another onea loaf of bread baked to perfection, still others a bed to take a nap…in short,nothing was missing.
One morning, while walking through the streets, his attention was caught by alarge glow emanating from a building a little apart. He approached andpeered inside: a man in a vest, a guy named Battista the blacksmith, with akerchief on his head, was bent in front of a huge oven with some tools in hishands; a large hammer, moved by the water was beating up and down, bang-bang-bang, on these tools and here the incandescent material taking shapeand, as if by magic, turned into objects of great value and utility: buckets,spades, hoes, various tools, all in wrought iron. “Wow!” Charles thought, “thisman is a wizard, I want him to come with me, to my castle, where he will forgethe finest armor ever seen”. When he expressed his intentions, thecraftsman was desperate and he said crying and begging: “Sire, I have awife and children, don’t take me away from them, I would die! I will work hardto make the most resistant and precious armor on earth and I will send themto you, but please, have pity on me”. The great Charles, who was basically asentimental man, was touched by this pleading and, wiping a tear furtively, heroughly answered: “We will see, I will think about that”. And he took his leave.
His wanderings led him in front of carpenter James’ laboratory, whereCharles was impressed by the mastery with which the artist was working inertpieces of wood that came to life and turned into solid and refined furniture.“Here is a man for me”, Charles thought, “he could make my palace unique inthe world”. But when the Emperor expressed his desire to take him, Jamesalso asked not to tear him away from his affections.Reserving to decide, Charles went on his way and came close to a mill.Curious he went in and saw John the miller next to the fireplace, while mixingwith force a yellowish food cooked in a pot. “What’s that?” Charles asked. “It’spolenta made with corn flour, Your Majesty” was the answer. And he offeredhim a large slice, served with milk and cheese. “It’s delicious!” Charlespointed out. “I’ll take you to my palace, so every day you can make thisdelicacy for me and my court”. Hearing these words John began sobbing andwas saying: “Oh, my poor children! And my holy wife, what will she do?”Fearing of being regarded as one who let himself be outdone by tenderness,Charles went away slamming the door.It is known that in a small village people whisper and news speed along, somuch that the local Lord, the Marquis Ubaldo, was very worried. He orderedhis servant: “Invite the Emperor to my palace, prepare all sorts of goodies andlet’s welcome him with full honors worthy to his stock”. Got the message,
Charles appeared at lunchtime and, after some pleasantries, the two lordsshared a sumptuous meal, in which they were served red meat and game inall kinds, homemade pasta and mouth-watering desserts. At coffee time allthe nobles of the village came upon in delegation, all to beg Charles to allowthe blacksmith, the carpenter and the miller to remain in Bienno. Theypromised that every year they would send as a gift armor and furniture andcorn flour, but that, for his goodness, he saved the families. Faced with suchrequests, humbly carried out without arrogance, Charles could not say no.Thus, summoned the mighty army, he greeted the inhabitants in Bienno andresumed his journey.