Here the original Italian text of this post.
Pius IX loved to take long very long rides in the country making the coach horses march at a steady trot to the extent it was said he made several croak.
So the escort squad had to undertake really long trots that were deeply enjoyed by my father but not so much by several other guards who didn’t share his passion for horse riding. Therefore my father replaced the unfortunate through small fees especially when the schedule foresaw long excursions.
One day the Pope decided to go to Anzio [see the route below along via Nettunense] and the trip being very long it was planned this time that the papal coach horses were to be changed, together with the escort squad’s horses and with those too of the guards who were to replace the horsemen who had already gone half the trip.
Hence my father with a greater fee arranged this time that at Cecchina (‘B’ on the map above) where the change was to occur he would take the place of Marquis Del Bufalo who didn’t like riding at all also because he was said to have a fistula.
Once at Cecchina horses are changed and my dad spots a magnificent Piacentini horse, a beautiful golden bay that he mounts with great joy.
Immediate departure but after a few hundred yards the train unexpectedly halts at the squad commander’s signal.
“What happened?” the Pope inquired.
“It is Count Calcagni who broke ranks.”
“Why, what has he ever done?”
“He got into the meadow and started to jump the fences for fun while his strict duty was to closely follow the train. He will be put under arrest.”
This time though my father didn’t serve the sentence because he was pardoned on the spot by the Pope who smiled benevolently at the bold youth’s escapade.
Pius IX knew my father well personally and treated him with great familiarity and benevolence.
When my father got married he of course presented the bride in a special audience with the Pope.
Imagine my mother’s fear and anxiety for such a visit. She went dressed in black and my father in uniform.
The Pope asked her what her occupation was but she got so frightened she remained speechless and lost her self-control. And since my mother gave no sign she had understood or could in any case answer, my father readily:
“She is a piano teacher, Holy Father.”
My mother had never touched a piano key in her life.
“Ah! brava, brava.”
Meanwhile Pius IX with great benevolence and a very subtle smile was seriously slapping my father on the wrist a bit.