Giulia Lorimer: a Tuscan heritage
September 26, 2021 – 5:46 PM
There is something deeply touching when someone like Giulia Daneo Lorimer leaves the scene of life as her sons and daughters watch her lights slowly dim. But then, on September 11, 2021, her light began to shine as a lasting legacy. Don Fabio Masi led Giulia’s farewell ceremony at the Church of S. Stefano in Bagno a Ripoli with all his extended family, dearest friends and ardent fans as a confirmation of the beloved musician, the poet and loving person.
Born July 16, 1932 in Lugano, Switzerland, Giulia Daneo grew up in the world with French and Spanish ancestors, an American mother, a diplomatic father, and spent her childhood in Bulgaria. Her travels then took her to the United States, where she met her husband, George Lorimer. In a 2008 interview with The Florentine, she explained, “My husband was a journalist and had just finished his studies at Georgetown University and passed the foreign service exam… He came to Florence where he heard that they were looking for writers for a left-wing newspaper… ”.
In 1955 they moved to Italy to a large farm, Poggio all’Arrigo, in the hills above Florence. “My husband started working in the fields,” Giulia continued, “taking care of the land and everything that was needed. By this time we had four children and, being Catholics, we started to feel guilty about the size of the house and the surrounding area. So we went to talk to a priest and he said: “If you feel guilty, then open your house to others”. So we did.
Anyone who remembers those days in disbelief remembers how Giulia juggled so many activities at once: music, children, writing, and guests coming and going at all times. Poggio all’Arrigo was a house open to many as she explained: “We had rules. Anyone staying with us had to stay at least two weeks. Our first “temporary” guest was a painter and he stayed for seven years. After that, lots of people started to come and our house turned into a place where we could come to chat, write and be creative. We had some very famous people who came to stay with us, including American artist Harry Jackson, who was the first living person to have a work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. We brought in poets, writers, musicians and artists from all over the world … We started exchanging music of all kinds, French and Spanish lullabies that my mother taught me, and others influences from friends and guests over the years. ..Irish bands were the liveliest, always finding something to sing about and a musical instrument to play.
Meeting Irish musicians is what pushed Giulia into what would become a 40-year career as the lead singer of the internationally renowned Irish folk music group, Whiskey Trail.. The group produced 15 successful albums and performed throughout Italy and Europe until Giulia retired in 2015. When asked how her love for Irish music began, she replied: “It really developed after my husband and I took a long trip all over Ireland with Ned. O’Gorman, the American poet. We left our (then) five children with my mother and set off in search of our musical roots. When we got back to Italy, I started playing more seriously. And so, the Whiskey trail was formed in 1975 with excellent musicians. Giulia explained, “The name refers to the path taken by Irish immigrants as they made their way to America. Immigration, along with whiskey, created a type of music that really took off in America … ”
The Whiskey trailThe debut album was recorded in Milan and was an immediate success. “It was during the revival of folk music, so we were in demand. We started recording more and more, collaborating with well known Irish singers and bands like The Chieftains and SinéO’Connor announces…We were very different from anything going on back then. We have performed at festivals all over the country, especially in the squares during the summer. Whenever Giulia performed, she would end up walking away from the group to move her feet to a little jig, then step into the audience to get all of her fans dancing. “We were the first musicians to really move people. ”
On a personal note, Giulia has been a deep inspiration to me as she has been to many in Italy and abroad. We shared poems, literature, and childhood lyrics of American folk songs. Giulia had taught me, as an expat, that you can feel at home anywhere on earth if your talents are brought to light. And as one of her sons mentioned during Giulia’s farewell ceremony, when he asked her what she wanted him to be – a doctor, a lawyer, a financial success? ”.
“Testament” by Giulia Daneo Lorimer
Translated from Italian by Lily Prigioiero
I count how much I loved in my life.
Full measures, cubic meters, tubs, cups
filled with fresh water gushing from the rock,
advance waterfalls, rivers and streams
The goodness that flows from the bottom of my heart
to settle on a most loved being.
Goodness born in the head
through fatigue, restlessness, pain
and offered indifferently
so as not to hurt the other.
ready to take back an unwanted gift.
And there was love that bound me
with imprints that no longer leave,
and love locked in a smile
given in a fleeting case
never meet again during
my life went by anyway.
Sometimes it was an intangible veil,
a sparkling curtain for an alcove
where a loved and despised being
Sometimes a warm blanket for a traveler
i liked it so much
that I did not find time for the animals,
places, strangers, things;
the myriad things loved by others.
If I think about how much I loved
of all the energy that I have poured out
happily aware that kindness
to serve and to serve others
I wonder if I could have loved