The Sheep Of Anzi.

As she makes lasagna in her kitchen, Anna Palestrina speaks The Sheep Of Anzi as if to her grandson, Ben, in the summer of 1962.  She says that Agni, the village she lived in in Italy, was up in the mountains near Potenza.  A rich old man got himself the title of Minister of Agriculture for the area and believed that sheep would save Italy.  He offered to pay double the value of any sheep that anyone in the area would buy and raise.  The farmers, to get the money, tried to raise sheep but many fell off the steep mountainsides.  When they learned that the Minister was sending a man to count the sheep so he could figure out how much money each farmer was going to get, the farmers discovered that the whole village had only about one hundred sheep.  They decided to put them all in one herd and move them from farm to farm as the government man walked around the village.  Antonio Maranzona had only one sheep left which he called Guidolina and allowed to sleep in his bed.  The Minister sent his great-nephew Napoleone to make inspection tours of the villages.  Napoleone played the cello and bragged that he had the biggest collection of dried tapeworms in the area.  To make sure Napoleone didn’t notice that the 100 sheep were being moved from farm to farm, the villagers fed him spaghetti and meatballs and home-made wine at every house he stopped at.  They had an old taxidermist stuff some dead sheep to make the herd look bigger.  Things were going well until Napoleone got dizzy and lay down in Marazona’s bed, soon joined by Guidolina.  Napoleone dreamed he was with the mistress of the Chief of Police and began kissing Guidolina, waking up to realize what he was doing and, screaming, ran out of the house and fell down the mountainside.  The sheep program was cancelled; the farmers never got their money.  But the rich old man left money to put up a statue in honor of Napoleone which they put up in front of Marazona’s house.  It resembled Napoleone with his cello and a big rolled-up tapeworm and Guidolina by his side.  Once in a while a half-blind ram who had liked Guidolina would go to the statue, pee on the cello, and then mount the stone sheep.  One day, Anna tells Ben, as she and her father walked past Marazona’s house the ram was on top of the sheep working as hard as he could.  Her father said she should learn the lesson that sheep are just like people, stupid as hell.

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