The Miracles of santo fico

Love and Miracles have a mind of their own


The Miracles of Santo Fico is a dramedy that proves, like love, miracles have a mind of their own, often occurring when and where we least expect them. It is a hard lesson that Leo Pizzola, an incompetent, newly-minted, miracle maker, who has spent the last twenty years of his life running from his past, must suffer through on the road to redemption and the love of his life.


In the summer of 1969, life has not turned out the way LEO PIZZOLA imagined it.  After twenty years in the United States, the handsome, lanky Leo returns home to Santo Fico, the small Italian village of his birth, to sell his family villa and farmlands.  The town is as poor as it was when he left. The fountain in the center of town is still dry. The large, ancient fig tree in the church garden is still dead. But, along with the sameness there are many changes.  His parents and closest friend are dead. MARTA the love of his life won’t speak to him. And, worst of all, the beloved old priest FATHER ELIO has lost his faith, thanks in no small part to the fact that Leo, hoping to make a fortune, has secretly stolen the “Mystery” of Santo Fico, a fresco that has adorned the church’s transept for six hundred years. 

What Father Eiio and Santo Fico need is one good miracle and with the questionable aid of his only remaining friend, Topo, Leo sets out to create one.  With each hilariously botched scheme, one miracle after another happens, but it is never the one expected or intended and, yet, in the aftermath of each miracle lives are inalterably changed. But will Leo find the miracle he is looking for, the one that will transform his own life?  Will a real, or, at least, believable miracle come to Santo Fico and provide the help the village needs not only to survive but to prosper? Will that miracle come in time to restore Father Elio’s faith or will his fasting take his life?  

It is a journey from emptiness to joy beginning with the rare and unexpected arrival of a bus load of tourists,  whose engine troubles divert them off the well-traveled road to Florence to the tiny, time-forgotten village of Santo Fico.  Leo and Topo follow the tourists into the local inn, where Leo comes face-to-face with beautiful, fiery owner Marta for the first time since she married his best friend Franco many years before. Even after raising two teenage daughters— town heartthrob Carmen and angelic Nina— in the wake of Franco's death, Marta can still barely contain her animosity towards Leo. 

Despite Marta's seething disapproval, Leo manages to hustle the tourists, presenting a wallet-opening story of St. Francis of Assisi's visit to Santo Fico centuries ago and the miraculous fig tree in the cathedral courtyard that yielded continuous fruit for the saint and his endless line of followers. The tree and the church now languish, completely dried up and in disrepair. The only hint of the church's former glory is found in the second miracle, an unearthly fresco by a mysterious Renaissance artist.

After the tourists leave, the town is ready to settle back into it's rut, but the earthquake hits,  shaking the town dislodging stones, collapsing frail structures and cracking the fresco. When Leo comes upon the loosened fresco, he recalls a tourist's remark about its value and sees it as the means to funding his departure from Santo Fico and his painful memories.  While the rest of the village is occupied saving those trapped in the rubble, Leo and Topo steal the fresco pieces.

When Father Elio, Marta's uncle, discovers the stolen fresco, he sees is as God's punishment for his long forgotten sin.  He decides to fast in penance. A furious Marta fears for her uncle and threatens Leo with arrest if he cannot create a miracle that will restore frail Father Elio's faith and save his life. 

From the rubble and theft, Santo Fico begins to rise as Leo and Topo attempt to manufacture miracles for Father Elio. They draw upon the talents of faded starlet Angelica, and World War II saboteur Nonno, reconnecting the frayed tapestry of their community. But despite their best intentions and efforts, things go awry.

Marta continues to wear her rage like armor, but the more she interacts with Leo and threatens him to create a miracle, the more their lingering attraction becomes unavoidable. When her daughter, Carmen's romance with the unsavory local stud turns dangerous, Marta turns to Leo for help. 

Leo hires Carmen to help him clean up his family's neglected Villa so it will sell.  The two connect and Leo begins to take pride in his family's estate.  While engineering a new romance for Carmen with a more worthy young man, Leo learns a shocking secret: that he was always the great love of Marta's life. But this miraculous revelation means nothing as each blundered attempt at divine intervention fails to restore Father Elio's faith and brings him closer to death. Now everything that Leo has come to hold dear is at the mercy of one last miracle.


The Miracles of Santo Fico project had an almost miraculous beginning.  A few years ago, Lisa Norcia came upon the book, lying on the remainder table at a local bookstore.  She paid her dollar, took the book home and couldn't put it down.  By the time she finished reading the last page, she was in love. 

"I've never come across a book that I knew HAS to be made into a film.  The story is sweet, kind, funny, lovely, and rare - the kind of heartwarming film you can never forget. It just stays with you."  Lisa immediately contacted a writer friend, Lanier Cordell, and asked if she'd be willing to look at the project. Shortly thereafter, Lisa had a script in her hand, and another person who loved the project as much as she did.

Not long afterwards, Lisa was on the set of a film that Hanelle M. Culpepper was directing. It was the third film the two women had worked on together.  During a dinner break, the two were sitting at a table on the empty set, when Hanelle asked Lisa what her dream projects were.  Lisa didn't have to think about it, The Miracles of Santo Fico. A few days later, Hanelle read the script and was equally enchanted.  There was just one small problem, the award winning book's author wasn't ready for it to be made into a film.

The three partners waited patiently, frequently reminding the author that they were still there and waiting for the option whenever he was ready.  Finally, the stars aligned and the option was granted.