If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

04 July 2005

Connections = Independence

Okay, that's a bit of a stretch for a holiday tie-in title, but it is really true - especially here. Fratello Guido explained to me a while back that the concept of 'mafia' actually originated from a very positive concept -- that you do business with people you like, and you take care of your friends.

So this afternoon, The Diplomat spent 4 hours squiring me around town giving me the next major step in my independence here... personal, face-to-face introductions to an assortment of people that I will need to know. Without boring you, I can try to give you a feeling of how amazingly lucky I am to have introductions like these, to not have to go out and find these people on my own, to start with basically a ready-made life: it's incredible. As Peter's reality check in his last comment reminded me: not only am I lucky to wake up in Tuscany tomorrow, but to wake up here with a whole community of people welcoming me kindly -- this is an amazing thing. For my own memory as much as anything... here was (in rough chronological order!) the afternoon:

Lino the cobbler
Lamberto the owner of the clothing store (which is candidly a little too shi-shi and overpriced for me...!)
Silvio the car insurance guy
The vice-corporal (or some similar ranking guy) at the Carabinieri, who I had already met once when he stopped by the house - but now I'm official!
Georgina & Aldo, the butchers. (There are 4 butcher shops in this tiny town!)
Federico, the one with the beautiful eyes who owns the new coffee bar next to the butcher shop.
Daniele, who owns the Tabacchi shop where they sell the 700 minute for 20 Euro phone cards (and lotto tickets and cigarettes and a bunch of other stuff I will never buy. But his mother said I could always just wave when I walked by to say hello.)
Marcello & Gigliola, who run the 'hang out' coffee bar in town, Caffe Luna.
Mauro - who runs the shop next to the bank that has the best cappucini
Franco the Farmacista, who is also an amazing musician and historian.
Gianna, who runs one of the three shops in town where they make handmade Gelato.
Katia, the woman at the fabric/bed linens store
Guido & Antonio at the machine shop, where my lawnmower will go when it's sick. I bought a mask for my 'weed eater' (decespugliatore) there, too.
The family - Claudio, Carla, Paolo, Giancarlo - who run the benzinaio (gas station) that we like. And their mechanic, Andrea. Good people to know!
Paola and Anna (mother and daughter) at the convenience store with deli counter - one of the few places open on Sundays!

Then, of course, I have already met Ricardo the blacksmith and locksmith, the carpenter Carlo, Leonardo at the computer shop, and Luca the son of the plumber. The three brothers Tigli who graze their sheep on the pasture and cut the wheat in the summer, do tree pruning and watering.

Still on the list to meet: Silvio the electrician, Biondo the firewood man, Rafaello who brings gravel for the driveway, and whoever fills the fuel tank in the winter... (THAT is an important one!)

Oh, it's so much to remember! But also, I am so aware that a reality of life here is needing people -- much more so than in an impersonal big city. I never in my life remember having to actually KNOW an electrician or a blacksmith - just opened the yellow pages when I needed one. I'm also confident that just in this afternoon, I received a warmer, more excited welcome than I ever would have in a similar situation in DC or Chicago, or most major suburbs even. Can you imagine walking into a gas station -- not to actually BUY anything, but just to introduce yourself to the people working there???!?!?! Without fail, every one of them greeted me more than warmly. I know in part this is because I'm a bit of an oddity -- (that crazy American woman), but I also think it is a culture that respects more that every person has a role to play. Plus the small town feel of it all.

We returned to the house around 7:45, took the first real 'orientation' hike around the 20+ acres (not all of it, certainly!), then had a delicious meal (courtesy of Renaissance Artist, who is also an exceptional chef, gardener and musician ....!) of fresh green beans and pork ribs that had been cooked in a chestnut honey sauce. We ate al fresco sitting out under the lunch tree, looking out at the lights of Siena.

It was a different Independence Day, to be sure, than any I've ever spent. But, oddly and perhaps appropriately, today I am more aware of both the spirit of independence and the value of connections than I have ever been on the 4th of July, and I am blessed today with both.

2 Comments:

Blogger Danza Sorellina said...

Happy 4th to my international sorella!

12:33 AM  
Blogger The Mom said...

Yes, we did the normal stuff for the fourth and the fireworks from the track were beautiful set to patriotic music (I did reflect on those who have their lives on the line at the moment who allow us to ohhh an ahhh, and said a silent prayer). Thought about the old days and then remembered that all I ever wanted for either of my daughters was their own independence--you go girl.

2:08 PM  

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