God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday in the Piazza

Greve Piazza Matteoti

Saturday is market day in Greve—time to shop for life’s essentials, decide Saturday night’s dinner, check out the latest fashions and, mostly, time to socialize, to catch up with friends. We did these things yesterday.

Walking down Via Roma, where an old medieval lane of Greve leading to the piazza once was, gave us a chance to see what shops were still there and where empty windows stared out at us. The lady in the laundry ran out to say “ciao” and give Ken a hug—he made friends with her as he jogged past her shop every morning. Supposedly, he will be doing that again this year—time will tell.

Cinzia, whom I met when I was here in 2005 looking for a perfect home for the next year, works in Roberta’s, the leather store on the piazza. When I walked through the door, the exclamation of surprise and the big smile were all that were needed to lead to inquiries into each other’s life this past year. How was Tommy, her son doing in school? Had Casey grown? The hope that we were moving back here. The disappointment that we were not.

We discussed the slowness of business this year. Americans aren’t coming and the Europeans aren’t buying. It isn’t looking very good for small tourist oriented shops. Cinzia asked if I knew how she could sell her collection of Andrí carvings in the US. It is sad to know that times seem to be worse here than at home. The world economies are hurting. Alessandro’s bookings are coming mostly from Germanic countries not the US.

Next was Bruno’s gastronomia—our dear friend whose embraces are truly bear hugs. He talks at me a mile a minute in Italian, of course, and I just smile and say “si, si, si” as any good Italian does. His enthusiasm and vitality is contagious and I always feel the day is a little better after seeing him.

Then came Luca, my hairdresser in the piazza—Studio 20. When I first went to him, Judy of Divina Cucina fame, told me how to say that I didn’t want to look like a pumpkin (I easily turn orange.) A relationship that begins with a laugh is sure to be a good one and that is what Luca and I have. I poked my head in to say ciao, assuring him that I would let him work his magic before we go back home. Luca is also an accomplished photographer having published several “coffee table” books of Italy and presenting one-man shows in one of the comune buildings. Of course, we have one of his books and several photographs of lovely Chianti.

In Antica Macelleria Falorni (a famous butcher shop), we found Flutera. In Albania she had her degree in engineering but here in Italy, was our housekeeper as she wound her way through the labyrinth of achieving legal residency. She made it through and now is employable in higher paying jobs. Speaking Albanian, English, Italian and French makes her sought after in a tourist area such as this. Another face lit up when she turned around to see who was poking her shoulder and more hugs and kisses European style. It is sad that she will never be able to use the education she worked hard to obtain but life is better here than in Albania and so choices must be made.

A stop in Il Portico, our comfort restaurant in the piazza—another venture of Bruno’s family—brought more hugs and making a reservation for dinner at our favorite table.

And there were more—Casey’s teachers Maestre Agatha and Anna Maria and English teacher Susan (don’t ask about why that), stopping at the hardware stall at the market for wine stoppers, Roberta in her other shop… Then there were the ones we missed today but will most certainly see as the days pass.

We picked up our produce—tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, zucchini, carrots, garlic, melon and apples—at the same stall we always patronized; next checked out the fresh seafood but didn’t get any—now I wish for some of the large, fresh prawns for tonight but it’s too late so will settle for asparagus pasta; then to the little green grocers shop for fresh zucchini blossoms to fry up for a wonderful antipasto along with carrots and zucchini before dinner tonight.

Later in the day was a trip to the COOP for basics—olive oil, 00 flour, milk, eggs etc, etc, etc. Stopped in the beauty store (I needed some) for the gel I forgot.

And, of course, what’s a day without gelato? Not having to twist arms, Casey and Camilla joined me with yet another trip to town—well, sort of town. Casey was so happy that they had After Eight—his favorite. I settled for melon and coconut. For all who love Italy, you know that this is the final stop in coming home.

A Year? Really?

July 2007

June 2008

Well, this is long so I'll wait for dinner with friends Valentina and Riccardo and Casey's friend Tommaso till next time. Ciao, Ciao


Nancy said...

What a wonderful day!

Both of the kids look like they have grown. Camilla's legs look so LONG!


Anonymous said...

Dear Jane, How wonderful to read about your shopping in town, seeing old friends, experiencing life as you have grown to know and love in Greve. I do worry about the economic security for the small shop owners knowing how tourism is changing. Somehow we always want to be able to return to those places we love and feel that they will be the same. It is heart warming to know you are "home again". The children have grown so much in a year. Thanks for sharing. I'm hear reading your blog with much anticipation and joy! Barb Cabot PS Hot,hot, hot in SoCal!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you, Ken & Casey! Your posts show what a wonderful "homecoming" you are having in beautiful Italy.
We will visit and shop in Greve in the fall. Tell your friends there are some Canadians coming!
I can see the delight in the children being together again.

I am looking forward to your posts and can't wait until we return to Italy ourselves.


Anne said...

I love the two photos of Casey and Camilla. It's so amazing to watch the change in children from year to year. I also love your description of Bruno, how wonderful to have such a friend in your life! Your posts are so evocative, it almost feels like I'm right there in the market with you...

Anonymous said...

This was another wonderful day... As all of these days seem to be for you. We wish you all many more layers of good times, tastes and "ciao's".
Wendy and Rob

Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying reading about your trip "home" and I am thrilled that so far everything is going well.

Have a wonderful time in Croatia and enjoy every moment you are where you are.

I am thinking of you.

Oh, and one of my posts asked for video of Casey - man with new bicep/tricep muscles (saw them in the ice cream photo) and Camilla. Have you done much videoing?

Anyway, slow down and enjoy every single moment.

Yours truly,