|And this shall be the main floor! (July 2007)|
corner view :: imagine
A couple of weeks ago one of my friends who is a life-long native to Vicenza came out to the paese with her boys and her husband for a gathering we hosted during the time of our village's annual festival or sagra. We brought a nice group of Italian and American friends together on our patio for bruschette and spritz and created, as one friend called it, "a tailgate atmosphere" in our little corner of the paese which was hopping with visitors in search of peas, cherries, hiking paths, and rock climbing adventures. The paese draws quite a crowd on a beautiful spring or fall day, but it's never as busy as when it's sagra time.
A neighbor stopped by with an offer to trade a bowl of freshly-picked cherries for a spritz. Some friends immediately headed out to explore with cameras. Others struggled with finding parking and we watched them go round and round and round in a rented van stuffed with Stateside visitors. Kids, both American and Italian, were able to don harnesses and experience a bit of rock climbing at the huge boulder at the end of the street. One neighbor brought his visiting parents from Milan to join us. An Italian friend and an American friend with boys about the same age learned that their kids play in the same soccer league. I brought a couple of friends to a neighbor farmer to purchase some of his famous bisi, or peas.
Eventually, our guests walked down to the church and soccer field for a "pea-centric" dinner under the characteristic white tents that accompany the festivals in this area. I walked along with my girlfriend and her boys at about the same time that mass ended, and as we did so, we were greeted with smiles by one local after another walking home after mass. Some wanted to chat, others just to greet us warmly. One after another the welcoming kindness continued until we reached the tent, where we found even more friendly faces from the paese. I think it took my friend from the city a bit by surprise. Honestly, it surprised me a bit, too. She increduously told me, "They like you. I mean, they really, really, really like you." I grinned, knowingly, finally.
When we first agreed to purchase our home in the paese nearly five years ago, I did imagine that this day would arrive. Believe me, there have been countless days since then that I thought myself a fool for ever even considering it. But. Here we are. We belong. We will always be outsiders. Always. Small towns are just like that, all over the world, but it seems to be especially difficult to be an outsider in this part of Italy. But now we are outsiders who belong to the paese. After five long years of minding our manners...five years of "Salve, Signora," with barely a response...five years of always, always, always being mindful of what the neighbors or locals are thinking...five years of trying to hold on to ourselves while attempting to belong to a foreign culture ... "they" (and I mean nearly all of "them") have decided that we are okay. I guess we'll stay for a while. I can't imagine doing this again in a new place.
|Young One checks out her tub! (April 2008)|
|Electricity and Water (January 2008)|
For more corner views from around the world of this week's theme, "imagine," visit Francesca.