The Characters of my "Hood" in Italy ~ Romancing Italy

Sep 25, 2009

The Characters of my "Hood" in Italy

In a couple of weeks, I will mark two years in Italy. I've spent most of my time in the north, with easter, summer, olive picking season and other odd weekends in the south. Today, as the sky thickens into a gray stew and the leaves remain ominously still, I found myself mulling over the acquaintances I've made, or not, on this little stretch of road.

The house directly across from ours in the north stands tall and mute, it's windows open but no life ever shows through. It's as unfriendly as it's owners who never greet us unless they are unfortunate enough to have eye contact. Their dog once came sniffing around our courtyard and as A chased it away, it stopped on it's exit run to look at him, I swear in defiance, while it raised a leg to leave its parting shot. The nerve!

Thank goodness for Gianni and his pet who take their daily walk past our house. Without fail there will be a wave or small conversation as he passes by our gate. I will again be reminded of his age and how fine his 10 year old dog is doing, all due to being on meds.

And Bruna, a short distance down the road, is the life force behind her strange family. She is as robust and friendly as her husband is thin and timid. I once told her I liked one of her plants in her yard and that afternoon, I was presented with a potted version of the same plant.

Her husband tends to his goats in the surrounding hills and often walks past our house, large wooden basket strapped to his back and pint sized Bessie barking at his feet, to their forest plot to gather food. Even with Bessie announcing my presence, he managed to ignore me for months. Now, I get a nod in response to my enthusiastic wave and ONCE, he even spoke to me. I'm making progress.

Their son Sandro is a kick. He rarely leaves home for any reason but for work, and never takes vacation. That works for us as we rely on him to take care of our Macchia and Argo when we go south. He bought a fine looking motorbike and all the protective armor that a responsible rider would have, but hesitates at taking any ride longer than 15 minutes. He too is spare with words so it is no wonder I caught a moment where he and A sat on the ledge outside our house and shared a beer in silence.... comfortable communion.

I've not yet met Damiana who is the artist with a reputation for collecting morbid artwork. A skeleton hanging on the wall near the entrance is her form of welcome. She lives adjacent to Bruna but goes inside when I pass by.

Two years and so little connection with the people who live right around me. Part is my fault for not being more outgoing, but the north is known for being cold and aloof. When a rafting guide heard that I'd stayed in nearby Alagna for some time, he didn't wait for my story, he just immediately apologized.

By contrast, in the south I've stopped to ask for directions and walked away with the info I needed, their life story and a sense of connection. And for a stranger, because two years still makes me a stranger, that behavior is very welcome.


  1. A fascinating glimpse of the characters that populate your hood. I read it with immense interest.

    Recent blog:=- Well Hung

  2. What a lovely blog you have. You describe the characters so well that I feel I can see them. Here in Sicily one neighbour took a year to speak to me, so I know how you feel. Pazienza! Congratulations on your two years in wonderful Italy!

  3. PS: That was me, Welshcakes from "Sicily Scene"!

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed it louciao and happier that you took the time to say so. I see you have a wicked sense of humor too. I had to go instantly to see just what was well hung. I was not disappointed. :)

  5. Hello Welshcakes, I'm pleased to see you on this side of Italy. Is it still raining down there? If it makes you feel better, today our weather changed to the normal showers that we are so used to having. I am so glad I found your blog, I love your "voice" and I would like others to also find you if they happen upon this thread so I am adding your site here:

  6. Em from Ribollita ReboiledSat Sep 26, 04:16:00 AM GMT+2

    Thanks so much for sharing the warmth you've found in Italy. Someone once told me to be wary of a person who opens up so quickly, but to cherish the hard nuts! It looks like you have some lovely hard nuts :-P :-D (that sounds kind of funny :-[)

  7. Hi Em, it must be 'double entendre' day! That's funny!! I must tell A.
    I think that saying is right on. I feel that people who take their time to make friends, finally do so out of choice and it tends to last longer.

  8. to bad... :'( :'(
    i had always quick and good connections...maybe because I'm blonde..)))

  9. Greta blog, and I thought my neighbours here in Catania where strange !

  10. Yeah Hans, that's probably it.....but wait, does that apply to men too?

  11. Hi Sandra, thanks for stopping by. If we think they are strange, I am sure we would be entertained by what THEY think of us!


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