Bella Italia (continued)
My passion for Bella Italia (beautiful Italy) continued, living my dream in Luscignano, a tiny, remote village in the mountains in Northern Tuscany. Discovering the ‘real’ Italy with my trusty driver, Ricardo, was a daily adventure. Studying our enormous map of Italy on which we had highlighted the roads we had traversed each day, a mutual decision was made on which direction to be taken, avoiding the busy motor ways at all cost.
Naturally our first stop would be for a coffee and brioche and thankfully there were many small coffee bars beside the country roads. This was my chance to practice my fairly, limited Italian, but I was confident as one of the early phrases we had been taught was how to order a coffee, not a latte which would result in a cup of hot milk being delivered…yuk!
Lunch was always a relaxed and indulgent experience in the small family owned ‘ristorante’or ‘osteria’ that we discovered along the way. The food was delicious, creating my most vivid and happiest memories of Bella Italia, well some of them.
Rick was amazing, adapting to charades to replace his language inadequacy, but he left it to me to do my best with the communication. If he noticed someone approaching he would turn to me and say,
‘Conversation opportunity approaching!!!’
I enjoyed the challenge but by the end of the day my brain was frizzled from the effort of trying to recall the correct grammar and vocabulary.
After several weeks of exploring we declared a day off for me to clean our little home and catch up with washing. Rick had taken a folding chair into the sunshine near the wall of the village to relax and read his book. (a man’s life!) After some time, he appeared looking very excited.
‘Jen…. Jen….there is someone down there speaking English! In fac,t I think he sounds Australian,’ he exclaimed.
‘Well, go and speak to him.’ I responded wisely.
‘OK, I will.’
Up until this time we had lead a very quiet life, driving all day, returning home in the evening, then having a long walk, early drinks on our tiny balcony, a light meal and to bed with a book. There was no TV in Luscignano.
Now that was about to change. We met a wonderful couple from Perth who had rented a very interesting and comfortable villa below our wall. They invited us for drinks and dinner. Jenny had been learning Italian at the Dante Alighieri School in Perth, I was learning at the same school on the Gold Coast. Both husbands did not attempt to speak the language, but agreed they could get by without having to use their trusty phrase book, and after all, they had their wives. Wonderfully animated discussion followed and a great night turned into an early morning as we staggered back, giggling, through the cobbled laneway and steps to negotiate our spiral staircase and fall into bed. Goodness knows what our elderly neighbours thought. We reciprocated with an invitation for drinks on our balcony with four plastic chairs side by side. It was quickly decided that their villa was more accommodating for socialising. We had a wonderful few days with dinners and stimulating company until they departed, leaving us to resume our more subdued programme, much to the relief of our neighbours.
Part of the charm of beautiful Italy (Bella Italia) are the markets. I procured all our food from a choice of many local markets. Purchasing from the abundance of fresh produce and variety of cheeses, breads, pastries and meats improved my vocabulary immensely. The enormous pig on the spit was mouth-watering and I always bought some of the ‘porchetta.’ The vendors were delightful, the men always flirtatious and cheeky.
‘They even flirt with me,’ Rick declared! (they did!)
As I glance through my photos of this amazing two months in Bella Italia, I wonder if I will ever re-visit. I have such an affinity with the country, the culture, and the people. I long to return. In this world of Covid, one would never know, but I have many wonderful memories of my time living in two authentic villages for a period of two months.
Until next time when I will share more memories of living in Bella Italia.
Jenny Old AUTHOR
‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’
‘Back of Beyond’ Facebook