Monday, November 5, 2018

We will miss cousin Dante Seghieri, a colorful, memorable local character

We were heading out to pick up a friend at the Pescia train station when we drove past the Poggio restaurant and saw the usual posters announcing the death of a local resident. Only this time it wasn’t really usual, because one of the posters was for someone we knew, Dante Seghieri, age 91. We picked up our friend and went straight to the church in San Salvatore, because the funeral would start just a few minutes later.

Dante was one of the first Seghieris we had met on via Mattonaia, when he was 84. At our first encounter, he gave us a long dissertation on some of the misfortunes in his life. He had buried two daughters and his wife, and one of his daughter’s deaths had been particularly traumatic. She had been killed in an auto accident at around age 20 just before she was to be married.
We saw this announcement just in time to make it to the mass
for Dante on Sunday.

After that, every time we saw Dante, he began talking about the same things, with his younger daughter’s death always at the center of his grieving. It obviously had affected him severely, since it is unusual for someone to bring up the same sad topic with virtual strangers every time he sees them. As we got to know him a bit better over the years, we finally did have some conversations with him about other topics, but each encounter had its share of difficulties, because he didn’t speak clearly, and we didn’t understand Italian thoroughly. Still, it was always a comforting sight each year upon our return to San Salvatore to see Dante walking down the road.

He lived alone in his family home at Casone Marcucci, and we thought at first that he had no close family around him. But Ivo Seghieri told us that Dante had a son who lived nearby, and we gradually came to realize that some of the women who worked on the big meals at the Casolare dei Fiori were part of Dante’s family. Gisella, who had always impressed us with her cheerful personality, turned out to be his daughter-in-law, and two of her daughters—Dante’s grandchildren—also worked occasionally at the Casolare. They had been serving us meals for several years before I realized that they were my distant cousins.

In our five years of living part-time at the Casolare, I eventually put together a chart showing how all the Seghieri families in the Marcucci neighborhood are related to each other and me. Dante was my dad’s 7th cousin. I’m grateful that we returned to live in Italy for a few months a year and had the chance to meet Dante.  Attending his funeral also reminds me that we continue to advance, however slowly, in our involvement in the Montecarlo community.

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