Thursday, March 2, 2017

We're thankful for quiet, uneventful, always enjoyable days in Montecarlo

Playing tombola with a cup of beans
Sometimes it seems a little strange that we come all the way to Italy just to sit in our house and read, write, sew and study Italian. It’s been a pretty uneventful three weeks here, and all of our actual cultural experiences probably could have been accomplished in a couple of days.

Tombola players (Lucy's back, far left)
The Misericordia of Montecarlo—a group of volunteers that help with medical emergencies and provide a broad range of other social services—held a tombola night at the old church. Tombola is a lot like bingo, but the rules are slightly different. Lucy and I each paid 10 euro for six tombola cards and played for about an hour. That’s about all our heads could take of trying to distinguish between numbers like quarantacinque, cinquantaquattro, cinquantacinque and quarantaquattro—or sessantasette, sessantasei, settantasei and settantasette. While our ancient
Our neighbors win a prize.
brains were converting the words into numerals and trying to scan all six of our game cards, the tomboliere (or whatever one calls the volunteer who pulls the numbers from the bin and reads them out) just kept on going.

After a few games and with the kindness of some players close by, we got the hang of the rules and were able to keep up. But just barely, and only with maximum mental focus. Shortly after we started the game, our neighbors Juri and Silvia, along with two of their daughters, joined in. They won a prize basket in a short time. When we left, we donated our cards to them, and I think they won another prize, but we had already walked the two blocks home and gone to bed.

Probably the most enjoyable encounter in our three weeks here was with friends from church, Silvio and Anna. Silvio speaks about as much English as we do Italian, so we mixed our languages together and had a long lunchtime conversation in their home. Anna grew up mostly in America but moved to Italy years ago after she married Silvio—thus anything that we weren’t able to easily communicate, we could say with Anna’s help.

I’ve also been going to the parish archives a few hours each week. Just when I think I’m fed up with this genealogy hobby, some new challenge will present itself, and I get obsessed with solving it. I’ve discovered many more relatives through my DNA test, and once I know someone is related and that their ancestors came from the Valdinievole region, I want to hunt down the paper connection.

In the past few months, I’ve connected online with Judi, a fifth cousin who lives in California (common ancestor Petrocchi); Eileen, Robert and Alfred, third cousins from Illinois (Spadoni); Gregg, a 15th cousin from Oregon (Spadoni); Karen, a 5th cousin from Puyallup (Montanelli); and John Steven, a third cousin from Illinois (Capocchi/Montanelli). I also met in person a couple of weeks ago Sauro Spadoni, a third cousin who is a hair stylist in Chiesina Uzzanese.

It may be strange, but somehow making connections with people from both past and present lives who share a bit of history and DNA is moving. When I gave Gregg information about his ancestors, he wrote back: "I just cannot express enough my gratitude for this. How incredible! My mother was in tears when I shared this information. Thank you so very much, truly."

We know the pace of our lives will pick up drastically when we start receiving visits from friends and relatives in a few weeks, so right now we feel quite comfortable just living our lives as normal Italians. A few days ago, a funeral procession, complete with a band playing a lugubrious melody, walked down the main street and passed below our windows. Lucy and I walk to the library regularly to use their free wifi to do our online Italian lessons. We watched Hacksaw Ridge at the cinema in Pescia.
One big difference between our two homes is the view out of my office windows, this being the one in Italy. Lucy has a view on the opposite side, which looks out over the city wall toward Lucca. Her view is the one we usually show, with the trees and sunsets, but this side has its appeal as well.

So for now, life in Italy is not much different from life in America—until we look out the windows, walk down the street or drive to the market. We’ve grown comfortable, but I don’t think we’ll ever grow so accustomed to this place that we’ll forget what a blessing it is. It’s a great feeling to be so at home in both Montecarlo and Gig Harbor.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome.