The talk of the town

By Carol / May 11, 2011 /
Massa Macinaia, Italy, is no different than Preston, Iowa – at least in one respect. People notice newcomers. Who are they? What are they doing here? How long will they stay?

Mary and I stick out, for sure. We carry our cameras and stop anywhere and everywhere to take photos – street signs, flowers growing out stones, church towers, cemeteries.

Like most of us, these folks may not realize how beautiful their hometown is, especially to new eyes. Of course our limited grasp of Italian is immediately obvious. We use every word we know and many that we don’t, but we’re trying. We pick up new vocabulary daily, by reading signs and figuring out meaning from context. We also have Mary’s handy iPhone with Google Translate.

But most of all, we stick out as the two women who came to write. We hauled a table out under a tree in the garden and sit for hours each day staring at the screens, typing away. We see our neighbors watching us from their upstairs windows.  They look at us as though we’re exotic animals – you came all the way to Italy … to write?

I hope they also notice I stare just as often at the Tuscan hills terraced with olive trees and vineyards and that either one of us may look up at any moment and exclaim, “Is the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?” They can’t see it, but I wish they also knew I relax, rejuvenate and am inspired by sitting under the Tuscan sun, breathing in country air, absorbing this beauty.

I am beginning to recognize our neighbors. This morning a woman we saw at the deli the first day we were here called out ‘Buon giorno!’ as we passed her home.

Our neighbor across the street knows we are studying Italian and he is helping by cheerfully and enthusiastically refusing to speak a word of English to us. He also shared his newspaper.

Our landlord seems a little anxious we won’t really see Italy. When he came to adjust the seats on our bicycles, he said we should go to Pisa and Florence. Having heard that we write, write, write, he may have thought we intended never to leave our yard. We will put him at ease.

Tomorrow morning: Lucca. There we will check out the trains. This week, we’re giving locals something to talk about.

Next week? Maybe we’ll be natives.


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