Going around town in Italian villages is a journey into the past. Another time. Another way of life. Everything, from the narrow, cobblestone streets to ancient buildings, speaks of times gone by.
The ever-present waft of wood smoke, transports the mind to slower days. When entire families gathered round the fire, chestnuts roasting and wine glasses toasting. Safe and secure, like squirrels in their winter’s nest.
But springtime awakens from winter, and sleepy towns begin to shake off their slumber.
And the race is on to clean homes, fields, and gardens before the long hot days of summer. When farmers and their wives drop exhausted side by side, pleased over work well done, for the afternoon siesta. That ancient, enduring, and endearing custom of all Mediterranean lands.
Broom in hand, every walk gets swept. Every flower-filled window flung open, for the Pulizie di Pasqua (spring or Easter cleaning). The women scrubbing and polishing, as did their mothers and grandmothers before them, ever present head kerchiefs in place. Racing against the tomato harvest. When, with aching backs, they’ll stoop sweating over the outdoor cooking fire, stirring next year’s salsa (tomato sauce).
Time creeps slowly in the village, where life for the most part still holds to the rhythm and patterns of the seasons. Savored in minute bites, enjoyed in leisurely days.
Yet summer, as everywhere, whizzes by.
Farmers trade hoes for harvest equipment. Olives shake from trees and grapes fall into baskets, as mothers search wardrobes for sweaters. And children, donning the ever traditional school smocks, traipse off to school with their pals. Their grandparents, harking back in memory, to their own childhood days when they skipped along the same worn streets.
Never-changing scenes of antiquity. Like a long-running drama with new characters and props. Yet ever telling the same story. New faces and modern times, yet somehow unchanged.
Carts and buggies long since pushed into the past. Radios gather dust in attics. Jeans and Nikes® replace former garb. But the story, like a movie on constant replay, goes ever on.
Unchanging scenes that bring a certain reassurance. Modern day life — a picture in the making, woven together with the past, into one big tapestry.
Our streets, all around town, present the unending scene of enduring family life.
Life as we think it should be.
Reminding us that although times change, many things, and often the more important, remain ever the same! Like family and friends. Warmth and camaraderie. Neighbors helping one another. A glad handshake, a friendly smile. Old folk gathered around warming fires, and children skipping off to school, as will their children after them.
Our Italian towns remind us to hold on to the things that really count. To treasure them and hold them close. Sure, we embrace the present and look forward to the future. But let us always remember to bring along all the good of the past with us!
These are things I’d like to remain forever the same. Or for as long as the sun keeps rising and setting.
Which things would you Keep? Which would you let go by the wayside?
[Images our own.]