Life in Small Town Italy

Moving to or even visiting Italian villages is a unique and sometimes perplexing experience. Expect people to stare (and I mean really stare) as you walk down the street, without letting it give you a complex. No, you are not funny looking or strange. They just don’t see many outsiders, and curiosity is one thing Italians do not lack!

“But they’re whispering about me!” That’s normal. They want to know who you are. And actually, if they’re limiting it to polite whispers you’re probably in a medium-sized town. In smaller towns they loudly query, with a total disregard of discretion, “Who are they? What do they want here?”  Continue reading

Italian Worm Cheese [Video]

We have a saying in Italian. Non c’è niente di nuovo sotto il sole. (There is nothing new under the sun.) And yes, I know it’s from the Bible. But I also know that King Solomon, who wrote that, didn’t live in a foreign land. Otherwise, I wonder if he might not have changed it to: “There is something new under the sun. Every day, and in countless ways!”

We were in the deep south, at my father-in-law’s home. [Read: Italy’s Deep South →] A dear man, but eccentric, and prone to grumpiness. Having lived alone many years, he had the tendency to mutter under his breath a lot. Mario says he was mostly cursing. He didn’t like the priests or the saints, and seemed to blame them for most of his ills.  Continue reading

Their First Look at the Americans

One by one they filed in, sitting around the smoky fire in the dark, dingy room. The entire village, it seemed, wanted a look at the Americans. While I in turn, through teary, smoke-filled eyes, examined them. My husband’s paesani, for this was his birthplace, the very home he was born in!

Life in that isolated village seemed of another era. Shut in, not only by the surrounding mountains, but by time, which seemed to stand still. Everything, from the wrinkled grannies to the thick-walled ancient homes, spoke of the past.  Continue reading

The Old Aunty’s Kerchief {And the Power of Love}

I can picture her still so old and frail, hobbling up the steep hill leaning on her pair of homemade walking sticks. “What do you have there, Zia (Aunty)?” my husband asked, pointing to the open-mesh bag on her kerchief-covered head. I just gaped, wondering how many other nasty things she’d carried on that seldom-washed, dirty kerchief!

“Oh rabbit droppings for my plants,” she answered offhandedly. “Just let me set it inside the door here, and I’ll make some coffee!” she announced, clearly pleased at having visitors.  Continue reading