Hi all you readers. I know you are few, but there will be more as I write more and launch this fascinating blog about my life as an American in Italy.
Question of the hour? Will I ever be integrated into Italian life, into Italian society? The answer is a resounding “NO!” Perhaps if I had started this adventure in my youth, the answer would be “yes,” but I must admit that I’ll always be the “American” around here. Exotic? Weird? Neighbors wonder why would we live here in this tiny hamlet??? What do we see in Mazzarelli? Good questions!
The answers lie in the fact that I love the Italian culture, the landscape, the language, the history, the art (birthplace of the Renaissance) and, oh, I almost forgot! The FOOD!
I’m OK with always being on the outside looking in. Every week we meet new locals here — I will know them enough to say “Buon giorno, salve” etc. and maybe even a little better than that, but I’ll not be invited to their homes. I’m not sure the local Umbrians (Pacianesi) here invite others into their homes. I believe they prefer to meet in public places, the bars and caffes being their living rooms. And I believe that in this tiny hamlet, where everyone is related, they pretty much stick to their own families. I found this to be true in France, where even tho I speak the language very well, I always felt like a tourist. In Germany, where I lived for 7 years until quite recently, I found the same. Things got better there and here in Italy when I began to learn the language. I’m still working on Italian, meeting for a private lesson twice a week and reading Inferno by Dante, father of Italian language.
Every Sunday morning, and most Tuesdays as well, Bob and I drive over to Lia and Fausto’s house in our village, Paciano. Lia, being German by origin, is a fantastic baker of breads, richer and more German in style than the white unsalted stuff loved by the locals here. On Sunday morning we meet up with friends, we drink coffee and we eat delicious pastries and rolls. And we “klatch” — that is, “chat.” The crowd is mostly “stranieri” (foreigners), mostly British. Lia is happy that some Italians have started to roll in. She too has always been an outsider, being German, and having raised 3 kids here in Paciano. I was happy to see some of our Italian neighbors there yesterday. Lia’s husband is Italian. They have installed a wood burning oven for baking. Sitting around the big table in the warm kitchen on a rainy day (yesterday) is a fine example of “gemütlichkeit.” That is a strictly German feeling, now found here in our Sunday kaffeeklatsch klatches! WWII has been over 70 years…..
Property line dispute
Paciano is our idyllic village, resting on a hill above our hamlet, Mazzarelli, which is a subset of Paciano and its 1,000 inhabitants. The state is Perugia, the province is Umbria, the country is Italy. Seems the federal Italian gov’t has decided to reconfigure all the irregular and incorrect property lines in Italy. It also seems they decided to give tons of expensive work to “notaios.” “Notaios” are sort of like lawyers, they draw up deeds and documents having to do with property.
The mayor of Paciano has come to us with a request for 1500. Euro, to be paid to a “notaio” to reconfigure our property line, which is off by about 18.” Our neighbors, who have lived in this building their whole lives, are also getting drawn into this dispute for more money than us, bless their hearts. We all met with the mayor last week and perhaps we’ve reached an accord. But since all 25 property holders in our tiny hamlet must also come to an agreement to pay for their reconfigurations, we think we are waiting for Godot. Our neighbors, Franco and Astelio (who grew up in this very apartment we live in) can be seen outside with a long measuring tape.