Going around Italian villages is like a journey into the past. Another time, another way of life. Everything speaks of times gone by. From narrow cobblestoned streets, to ancient buildings. With the ever-present scent of wood smoke, transporting the mind to slower days. When entire families gathered round the fire, chestnuts roasting and wine glasses toasting. Secure and safe, like squirrels in their winter’s nest.
But springtime awakens from winter.
Sleepy towns begin to shake off their slumber. And the race is on to get homes, fields, and gardens in order before the long hot days of summer. When both farmers and their wives will drop exhausted side by side. Pleased over work well done, for the afternoon siesta. That ancient, enduring, and endearing custom of all Mediterranean lands.
Brooms in hand, every walk gets swept, every flower box filled. Windows opened wide for the Pulizie di Pasqua (spring or Easter cleaning). Women scrubbing and polishing, as their kerchieved mothers had before them.
Eager to finish before the tomato harvest. When with aching backs and sweaty brows, they’ll stoop over the outdoor fire, stirring next year’s salsa.
Time creeps 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 languid ways.
Yet summer, as everywhere, whizzes by.
Farmers trade hoes for harvest equipment. Shaking olives from trees and dropping grape clusters into baskets. As mothers ransake wardrobes for cozy sweaters. And children, donning traditional school smocks, traipse off to school with their pals. Their grandparents harking back in memory. Reminiscing of 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.
Abiding scenes that bring a certain reassurance. Modern day life — a picture in the making, woven together with the past, into one big tapestry.
Enduring family life
Our streets, all around town, present the unending scene of enduring family life. Life as it should be.
A reminder that although times change, much remains the same. Things like family and friends. Warmth and camaraderie. Neighbors lending a hand. 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 matter. To treasure them and hold them close. Sure, we must embrace the present while anticipating the future. But may we always remember to bring the good of the past along with us!
These are things I hope remain forever the same. Or for as long as the sun keeps rising and setting. Because it’s often these little things which take for granted that make the world a better place.
And how about you? What would you keep?
Images are my own.