From My Tuscan Window

Chapter 56
School’s Out:
Gioviano is Alive and Well!

When we first arrived in Gioviano this year, one would have thought that the town was either on its way to becoming a ghost town or a retirement center. The sounds of children laughing, shouting, singing, and playing were not to be heard as in years past. The primary sounds were the constant barking of the dogs in the valley, Daria’s rooster crowing, the distant sound of the little train going up and down the valley, the song of the rondini and the cry of their baby birds begging for food. Even the profane rage of Dino, the restorer of houses, who curses stones that don’t cooperate was missing.

I was struggling with how to deal with the sections on “Where to Stay” and “Where to Eat”. So, I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. with writer’s block waiting to watch the full moon rise over the mountains, where it would hang like a lantern over the bell tower and shed rays of moonlight down on the rooftops. The wait was worthwhile because the moon was accompanied by wispy white clouds that passed across the sky sometimes draping the moon in a gauzelike ephemeral substance and then releasing the full intensity of the moonlight. Watching the full moon rise over Gioviano is something I look forward to each June.

This morning, I sipped my coffee while sitting on the comfy leather couch along side two stuffed toys known as Crocky and Blue Bunny. Both of them were acting silly with Blue Bunny riding on Crocky’s back. I stared at the mountains that embrace Montefegatesi and tried to remember which battles had been won by whom at the Gola di Calavorno below Terzone. Then, I came over here to my office in the Palazzo to attempt to write about places to stay in and about Gioviano.

Much to my great pleasure and surprise, the streets were filled with chattering children. A troop of five little girls streamed into the bottega, and a couple of little boys came running toward my window and then went down the stairs that form a passageway under my mother’s office.

School’s out! Gioviano is alive and well!

It appears that no matter how hard I try to bring some kind of order to the writing of this book it has an organic life of its own, and thus when I find myself sitting down to write a chapter about one thing, I end up on a totally different subject that usually reflects what is taking place outside my window.

For example, just now, Roberto walked past and said, “Buon giorno, Giorgio. Ho presso un raffreddore. Era troppo freddo questa ultima settimana.” (“Good day, George. I have taken a cold. It was too cold this last week.”)

I replied, “Vai a sederti al sole sulla terrazza.” (“Go sit in the sun on your terrace.”)

“Buona idea.” (“Good idea.”)

“Ciao.” (“Goodbye.”)

“Ciao.” (“Goodbye.”)

I hear a group of children arguing just around the corner near the Barsanti monument. It is music to my ears. Thank goodness school’s out for the summer. The sounds of happy and unhappy children will invigorate even the old and infirm whose steps will be lighter, and smiles will return to their faces as they greet the children runnning past them in the streets.

A little white dog just walked past. Seeing the door of the Palazzo open, he ran up the three steps, came inside, and then ran out again. I am laughing so hard I can hardly type. The clock in the tower is striking 11:15 a.m. A mother with a complaining baby just walked toward the bottega.

An elderly couple just struggled past. The man used two canes, which reminded me of my 95 year-old father who also now walks with a cane in each hand. I called out to the old man and asked if he was the same age as my father, and he said, “No il tuo babbo è nato nell’ undici (1911) – io nel diciassette (1917).” (“No, your father was born in 1911, I in 1917.”) What a memory!

Maybe I should close the window and shutters in front my computer. So many people are passing by on their way to and from the bottega that I can’t get any serious writing done.

Revised March 3, 2008
Copyright 2005-2006 George H. Russell
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